SURF CITY — The town’s newest restaurant started over a handshake and a beer between new neighbors.
“We had moved down after the kids graduated high school,” North Topsail Beach resident Jim Dobrowski said. “One day a neighbor two doors down is cutting his lawn. My wife and I go over to introduce ourselves, handed the guy a beer, and we meet Travis Stafford.”
The ensuing friendship led to a business partnership, and the two opened one of Surf City’s first craft beer bottle shops, Hopsail Island, in the summer of 2016.
“That’s been successful, so we decided to expand into the restaurant business,” Dobrowski said.
After noticing certain places in the area offered beer, others offered liquor and cocktails, while others offered food, they saw that few offered all three under one roof.
“There the idea came of starting Coastal Wing and Spirits,” Dobrowski said.
Smoked jumbo wings
One thing that stuck out to Dobrowski while touring the region, testing various wings establishments, was that many of the wings he ate were too small and didn’t have enough meat.
“Ours will be thick, meaty, smoked wings,” Dobrowski said. “I’m starting to get hungry thinking about them.”
While traditional wings are deep-fried — which they will offer as well — he said their specialty plate will be dry rub chicken and pork wings with sauces to go with them, similar to Memphis style dry rub ribs.
Some of their sauces will include the Alabama White Sauce Sweet Chili, Thai, Garlic Parmesan, Ten-Fidy BBQ, Spicy Buffalo, Nashville Hot, and Carolina Reaper.
They’ll also serve pulled pork, burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads, and fish and pork tacos.
TVs, “duty beers,” and a full liquor bar
Nine 65-inch TVs will be dedicated to sports — Dobrowski said they will feature MLB and NFL packages, as well as go-to channels like ESPN — while two screens will show menus of hand-crafted cocktails with a list of the ingredients found in each drink.
“When we were talking to people about the restaurant, it was the full liquor bar that seemed to be what people were really excited about,” Dobrowski said, adding that the promise of a Sunday mimosas special is a particular source of excitement around town.
The bar will also feature 12 taps with both craft and domestic beers.
“We’re going to have both craft beers and what I call your “duty beers” — your Bud Lights and so on,” Dobrowski said. “We didn’t want to just re-create Hopsail.”
This was important, he said, for those who want to wash their wings with a “cold one.”
When asked if obtaining a liquor license was difficult, Dobrowski said that it was an easy process compared to that of his hometown in New Jersey, where with a population of 30,000 people there are only eight liquor licenses.
“They go for like $800,00 to $1.2 million up there. So you have a little, dumpy place that’s worth a ton of money because they have a liquor license. They charge 12 bucks for a drink,” Dobrowski said with a laugh.
Set to open by the end of January
Compared to Hopsail Island, which doesn’t have a kitchen, Dobrowski said it has taken longer than expected to line up all the necessary inspections.
“We were delayed a month or two just getting together the inspector, the plumber, and the guy with the grease pit,” Dobrowski said. “Hopsail was much quicker because we didn’t have a kitchen.”
He also said a county official told him that, at 19 feet long, their kitchen exhaust system may be the largest in Pender County.
Dobrowski and Stafford are aiming to open their doors by the end of January. The restaurant is located next to Salty Turtle Beer Company on the mainland side of town, at 108 Triton Lane.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com