Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Wilmington’s cart-turned-cafe Social Coffee & Supply Company set for Saturday grand opening

The new cafe will serve an area heavily trafficked by students and hospital staff – a role once filled by Grinders Cafe until it closed shop because of Florence damages.

WILMINGTON — After a summer of selling coffee from a cart, husband and wife Giovanni and Rachel Ellzey are set to officially launch Wilmington’s newest coffee shop.

Social Coffee and Supply Company, located on 5317 Wrightsville Avenue just east of the NHRMC Orthopedic Hospital, will host a grand opening this Saturday with raffle giveaways and discounts for those who show up on bicycles or with their own mugs.

The new cafe comes months after Grinder’s Caffe’ had to close shop because of damages sustained during Hurricane Florence.

A home from 1969 to 1997, the building served as a cafe then a print shop before the Ellzeys returned it to a cafe. Rachel Ellzey said that Wilmington residents may remember an iconic oak tree painted with polka dots on its massive trunk in the front lawn – and the battle between the print shop owner and the city that ultimately ended with the tree’s removal.

RELATED: Grinder’s Cafe reopens in new Kerr Avenue location

But Ellzey is not worried about the former controversy associated with the property. When people ask for directions to the cafe, she said she may reply, “Do you remember the polka dot tree? That’s where we are.”

The cafe is filled with natural light from a large bay window the original homeowner had installed, giving the space a light, airy atmosphere reminiscent of it’s newest specialty drink: the Sunshine latte, made with milk steamed with an orange peel then sweetened with real maple syrup.

Annalee Heneghan was sitting in an enclave-style room in the corner of the cafe working on her laptop. Although based in Wilmington she said she works in coffee shops up and down the east coast for her job. When asked what she liked about the city’s newest cafe, the answer came easy.

“The comfy chairs,” Heneghan said. “That’s what I look for in coffee shops — comfy chairs. Wilmington doesn’t have a lot, so it’s nice.”

Customer Annalee Heneghan is drawn to the cafe because of its comfortable chairs and quiet rooms. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Customer Annalee Heneghan is drawn to the cafe because of its comfortable chairs and quiet rooms. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

On the opposite side of the building is a long, private conference room with a TV monitor that groups and businesses can reserve. Inside Ellzey talked about the couple’s reason to start the coffee shop.

“I loved the coffee, he loved the vibe and feeling of community,” Ellzey said. “Our vision for the future is to provide as many opportunities as we can for people to gather and come together and enjoy each other.”

Such opportunities in the future will include open mic nights, nonprofit events, and trivia and game nights, Ellzey said.

Behind the counter Giovanni Ellzey was brewing up a Sunshine latte wearing one of the cafe’s newest hats, made by a company called Tinlid Hat Company that plants a tree for every hat purchased.

Rachel Ellzey said this was in line with the cafe’s charity agenda — more specifically its partnership with Global Education Ministries, where she is still employed part-time and once taught for one of its schools in the port town of Puerto Escondido on the southern coast of Mexico.

She said that 10 cents from every cup of drip-coffee sold will go to the school.

Other specialty drinks include the Thunderbolt, made with a mix of lemonade and cold brew coffee, and Black Magic, made with a mix of cold brew and “Mexican Coca-Cola” with a dash of vanilla.

“But we also have the good ole basics, the sweet stuff,” Rachel Ellzey said, referring to staple coffee shop drinks like caramel lattes and mocha cappuccinos that they serve. “Those are always going to be good no matter what.”

Starting Saturday, the cafe’s business hours will be Monday through Friday from 7 to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 to 5 p.m. It will be closed Sundays. You can find more information on Social Coffee & Supply Co.’s Facebook page.

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