Sunday, October 2, 2022

Former Waterman’s brewer Zac Brown to open Stalk & Vine on the Riverwalk

Zac Brown, left, and his mom brainstorm on the riverfront patio of his future restaurant and bar, Stalk & Vine. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Zac Brown, left, and his mother brainstorm on the riverfront patio of his future restaurant and bar, Stalk & Vine. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

Stalk & Vine, a new restaurant planned for downtown Wilmington’s Riverwalk, is the culmination of a journey around the country — and around the world.

WILMINGTON — After nearly two decades on the south end of the Riverwalk, the former Le Catalan is making room for local brewer Zac Brown’s first restaurant and bar.

Stalk & Vine is a culmination of Brown’s career to this point, an “elevated full spectrum beverage and culinary” concept inspired by a commitment to multiculturalism born from growing up near New York City, playing trumpet in New Orleans, brewing beer in San Francisco, and working in places like Philadelphia and Denver.

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If it weren’t for a famous country singer with the same name, he may have called it Zac Brown’s Joint — after years of taking it all in, he now has a place where the cocktail, beer, wine, and food lineup will be his own creation — but he’s good with Stalk & Vine too.

“Stalks and vines start with seeds and roots and then their respective bodies grow towards the sun that feeds them,” Brown said. “I have grown through many great cities via the passions that feed my soul: beverage, food, music.”

Brown is only a week into taking over the lease from the former owners of Le Catalan, who are packing up for retirement in Antigua, and for now he’s holding his cards close to his chest. He said he is currently in talks with a chef, “whose name I will not disclose at this point of time,” to provide input on the menu design and help streamline the kitchen processes.

The cuisine will be centered around small plates but with the “ability for someone to hang out and have a full meal without a huge commitment” to one dish; think olive snacks and charcuterie boards paired with a glass of beer or wine while taking in the sun on the Cape Fear River. Meanwhile, the cocktails will be simple, quality, and designed by Brown. Although he was unwilling to describe any specifics, he did provide a bird’s eye view.

Put it this way, the cocktail program that I have is heavily influenced by my journey around the world,” Brown said. 

Former Waterman's head brewer Zac Brown mulls over renovation work behind the bar of the future Stalk & Vine in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Former Waterman’s head brewer Zac Brown mulls over renovation work behind the bar of the future Stalk & Vine in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

He expects to include eight taps of craft beer with a focus on Wilmington’s own rising beer industry. His focus, like everything with the menu, will be curating a straightforward selection that covers the full spectrum — from cream ales and Pilsners in warm months to Porters and stouts in the winter — drawn from his experience as head brewer at Magnolia Brewing Company in San Francisco and Waterman’s Brewing Company in Wilmington.

“I won’t put on five IPAs, you know. We’re trying to go for a range here,” Brown said.

He also sees Stalk & Vine as a future collaboration space for local chefs to showcase their own dishes and as a platform for local farmers and beverage professionals.

“I have developed experience and skills and things that I’m excited to share with the world. But I love to collaborate,” Brown said. “Once it’s established, and the kinks are worked out and I can get a night’s worth of sleep, I definitely want to do events with other local, awesome people.”

Brown said he has not yet set an opening date for Stalk & Vine, located at 224 S. Water Street.


Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com

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