Coffee shop restaurant applies to open at south end

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A new coffee shop and restaurant might soon be opening its doors at the south end of Wrightsville Beach.

South End Surf Shop owner Jeffrey DeGroote is seeking a conditional-use permit (CUP) to open Post Coffee Shop/Restaurant at 708 S. Lumina Ave. in the currently vacant second floor of his surf shop.

DeGroote brought his proposal before the Wrightsville Beach Planning Board during the board’s Jan. 6 meeting. Board members voted unanimously to forward a favorable recommendation to the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen to grant the CUP with the condition that DeGroote addresses the issue of handicap accessibility.

That issue was the only one raised by the board members during their brief discussion prior to voting. A diagram of the proposed shop showed an outdoor staircase leading to a second floor access.

DeGroote said he expected he might run into hurdles such as handicap accessibility at some point during the permitting process. He said he planned to address those issues with his architect, John Sawyer, whom he said has completed multiple projects at Wrightsville Beach.

Sue Bullock, representing the Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce, said because the building is historic, the standards it must meet for handicap accessibility are different.

Ester Naomi Yopp originally purchased the property in 1941 to open the Glenn Restaurant adjacent to her summer guesthouse, Hotel Glenn. The restaurant was a cinderblock building with a brick façade. The first floor was a dining room and kitchen and the second floor consisted of bedrooms and bathrooms.

The name was changed in 1948 to the Sea Cove Restaurant, but the dining room closed in 1954 after Hurricane Hazel and the second floor closed in 1969. In 2010, DeGroote opened South End Surf Shop on the first floor but the second floor remained in the same condition as when it was closed.

“I do love this building,” DeGroote said. “It’s part of Wrightsville Beach history and I’m glad I could come in and save the property.”

The proposed coffee shop would also need a parking exception for eight spaces. However, the application states the shop would attract mainly walk-up traffic from residents and tourists visiting the beach. The business is described as a gourmet coffee shop selling organic bottled juices, smoothies, baked goods, pre-made wraps and pizza, ice cream and drinks.

“For those who walk in the morning, the other restaurants and facilities aren’t open,” Bullock pointed out.

DeGroote said the coffee shop project was a result of feedback he had received from local residents of the south end.

“I’m just taking the information I’ve gathered and trying to provide something to the residents,” he said, “and I’m basically repurposing what’s already there.”

Chairman Ace Cofer voiced his support, saying the business was consistent with the 2005 CAMA Land Use Plan encouraging commercial establishments providing basic goods and services to year-round residents and visitors.

“I’m a former coffee shop owner at Wrightsville Beach,” Cofer added. “I think it brings a great sense of community.”

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