Fine dining is just steps from the beach at Johnnie Mercer’s Pier after restaurateurs converted what was once a dive bar into what they plan to be a diverse eatery that’s ready to satisfy the needs of a wide range of diners.
But just because owners Alan and Jennifer Giaquinto are looking to advance the Shark Bar and Kitchen past the “dive bar” history of the location, they said it’s still the kind of place you could come into after a day at the beach.
“We wanted to create a place that’s not a dive, but not fancy either,” Jennifer Giaquinto said. “It’s not cheap, but it’s not expensive. It’s a place where you can go in your swimsuit or go for date night.”
Shark Bar and Kitchen, located at 13 East Salisbury St. in the location that was once Buddy’s Crab House & Oyster Bar, opened in September and is the product of residents of Wrightsville Beach’s south end. Alan Giaquinto brings restaurant experience from his business supplying food and concession to more than a dozen airports around the country, while Jennifer adds retail and restaurant experience of her own. Alan Giaquinto is the owner of Tailwind Concessions, which provides food services for Wilmington International Airport and 15 other airports across the country.
Jennifer Giaquinto said the restaurant would focus on bringing in locally sourced food as often as possible, with an emphasis on local seafood. Scott Surratt, a former chef from nearby Ceviche’s, is heading up the restaurant’s menu, which includes items ranging from market fish of the day and pan roasted duck breast to “locals specials” featuring $8 burger and fries.
“When we can, we’re trying to do everything from scratch,” Jennifer Giaquinto said.
While primarily a restaurant, the establishment will also feature unique specialty drinks, Giaquinto said, like the frozen “orca.”
“We’ll also feature a good selection of wines,” Jennifer Giaquinto said.
Other changes may be on the way, she said, including adding more breakfast options next summer.
For Alan Giaquinto, the restaurant offers a “passion project” apart from the hectic nature of airport dining.
“We wanted to provide a good restaurant this side of the bridge that everyone can embrace and enjoy,” Alan Giaquinto said. “We wanted to make it someplace we would be proud to go.”