New Wrightsville Beach cafe Zeke’s brings Hawaiian tastes to WB

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As the menu states, it’s pronounced “Poh-KAY” and the traditional Hawaiian dish of Poke, made of raw tuna, is one off the staples of the newly-opened Zeke’s Beans & Bowl in Wrightsville Beach.
Opened since late October, the new café is stepping into the former location of Annex Surf Supply on 534 Causeway Drive. It’s bringing a proven formula, established in locations in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Va., that features not only the popular Hawaiian meal, but also pitas, breakfast bowls, acai bowls, and other breakfast and lunch fare. Its owner, Nick Cole, is fulfilling a lifelong dream of opening his own restaurant. But it took overcoming a hurricane to get there.
Hurricane Florence struck Wrightsville Beach the day before what was to be a couple of days of plumbing work. It turned into a five-week job. It was just one of several factors that pushed back the planned August opening back to October. To catch up, crews scrambled to complete construction of the interior and training of staff.
“For three weeks, we were here to the early hours of the morning, just trying to get open,” Cole said.
Coming into a post-Florence economy on Wrightsville Beach, with some businesses closed or struggling to make up for lost revenue from the storm in the offseason, Zeke’s Bean & Bowl has seen early success, Cole said. The late hours of work were paying off, with steady sales and a growing clientele in the local college student.
“We’ve had good crowds, sales have been steady,” Cole said. “We’re trying to corner that college crowd. They’re here all the time.”
Though he just moved here a year ago, Cole has become acquainted with the Wilmington area for more than a decade, with frequent visits to Wrightsville Beach and the Port City.
In opening the Wrightsville Beach location of Zeke’s, Cole is fulfilling a dream he’s had since he was 12 years old and bolstered after his first restaurant job at age 16. His opportunity presented itself when his wife was offered a job in Wilmington. Friends with the owners of the Zeke’s locations in Virginia Beach and Norfolk, Cole offered to bring a location to Wrightsville Beach, leaving behind his job at a mortgage company.
“They’ve wanted to open one here for a while,” Cole said of the owners. “We never considered another location. We think it’s a great fit.”
Zeke’s Beans & Bowl is open from 8 a.m – 8 p.m.

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