The owners of a Wrightsville Beach restaurant will be opening a second eatery at 13 E. Salisbury St. in the building previously occupied by Buddy’s Crab House and Oyster Bar, near Johnnie Mercer’s Pier.
Tom Kievit, manager of Coastal N.C. Real Estate LLC, recently bought the building and in February, Buddy’s moved out. The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen voted unanimously May 12 to grant Kievit a conditional use permit to open a new restaurant there. His tenants will be Danny and Earl McPherson, owners of nearby King Neptune Restaurant.
In addition to a dozen conditions the aldermen set on the permit, they took an additional step to alleviate fears that the restaurant would turn into a private club, as several other establishments around town have. They required that Kievit and his tenants sign an affidavit stating they would never apply for a private club permit from the ABC commission, meaning a certain percentage of their profits must always come from food sales.
The applicants agreed, and Danny McPherson said he expected to do such good business from morning until 10 p.m. he wouldn’t need to stay open for the late-night crowds.
The restaurant, which McPherson called the Shore Shack, will have a family atmosphere, he said. For breakfast he plans to serve items like crème brulee French toast and German chocolate pancakes and, for dinner, fresh seafood from Motts Channel Seafood.
The 75-year-old building needs work, the project’s architect said, but since town rules limit the amount of renovations he can make each year, the restaurant will initially operate at about a 45-person occupancy on the first floor until the second floor can be repaired.
Three residents spoke in favor of the project during a public hearing, and one was opposed. Residents in favor thought a family restaurant would bring a much-needed upgrade to the Johnnie Mercer’s Pier area.
Hayes Perry, a longtime resident of Seagull Street, which runs parallel to E. Salisbury Street, said he has lived there since there was “a trampoline park on one end, an open air dance floor jukebox, a bingo parlor and a bar,” and said he believes a family restaurant would be a good addition to the area.
Greensboro Street resident Dianne Wheatley spoke in opposition, but her concerns were based mainly on limited parking in that area. E. Greensboro Street is “a parking nightmare,” she said, and she was worried a restaurant in the area would make it worse.
Alderwoman Lisa Weeks pointed out the restaurant should attract plenty of walk-up traffic, suggesting the owners could install a bike rack to encourage residents and visitors staying on the north end of the island to bike.
In addition to worries about parking, Wrightsville Beach Police Chief Dan House raised public safety concerns based on the building’s former occupants. Despite Buddy’s origins as a restaurant, he noted, his department received 178 complaints about the establishment related to noise and alcohol during the last five years.
In addition to late-night crowds, residents have expressed concerns about the noise created by dumping glass bottles late at night or early in the morning. The board set a condition on the permit mandating all deliveries and dumping of bottles occur between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Mayor Bill Blair pointed out that the proposed restaurant should be less disruptive to neighbors than previous establishments at that location.
“I hear your concerns about noise,” he said, “but if they do this project halfway right, they won’t need to be open until 2 or 3 [a.m.], so I think that issue gets alleviated.”
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