By Daja Terry
When Danielle Mahon started Topsail Steamer in 2016, she had a clear idea of how her business would succeed. Now, after the unique dining concept proved to be a hit in Topsail Beach, the entrepreneur is ready to bring her approach to carry-out food to Wrightsville Beach. “I always knew I wanted to have multiple locations,” Mahon said. “Wrightsville Beach just felt like the right place to expand.”
Just in time for Memorial Day, the opening of Topsail Steamer’s new Wrightsville Beach location at 530 Causeway Drive is set for Thursday, May 24.
A Raleigh native, Mahon grew up in a family of entrepreneurs, and she always knew that she wanted to start a business—she just didn’t know what to do yet. With a background in sales and marketing, as well as life sciences at Research Triangle Park, Mahon knew what she had to do.
“The timing was just right,” Mahon said. “We were empty nesters, so we left Raleigh for Topsail.”
Mahon is already taking orders at her new Wrightsville Beach location.
Mahon describes Topsail Steamer as a “sort of Chipotle or Subway style” restaurant. Customers can order their food at the counter, building their own Bay Bucket with a base, shrimp, snow crabs, clams, or sausage, and then top it off with one of four homemade seasonings. With another option to order online or over the phone, customers can set a time and date and the team at Topsail Steamer will have it ready. Prices range from $25 with a Low Tider Build Your Own Bay Bucket to a $125 High Tider with a Full Steamer that includes 6.5 lbs of seafood, vegetables and seasonings.
“I’m not concerned about competition,” Mahon said. “We have a unique model, and our brand is customer service.”
Her team is made up of University of North Carolina Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College students and graduates, as well as other locals. They will be splitting their time between the Wrightsville Beach and Topsail Beach locations. In addition to that, Mahon’s children will be helping her run the business at both locations. She said that customers always have a pleasant experience because her team exudes friendliness.
Mahon listed three things that Topsail Steamer brings to the table: quality food that is locally sourced, convenience and experience. Customers can send in photos of them enjoying Topsail Steamer’s Bay Buckets. While customers cannot cook in the pot again, it can be reused for potted plants, shelving, or whatever else they may need.
Their Bay Buckets range from Traditional Low Country to New England Clam Bake, and there are many choices in between.
“We’ve got the pot. You pick the spot,” she said. “We give them the tools, and after adding some water and letting it cook for forty minutes, they’ve got a meal.”
Wrightsville Beach is a hotspot for tourists, and Mahon knew how great the residential community would be in addition to that. When asked if she considered changing Topsail Steamer to Wrightsville Beach Steamer, she said, “We started in Topsail, so it just felt right to keep that. I also just think Topsail is a good word.”
Topsail Steamer is open seven days a week from 12–7 p.m. on weekdays and 12–8 p.m on weekends. The official Wrightsville Beach Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting will be held June 13 at noon.