Port City Bites: Big Ocean Cider Co., King Neptune Lives On

Jimmy Gleece, owner of Jimmy’s Wrightsville Beach, has taken over King Neptune in Wrightsville Beach. (Courtesy picture)

SOUTHEAST NC – Lots of movement is happening around the Port City when it comes to restaurants, food trucks, bars, and bottle shops, not to mention organizational and nonprofit food events and festivals. While Port City Daily already covers most of this news, “Small Bites” offers another way for readers to stay in the know.

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Each week, this column will reveal newsworthy information, smaller changes and changes to local menus, expansions of existing establishments, temporary closures and renovations, overtime or grand openings, pop-up events and, of course, openings and closings.

Big Flavor, Big Ocean Cider Co.

Flying Machine Brewing Company launched Big Ocean Cider Co. on Friday (Courtesy photo)

Flying Machine Brewing Company is getting into the cider game. The Wilmington plant launched Big Ocean Cider Co. on Friday, with its new product being sold at FMB taprooms on both Racine Drive and Wrightsville Beach. Co-owner Grant Steadman said it’s been part of the business plan since day one.

“We’ve been talking about cider since we opened the dining room in 2018 and got a ton of requests for a gluten-free option,” he told the Port City Daily.

The team began focusing on these efforts in April 2021. The 5% ABV sipper is a good summer option with refreshing notes of pear and white grape.

“It’s not too sweet but it’s tasty,” Steadman assured. “The flavor comes from the quality of the apples and the choice of yeast.

Flying Machine brewing and cider operations manager Erik Peterson uses US-grown apples and chose a dry English cider yeast.

Steadman said the company has produced 20 barrels so far and starting next week it will be distributed to local outlets. The next batch, already in the tank, will be bigger.

“The more product we have, the more we will distribute,” he said, aiming to enter more restaurants, bottle shops and bars in the Cape Fear area.

Steadman said they are also considering a cast in the Triangle.

More fruit flavors are being tested for rollout in the coming months. It remains to be seen whether the owners of the brewery will develop the brand into a stand-alone cider house.

“Given the high cost of construction or renovation right now, we don’t have any immediate plans,” Steadman said, “but we certainly haven’t ruled it out for the future.”

Still, more growth is on the horizon. Steadman and his business partner David Sweigart launched Flying Machine in Wrightsville Beach – the first combined tap room and kitchen – last summer. He said expansion of their plan locally and across the state is likely.

“We love creating experiences, and bathrooms and restaurants are the perfect way to do that,” Steadman said.

Owner of Jimmy’s in Wrightsville Beach to relaunch King Neptune

A Wrightsville Beach tradition that began in the mid-1940s will continue.

Jimmy and Keaton Gilleece have taken over 11 N. Lumina Ave., next to their famous bar, Jimmy’s. The iconic King Neptune – which closed last August – will be up and running again by August, Gilleece has confirmed.

“It’s going to be difficult to make three generations of customers happy, but I think if anyone can do it, we can,” Gilleece told the Port City Daily.

Gilleece took over operations from Danny and Earl McPherson, brothers who had run King Neptune since 2012. They focused on breakfast, lunch and dinner, with breakfast and brunch items selling so well that they inspired their other restaurant concept, Brunches, which launched in 2019. Brunches have since taken off, with the brothers operating two locations in Wilmington and a third along the way, as well as upcoming restaurants in the Triangle area, with l goal of having 50 in the franchise by 2025.

READ MORE: King Neptune brothers open brunches in Mayfaire, second location to come

The McPhersons were working with building owner Reggie Barnes to figure out how to keep the institution alive, though neither confirmed they would be the ones to reopen King Neptune. Earlier this week, a new plan came to fruition, as Gilleece announced he would officially implement it with his wife and longtime friend and Raleigh boss John Anderson.

“Johnny sold his house and moved out yesterday,” Gilleece said.

It is the first restaurant that Gilleece owns, although he is confident that he will achieve success thanks to the 70 years of experience he and his partners have in the hospitality industry. The goal is to modernize King Neptune, he said.

They will spend the summer renovating the dining room and the kitchen. Anderson is designing a menu that will feature seafood, focusing on fresh, local produce.

“Prices are up in the air,” Gilleece said. “Fresh fish is not cheap these days.”

They will work with local vendors and also feature some of Neptune’s classics. There will also be a premium cocktail and wine list on the restaurant side.

“It’ll be a little nicer, but you can still get off the beach and grab a sandwich,” Gilleece said.

An element that will not change: the Pirate Lounge right next door. It will remain intimate and laid back, a fundamental part of Wrightsville Beach culture, its walls covered in memorabilia, its barflies tasked with scoring the catchiest shots.

County proposes to add more health inspectors in new budget

New Hanover County commissioners reviewed a draft budget at Monday’s meeting, which included the addition of five environmental health specialists.

County Manager Chris Coudriet told council that community growth dictated the move. The five new positions are valued at $420,000.

“I know it’s never easy for the board to struggle to add more people,” Coudriet said during the meeting, “but it was easy for me to recommend five health specialists to you. environmental to ensure that our restaurants are safe and hygienic, that our hotels are clean when our customers stay there, but also that our public swimming pools are properly inspected daily.

Currently, 12 stations exist in the county, each authorized by the state to perform inspections. According to county spokesman Alex Riley, 10 have been filled and two are in the process of being hired. The additional roles would help address the increased volume the Department of Environmental Health is experiencing.

“We have seen a significant increase in the need for inspections of food services, accommodation, swimming pools, child care centers and other institutions that require inspection by our department,” Riley wrote to the Port City Daily.

The five additional positions were determined by the Staffing Level Assessment Tool (SLAT) the state uses to assess annual quality assurance expectations for its food licensing and inspection program, a explained Riley.

Nearly 2,000 establishments are regulated in the department. Local food and beverage establishments — restaurants, food stalls, mobile food units, meat markets and push carts — require nearly 11,000 county staff hours per year to conduct inspections.

In total, inspection tasks represent 22,000 hours per year. Environmental health specialists also oversee school canteens, accommodation, bed and breakfasts and inns, school buildings, residential care, limited food kiosks, nursing homes, nursing homes, school kitchens, etc. facility, local confinements, swimming pools, wading pools, spas, adult and tattoo artist daycares, as well as 15 body piercers.

County commissioners will vote on the proposed budget by June.

Peach Cobbler Factory has launched a new app that allows customers to order ahead and skip the line for pickup. (Courtesy picture)

Peach Cobbler Factory launches “Skip the Line” on mobile

Carolina Beach got its first glimpse of the Peach Cobbler Factory when it opened at 1010 Lake Park Blvd St. on Valentine’s Day. Now, customers can get even faster service by placing orders on the app or through its website before their visit. Upon arrival, they will be able to skip the line for pickup.

The Peach Cobbler Factory sells 12 cobbler flavors – blackberry, peach, cherry, apple, sweet potato-pecan, and more. – topped with vanilla ice cream and its magical sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. The company also serves, besides the original, five varieties of Banana Pudding (Chocolate Chip, Nutella, Red Velvet, Oreo, Strawberry), three flavors of Cobbler-Stuffed Cinnamon Rolls (Nutella, Cobbler’s Choice or vanilla-cinnamon) and a strawberry-peach specialty tea.

The new dessert chain – operated by CEO Greg George who lives on Pleasure Island – plans to open 50 stores by the end of the year, with the aim of rolling out 200 by 2024. Stores have opened last month in Alabama and Ohio. .

George and co-owners Vinny Doria and Corey Carter also want to launch stores in Leland, downtown Wilmington, Porters Neck, Hampstead and Jacksonville.

“It’s just a matter of time,” George told the Port City Daily last December. “There has never been anything like it in this area.”

Morgan’s Seafood opens in Ogden

Earlier this month, Morgan’s Seafood opened its second Ogden location in the Publix Mall at 7150 Market St. Suite 100. Owned and operated by Tyler Morgan, the 65-seat fast-casual restaurant specializes in seafood fried and grilled.

“There’s really no seafood in the general area of ​​Ogden that’s cheaper, your kind of place served on a paper plate,” Tyler told the Port City Daily last year when he announced that a second location was coming.

Tyler took over his first seafood restaurant at 4023 Market Street when it was Carolina Fish Fry. By November 2021, it had spun off from the franchise and rebranded as Morgan’s.

“As an independent restaurant owner, I will have more freedom to control those decisions and implement customer feedback,” Morgan said. “On the one hand, I will also have more fresh food.”

Flounder, oysters, popcorn or jumbo shrimp, devil crab, scallops and strips of clams are all offered as platters, sandwiches, salads, as well as snacks and baskets. The restaurant also serves cheeseburgers, barbecue sandwiches and chicken tenders.

The new Ogden Restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

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