Following the closure of Buzz’s Roost at 15 S. Front St. in December, the building was leased Jan. 1 to Rebellion, a Washington D.C.-based bar and restaurant whose owners plan to open next month.
Founding partner Brian “Wes” Westlye said Rebellion was born from a love of American history and great cocktails, named for the Whiskey Rebellion, a tax protest beginning in 1791 against the first tax imposed during the presidency of George Washington. The so-called "whiskey tax" was intended to help lessen the federal deficit, but was not met kindly by farmers who used a substantial portion of their grain to make whiskey.
Opening in D.C.’s north Dupont neighborhood in 2014, Rebellion quickly began drawing crowds with its list of more than 400 whiskeys and craft cocktails.
But Westlye said Rebellion has evolved beyond just cocktails. He and co-founder Lenny Codispot have taken on a third partner, chef Travis Weiss, to elevate Rebellion’s food offerings beyond just the basics.
The menu in Wilmington will include traditional American comfort food found in taverns, Westlye said. Customers will find burgers, sandwiches, salads and wings that are smoked and then fried for smoky flavor and crispy skin.
Rebellion will serve 27 beers on tap, with a focus on North Carolina craft beer. There will also be a large selection of whiskey, although Westlye said that because of North Carolina ABC regulations, the selection will likely not be as large as in D.C.
Westlye, who has family in Wilmington, said he and his partners also considered Charleston when seeking a second location, but ultimately decided on Wilmington when the Front Street space became available.
“We knew we wanted to come south and really feel that we have something to offer the downtown Wilmington dining scene,” Westlye said. “We have a great location right in the heart of downtown and have put a lot of work into transforming the space.”
Renovations have included new floors, the removal of sheetrock to expose the natural brick walls, and new paint throughout. The space will seat about 150 guests, with additional seating at the bar and on the patio.
Westlye and his partners are hoping to open the second week in March.
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