For over 47 years, 5 Cape Fear Blvd. in Carolina Beach was home to Surfside Bar, operated by Loretta Gunter until she decided to close the boardwalk bar earlier this year. Now, the site will be home to Nauti Dog, a restaurant offering hot dogs, a full bar, craft beer and window take-out.
Rebekah Cholawa, along with Michael Urti and Ked Kottrell, former owners of Jack’s Retreat Beer Garden and Dog House that was previously at 103 Cape Fear Blvd., partnered to purchase the new location and rebrand Jack’s Retreat as a year-round restaurant with a new name.
The owners wanted to relocate Jack’s Retreat because its small size did not allow for growth, Cholawa said.
“The location was so small they would run out of things and would have to stop doing business,” she said. “We wanted to turn it into a restaurant with a full menu, with a bar and craft beers. We found a great name, great new logo, and we designed the new restaurant based on our brand decision. There will be a lot of bar area, there are half garage doors for a dual inside-outside bar that is a cool concept. In addition to that we have a large to-go window.”
The restaurant will serve hot dogs, large enough for a meal and with several meat options, different bun options, several toppings and gluten-free and meatless choices, Cholawa said.
“It won’t be our focus but we are including plant-based sausage from Beyond Meat,” she said. “It has no soy, no gluten; it's kosher and non-GMO.”
For those cutting carbs, there will also be an option of lettuce cups instead of buns.
Nauti Dog will have chilled beer mugs and serve craft beer as well as other more traditional beers.
While owners planned to open the restaurant in the summer, renovations required more time, Cholawa said.
“We had to change our opening date many times because of construction delays,” she said. “Me and my two partners purchased the building and as we slowly went into rehab we found more and more things that needed repairs. The building has a lot of history and we wanted to do it right.”
Currently, owners are planning a soft opening in September.
Because Nauti Dog will be open year-round, the owners want to appeal to both tourists and locals.
“We want to cater to locals with rotating specials and local royalty programs,” Cholawa said. “We all live on the island; we are part of the local community so it’s important to keep that during the offseason and make sure locals are happy during the on-season when we get inundated with tourists.”
The new restaurant, which has an industrial design mixed with a clean, beachy style, will also develop an app where customers can order food from the beach with their phones and be notified when the food is ready to pick up at the take-out window, she said.
“We will have specialty boxes conducive for easy eating on the beach,” Cholawa said. “We will also be offering unique six-packs so people can build their own craft beer packs to go.”
Cholawa said renovations at the new location have been underway for almost a year.
“We love Carolina Beach,” she said. “We did not want to go anywhere else.”