The Trolly Stop Grill and Catering on Fountain Drive is up for grabs.
The owners of the hot dog shop and catering operation are selling off their business, with an eye toward retirement and family time.
The listing price of $150,000 includes the restaurant, three hot dog carts, three catering vans and the rest of the pieces to jump in, said Rich Walsh, who along with his wife, Kathy, bought the location six years ago.
Hampstead-based VR Business Brokers is handling the sale.
“This is a turnkey operation,” Rich Walsh said. “Whoever gets it has to be a hands-on owner; they can’t be an absent owner.”
Trolly Stop, first opened in 1976, has four remaining locations – the original in Wrightsville Beach, the Walshes’ Fountain Drive spot near the University of North Carolina Wilmington, one in Southport and one in Chapel Hill.
The others are individually owned, and only the Fountain Drive restaurant is up for sale.
The Fountain Drive location has been around for 15 years, Rich Walsh said. While small – it seats about 16-18 inside under the current COVID-related restrictions on indoor dining and another 16-20 outside – the restaurant is also a hub for its catering activity.
Rich Walsh said that catering makes up half his revenue. “In August of 2019, we did 85 caterings in 39 days,” he said, adding that their vans and carts were popular options for parties and weddings “because they love the icon of the hot dog cart … Trolly Stop’s is a brand that’s been in the Cape Fear for 45 years.”
The dip in events because of COVID-19 last year put a dent in that activity, he said. But carryout and delivery orders never slowed down, Rich Walsh added.
Now as event bookings ramp back up, the biggest challenge, he said, is finding enough available employees in the market, an issue that other restaurant owners have experienced. The recent extension through September of enhanced federal unemployment benefits – $300 more a week on top of what the state pays – is expected to add to the hospitality industry’s challenges for staffing up in the busy summer months.
Rich Walsh said the couple had always planned on selling the eatery. They bought it after their semi-first retirement – Rich from an electric and gas company and Kathy from a phone company. Now after investing heavily in the business to expand it over the years, they are ready to transition out.
“Our goal was to keep it five years and sell it, and now it’s six years,” Rich Walsh said. “It’s time to get back to our retirement.”