Blue Surf, a fixture on the Wilmington dining scene since 2013, has opened a second location at Arboretum West, a new development at Military Cutoff and Station roads.
The restaurant’s original location is at 250 Racine Drive in Racine Commons, near the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and prior to 2013 was known as Surf House.
Blue Surf managing partner Colleen Kochanek, Stephanie Norris, executive chef Jon Webb, bar manger Wes Miles and pastry chef Katie George, held a soft opening last Friday and Saturday, taking Sunday and Monday to regroup and address any issues that came up during the first few days of service.
Like so many restaurants, Blue Surf is struggling to reach the level of kitchen staff necessary to be open full time. The restaurant is currently open for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. and owners hope it can be open for lunch within the next few weeks, followed by breakfast.
Kochanek said she and Webb have been working on plans for a second restaurant for some time now, although she originally envisioned a downtown location. It was important to both she and Webb that a second location be able to serve an expanded dinner menu with some slightly higher-end meals, but that the low-key vibe of the restaurant remain the same.
“We don’t want to be fine dining; we don’t want to be stuffy or pretentious,” Kochanek said. “We want to serve really good food in a very casual setting, and I feel like we’ve hit that.”
With an established customer base and sales at the original location now finally back at pre-pandemic levels, Kochanek and her partners are feeling positive about the growth of their brand and are eager to welcome guests to their new location.
The new constructed space includes 3,300 square feet of indoor dining space with seating for about 85 guests as well as a spacious, 1,500-square-foot covered patio with a large fireplace, indoor-outdoor bar, outdoor seating and several lounge areas.
Kochanek, who worked with Wilmington-based Smith + Gsell design studio, said she’s thrilled with how the space turned out.
“It’s been a long road, but it’s really come together and I’m so pleased,” Kochanek said.
Kochanek said breakfast and lunch will be very similar at the new location, and the expanded dinner offerings will include filet mignon; fish and grits prepared with a fresh catch of the day; and an Italian-inspired chicken dish.
Customer favorites such as the mojo pork and brisket will carry over, and Webb has added a variety of new appetizers as well. He’s currently working on a late-night menu to be offered after dinner service has ended since the bar will remain open until at least midnight.
The bar at Blue Surf Arboretum West will offer a rotating selection of 12 beers on tap, bottled and canned beer, wine and cocktails.
Along with an oversized fireplace, overhead heaters have been installed on the patio so it can be enjoyed year-round. The patio also includes an area that can be utilized as a private event space or an overflow dining area. Kochanek hopes to soon be booking live music for brunch and weekend evenings.
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