Newest Location Of Popular Cafe Chain Drifts Into Downtown

By Jenny Callison, posted Aug 17, 2022
Ben and Michael Powell have opened their fifth location of Drift in downtown Wilmington. (File photo)
The latest location of Drift Coffee + Kitchen is now open in downtown Wilmington. It’s situated in the space at 221 N. Front St. formerly occupied by Wilmington Downtown Inc. The storefront shop, bordered by the Arts Council of Wilmington & NHC gallery and office on one side, and the renovated Bijou Park on the other, poured its first cup Aug. 5.
The location’s menu encompasses a variety of breakfast items – specialty sandwiches, toasts, breads and burritos – along with coffees, teas and fruity drink concoctions. Lunch offerings, available after 11 a.m., include a couple of vegetarian options.
Drift’s interior aims for light and bright, with white walls and furnishings, natural wood floors and accents, and basket light fixtures.

The downtown coffee spot follows the Drift coffee shop and kitchen model, said Michael Powell, who co-owns Drift with his brother Ben. 

"This iteration is the same as ... Mayfaire and Ocean Isle Beach, and has basically the same menu. But when we open a new store we add a couple of items we'd like to test out," he said Tuesday. "Our café model at Wrightsville Beach requires more space for storage and prep, and requires a larger staff."
Since the coffee shop opened, patrons have found their way to it despite the construction disruption along North Front Street, Powell said. But because of the construction, the coffee shop has established temporary hours initially. It is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Saturday; and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The kitchen closes one hour prior to the coffee shop's closing time.
This latest addition brings the number of Drift locations to five. The Powell brothers launched their enterprise in Ocean Isle Beach in 2015 and opened a fourth location in the former Causeway Cafe in Wrightsville Beach in the spring. 
The Powells are former competitive surfers who developed a taste for good coffee and pursued a quest for the perfect cup as they traveled the globe in search of the perfect wave. The brothers' menus feature the kind of food they enjoy: “items that are minimally processed, nutritious, fun and flavorful,” according to the Drift website.

All dishes are made in the Drift kitchens and prepared fresh for each order, using local ingredients when possible. The coffee, according to the website, comes from Ceremony Coffee Roasters, a small-batch, specialty coffee roaster.
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