Sorrow Drowner Reopens With Renewed Focus On Food And Drink

By Miriah Hamrick, posted Nov 23, 2022
The Sorrow Drowner, located at 19 S. 10th St., reopened in September after a string of issues forced the owner to close for eight weeks this summer. (Photo courtesy of The Sorrow Drowner)
Less than three months after The Sorrow Drowner opened in April, the doors to the adventure-themed tiki bar closed.
Owner Alfred Wheatley cited a string of issues in those early months, punctuated by a refrigerator that “literally exploded” during a week when the business was empty with multiple staff out sick with COVID. Supply chain issues prevented the business from reopening for more than eight weeks, time that Wheatley said he used to regroup and retool for an improved second opening in September. 
“We’ve been back open for three months now. We figured out what was holding us back before. We figured out what’s working for us now,” Wheatley said.
One change is a pared-back events calendar. Before the hiatus this summer, The Sorrow Drowner hosted variety shows every Friday and Saturday evening, but Wheatley said it was difficult to book acts that fit the business’s old-timey vaudeville concept. Furthermore, Wheatley said the show started to detract from what was originally intended to be the main event: the drinks and food.  
“We were supposed to be a tiki bar that had a show, not a dinner theater. It felt like people only wanted to come for the show,” Wheatley said.
To that tune, Wheatley hired chef Al Devane, and the two are working to hone the menu.
“This new chef is passionate about creating dishes and evolving our menu,” Wheatley said.
With new culinary talent on board, Wheatley said the kitchen is tweaking dishes by intentionally sourcing ingredients and offering more housemade elements. For example, the restaurant’s pupu platter still includes customer favorites like crab rangoon and spring rolls, as well as the Hong Kong-style bao buns stuffed with pork. But the huli huli chicken skewers now feature local chicken basted in sweet, tangy huli huli sauce, and the crab rangoons are made in-house.  
Wheatley and Devane are also working on a family-style brunch, which Wheatley hopes to roll out in December.
At the bar, seasonal cocktails have joined more than 25 craft cocktails on The Sorrow Drowner’s menu. The current seasonal offering is the Sorrow Harvester’s Grog, crafted with End of Days’ Port of Entry Rum and Barrel Rested Rum plus local apple cider, blood orange juice and blood orange syrup.  
“It’s very, very good,” Wheatley said. “Spiced with cinnamon and clove and a little bit of anise, just a touch of anise so it gives it a little bit of a weird kick at the end.”
Wheatley is working to build the calendar of events over time to supplement the monthly variety shows. One option is screening old movies; Indiana Jones and Allan Quatermain films were mentioned as examples of the kind of films Wheatley envisions fitting with the theme of the business. Another option is world history trivia.
Have a tip for Restaurant Roundup? Email us at [email protected].
Ico insights



A Simple Approach To Difficult Conversations

Dane Scalise - GriffinEstep Benefit Group
Brookeskipper saltair headshot2

Improving Indoor Air Quality Requires a Systematic Approach

Brooke Skipper - Salt Air
Headshotrosaliecalarco 1182131047

Free Wilmington Screening of "Dear Sirs"

Trending News

Avelo Airlines Extends Seasonal Offerings At ILM

Miriah Hamrick - Dec 5, 2022

More Space To Film: Dark Horse Studios Plans $20M Expansion

Cece Nunn - Dec 5, 2022

Wilmington Named As A Top City For Remote Workers In Nationwide Study

Staff Reports - Dec 6, 2022

Endowment To Announce Inaugural Grant Recipients At Friday Event

Staff Reports - Dec 5, 2022

At Chamber’s Economic Summit, Experts Talk Talent And Site Selection

Johanna F. Still - Dec 6, 2022

In The Current Issue

Back To School At Any Age

Amy Keith returned to UNCW in 2009, this time as a program coordinator at OLLI, which focuses on lifelong learning for people 50 and older....

Local Port Volumes Remain Strong

As consumer spending remains persistent in the face of rising interest rates and pessimistic economic forecasts, a consistent stream of good...

FILM FOCUS: Moving Needle Of Moving Pictures

"The heart of our company is we create content that inspires and moves the needle forward. We produce branded entertainment documentaries, n...

Book On Business

The 2022 WilmingtonBiz: Book on Business is an annual publication showcasing the Wilmington region as a center of business.

Order Your Copy Today!



Trying to Grow a Business?
2020 Health Care Heroes
2020 WilmingtonBiz 100