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Tugboat Tows Exclusive Commodore Club To Wrightsville Beach

By Cece Nunn, posted Jan 23, 2024
A tug boat tows the 480-ton Commodore Club, a $9 million social club and indoor-outdoor restaurant, down the Cape Fear River on Tuesday. (Photo by Will McLawhorn)

On Tuesday morning, a tug boat named Miss Shelby towed a unique, two-story structure down the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington on its journey to Wrightsville Beach.

The Commodore Club, a $9 million indoor-outdoor social club and restaurant, will reside on a custom-built barge at Wrightsville Yacht Club on the Intracoastal Waterway. 

At 120 feet long and 30 feet wide, the club had to be built at a shipyard near the Battleship North Carolina in Wilmington while crews made the barge in Florida, said Bryan Thomas, president of club builder Monteith Construction. Wilmington-based Kersting Architecture designed the facility. 

In the works for several years, the Commodore Club evolved from a napkin sketch, Thomas said.

“It’s really a club focused on people who love boating and love that lifestyle,” he said. Think of a tennis or golf club but instead centered around marina life and “bringing the next-level amenity to the region.” 

The club, which weighs about 480 tons, was 85% complete as of Tuesday.

“We’ve got about 60 to 70 days of additional work to do on the inside – mainly finishes, flooring, final painting, glass handrails, wood stairs, things like that,” Thomas said.

Also, as of Tuesday, the club had just under 400 members. The initial membership fee was $20,000, with annual dues of $2,500.

Officials announced in 2022 that well-known Triangle restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias would lead the Commodore Club’s food and beverage program. The club is expected to hold three dining areas designed by Bakatsias Hospitality Group, including an umbrellaed terrace open to the public. Bakatsias has two other restaurants in Wilmington: Kipos Hellenic Cuisine in Lumina Station and G-Prime, a steakhouse at the former home of Port City Chop House, 1981 Eastwood Road.

When he was still in the early stages of menu creation in November 2022, Bakatsias told the Greater Wilmington Business Journal that the fare at the Commodore Club would be “classic American” cuisine with select cuts of meat and seafood, which he plans to “take to another level of freshness” given the kitchen’s proximity to the ocean.

Thomas said he expects the Commodore Club’s official opening to occur around May or June.

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