Wilmington Magazine May-June 2022

If you're looking for interior design ideas, this is the issue! We showcase several top projects from local designers, that will inspire you. We also feature a unique custom home build with an Irish twist. And we feature top lunch spots - try them all.

If you're looking for interior design ideas, this is the issue! We showcase several top projects from local designers, that will inspire you. We also feature a unique custom home build with an Irish twist. And we feature top lunch spots - try them all.


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MAY / JUNE <strong>2022</strong><br />

The<br />

Interior<br />

Design<br />

Issue<br />

Waterfront View<br />

A New Locale for<br />

Legendary Steaks<br />

Irish Roots<br />

A Custom Manor with<br />

Gothic Style<br />




A LOCAL<br />

SPRING<br />


2 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com


167 Porters Neck Rd. (beyond Lowe’s Shopping Center)<br />

STORE HOURS: Mon-Fri 10am-5pm • Sat 11am-3pm<br />

sugarwoodnc.com | 910.319.7779<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 1

Sunrise? Sunset? We’ve got you covered!<br />

56 Pelican Drive<br />

Wrightsville Beach<br />

$7,395,000<br />

5 BR, 5.5 BA • 4989 sq ft<br />

Intracoastal front home with<br />

2 boat slips and spectacular water<br />

views from all main rooms.<br />

813 S. Lumina Avenue • Wrightsville Beach • $3,195,000<br />

Imagine a lifetime of glorious sunrises over the rolling Atlantic surf; kite surfers and<br />

sailboats dancing off shore. Locals love the south end of Wrightsville Beach with<br />

the protected deep water inlet and extended natural dunes.<br />

101 Island Drive • Shore Acres • $1,649,000<br />

<strong>May</strong>be the best sunset in Wrightsville Beach! A prize location on the south end of Harbor Island looking over the grassed park ensuring<br />

gorgeous views of Banks Channel and Seapath Marina. Unobstructed views make 101 Island Drive one of the best spots for all things<br />

water related.<br />

8204 Bald Eagle Lane<br />

Porters Neck Plantation<br />

$4,795,000<br />

5 BR, 5 BA, 2 half baths • 6095 sq ft<br />

Be prepared to be swept off of your feet!<br />

Overlooking the intracoastal waterway,<br />

Figure 8 Island and distant views of the<br />

Atlantic Ocean.<br />

2 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Sunrise? Sunset? We’ve got you covered!<br />

15 Myrtle Court<br />

Wrightsville Beach<br />

$2,200,000<br />

3 BR, 3.5 BA • 2680 sq ft<br />

Charming Harbor Island home<br />

nestled among beautiful live oaks .<br />

813 S. Lumina Avenue • Wrightsville Beach • $3,195,000<br />

Imagine a lifetime of glorious sunrises over the rolling Atlantic surf; kite surfers and<br />

sailboats dancing off shore. Locals love the south end of Wrightsville Beach with<br />

the protected deep water inlet and extended natural dunes.<br />

101 Island Drive • Shore Acres • $1,649,000<br />

<strong>May</strong>be the best sunset in Wrightsville Beach! A prize location on the south end of Harbor Island looking over the grassed park ensuring<br />

gorgeous views of Banks Channel and Seapath Marina. Unobstructed views make 101 Island Drive one of the best spots for all things<br />

water related.<br />

1816 Pembroke Jones Drive<br />

Landfall<br />

$749,000<br />

4 BR, 2.5 BA • 2992 sq ft<br />

Conveniently located just inside<br />

the Eastwood and Drysdales<br />

gates.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 3

custom window treatments, bedding, furniture & more<br />

fabrics and trims to customize your home<br />

7016 B Market St, <strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC • 910-686-2950 • Tuesday–Saturday from 10am to 4pm<br />

ArteeFabricsAndHome.com<br />

4 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

Like us on

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 5

<strong>May</strong> / <strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

70<br />

A Little Bit of Ireland<br />

A cherished homeland<br />

inspires a stunning<br />

Gothic manor<br />

By Lori Wilson<br />

A boyhood church in<br />

Barrowhouse, Ireland,<br />

of County Laois, that<br />

dubs itself a “chapel<br />

of ease” was the<br />

architectural inspiration<br />

of an Irish son who now<br />

calls <strong>Wilmington</strong> home.<br />

66<br />

Lunching Like<br />

a Local<br />

Where to find the best<br />

midday munchies<br />

By Fanny Slater<br />

58<br />

Interior Design in<br />

the Port City<br />

Design firms in the<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> area<br />

describe their niches<br />

in a booming<br />

housing market<br />

By Judy Royal<br />


6 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 7

MAY / JUNE <strong>2022</strong><br />

Departments » <strong>May</strong> / <strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

Buzz<br />

15<br />

15 Celebrating 25 Years<br />

Innovation and vison are<br />

behind the company’s<br />

silver anniversary<br />

16 Events Your guide to<br />

planning your free time<br />

28 Staff Picks Biographies<br />

with a N.C. connection<br />

31 Senior Living Planning<br />

for active living in<br />

retirement at Brightmore<br />

32 Art Seen An<br />

international dancer<br />

finds her rhythm in the<br />

Port City<br />

36 Money Matters Building<br />

financial foundations for<br />

community trust<br />

38 Newsmaker The “Big<br />

Sky” is the limit for this<br />

25-year interior design<br />

firm<br />

40 Southern Drawl<br />

Across three counties,<br />

Communities in Schools<br />

is connecting students to<br />

programs and resources<br />

43 79<br />

94<br />

Well Styled Food+Drink Travel<br />

43 Day Trip A winery<br />

and distillery and newly<br />

opened spa beckon<br />

visitors to Elizabethtown<br />

for a relaxing day<br />

44 Garden A backyard<br />

pond where the goldfish<br />

swirl<br />

46 Design Paysage<br />

connects interior design<br />

to the people who live<br />

inside<br />

48 Getaway A nearby spacation<br />

with spirits<br />

50 Fashion Eye-catching<br />

looks to dress it up this<br />

season<br />

79 New Locale for<br />

Legendary Steaks<br />

Ruth’s Chris new<br />

riverfront location seals<br />

its five-star status<br />

80 Dining Out Fashionably<br />

modern, Ruth’s Chris<br />

new location has an<br />

expansive outdoor<br />

mezzanine that overlooks<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong>’s riverfront<br />

82 In the Kitchen<br />

Tantalizing twists on<br />

summer’s homespun<br />

classics<br />

86 Libations The “wild<br />

white grape” of spring<br />

88 Restaurant Guide The<br />

best spots for eating and<br />

drinking in <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

94 The Lure of Savannah<br />

An undercurrent of<br />

nonconformity echoes<br />

bewitchingly through the<br />

culturally diverse 18th<br />

century riverside city<br />

82<br />

Fundamentals<br />

10 Reader Services<br />

14 Editor's Letter<br />

96 The Last Reflection<br />

<strong>May</strong>/<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

An Irish Manor • New Locale for Legendary Steaks • Creating a Backyard Pond <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

The<br />

Interior<br />

Design<br />

Issue<br />




A LOCAL<br />

Waterfront View<br />

A New Locale for<br />

Legendary Steaks<br />

Irish Roots<br />

A Custom Manor with<br />

Gothic Style<br />

SPRING<br />


40<br />

8 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

44 50<br />

ON THE COVER »<br />

The extensive wine cellar at<br />

Ruth’s Chris Steak House<br />


<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 9

CEO & Publisher<br />

Robert Sweeney<br />

Executive Director of Operations<br />

Emily Sweeney<br />

■ ■ ■<br />

Managing Editor<br />

Elizabeth Norfleet Sugg<br />

■ ■ ■<br />

Advertising Director<br />

Sybil Stokes, 910-508-5158<br />

Art Director<br />

Shanna Thomson<br />

Graphic Designers<br />

Kristina Parolla<br />

Shanna Thomson<br />

Carl Turner<br />

Serving the Entire<br />


SOLD<br />

Travel Director<br />

Katie McElveen<br />

Contributing Writers<br />

Lewis Bowling, Kaitlin Gooding,<br />

Christine Hall, Kim Henry, Ray Linville,<br />

Judy Royal, Fanny Slater, Elizabeth Sugg,<br />

Ann Marie Thornton, Lori Wilson,<br />

Vera Wilson<br />


1607 Crow’s Landing • $565,000<br />


806 Fox Ridge Lane • $799,000<br />

Photographers<br />

Kaitlin Gooding, Christine Hall,<br />

G. Frank Hart, Abigail Whitehurst<br />

■ ■ ■<br />

Distribution Coordinator<br />

Joy Brown<br />

■ ■ ■<br />


Customer Service<br />

Corporate Office: 843-856-2532<br />


640 Bedminister Lane • $939,000<br />


1224 Country Club Road • $1,295,000<br />

Landfall Realty can help you with ALL<br />

your real estate needs!<br />

1720 Drysdale Dr, <strong>Wilmington</strong> • 910-256-6111 • landfallrealty.com<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong> (Vol. 10, No. 1)<br />

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Publishing, LLC. The entire contents of<br />

this publication are fully protected and<br />

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responsible for loss of unsolicited materials.<br />

Copyright © <strong>2022</strong>. All rights reserved.<br />

SUBSCRIPTION price is $24.95 per year.<br />

10 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com




<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 11


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Wilt<br />

Mod-O-Doc<br />

Bella Dahl<br />

KinRoss Cashmere<br />

1051 Military Cutoff Road<br />

Suite 103<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC<br />

910.509.0273<br />

coolsweatsatthebeach.com<br />

Reader Services<br />

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Back Issues<br />

When available, back issues of <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

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Writing Opportunities<br />

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or email your ideas or writing queries to<br />

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How to Advertise<br />

If you would like advertising information<br />

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Sybil Stokes 910-508-5158, or on the web at<br />

wilmingtonncmagazine.com.<br />

12 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 13

from the editor<br />

<strong>May</strong>/<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong><br />

An Irish Manor • New Locale for Legendary Steaks • Creating a Backyard Pond <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

MAY / JUNE <strong>2022</strong><br />

The<br />

Interior<br />

Design<br />

Issue<br />




A LOCAL<br />

Waterfront View<br />

A New Locale for<br />

Legendary Steaks<br />

Irish Roots<br />

A Custom Manor with<br />

Gothic Style<br />

SPRING<br />


Give the gift<br />

that lasts<br />

all year long...<br />

a subscription to<br />

Just fill out the postcard in<br />

this issue, call 843.856.2532<br />

or go to<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

Rooted in Home<br />

If there was ever<br />

a magazine issue<br />

that encapsulates<br />

a slice of what is<br />

so pinch-yourself<br />

magnificent about<br />

living in the<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> area, minutes from the Cape<br />

Fear riverfront and the Atlantic Ocean,<br />

this might be it. From the front cover<br />

showcasing the dazzling wine-display<br />

entrance of the new Ruth’s Chris, to a<br />

Gothic manor inspired by an Irishman’s<br />

boyhood church, those two stories<br />

themselves capture two people, one born<br />

in Cuba, the other in County Laois in<br />

Ireland, putting their stamp on the Port<br />

City. The city and its surroundings have<br />

become a melting pot with influences from<br />

all over the globe, and it’s showing up in<br />

architecture and interior design, the arts,<br />

our thriving restaurant scene, and in the<br />

myriad of events the coastal area hosts<br />

every week.<br />

Continuing with the international<br />

theme, ArtSeen profiles dancer and<br />

choreographer Alyona Amato and her<br />

courageous path from her homeland<br />

Russia to pursue her passion for dance in<br />

all its forms, and lucky for us, she loves<br />

to teach. Southern Drawl interviews the<br />

Executive Director of Communities In<br />

Schools Louise Hicks, an organization<br />

that supports students in many ways<br />

across 21 schools in New Hanover, Pender<br />

and Duplin counties. Hicks was born in<br />

England and moved to the U.S. at age 10.<br />

Our Design section in Well-Styled features<br />

Gigi Sireyjol-Horsley, the lead designer<br />

and owner of Paysage, who was born in<br />

Morocco and spent a lot of her youth in<br />

France. Working with Airbnb, Paysage<br />

through matching contributions recently<br />

raised $54,000 to help fund short-term<br />

housing for Ukrainian refugees. These<br />

remarkable people and their passions are<br />

stirring up the good within our community<br />

in meaningful ways.<br />

This issue is rooted in home-based<br />

themes. We focused on interior designers,<br />

and each profile shows how each<br />

business has their own special niche.<br />

Our Newsmaker section highlights<br />

Jennifer Kraner, the founder of Big Sky<br />

Design, which is celebrating 25 years of<br />

commercial and residential design. Our<br />

Garden article may inspire you to take a<br />

shovel and begin digging a backyard pond<br />

“where the goldfish swirl.” In the Kitchen<br />

has some doable twists on homespun<br />

recipes such as a sweet cornbread biscuit<br />

with homemade peach curd that may<br />

be the perfect thing to contribute to a<br />

Mother’s Day or Father’s Day celebration.<br />

We take time with our calendar of<br />

events so please plan your next few weeks<br />

with the magazine in hand. Since so<br />

much of this issue relates to home and<br />

furnishings, don’t miss the furniture<br />

exhibit at CAM in cooperation with the<br />

Museum of Early Southern Decorative<br />

Arts (MESDA) and Old Salem. I was<br />

drawn to all the recurring weekly events<br />

around the community from artisan<br />

markets to turtle talks for families, so<br />

we have a new section featuring those.<br />

One exciting weekly occurrence are the<br />

fireworks at Carolina Beach, which is now<br />

home to a permanent Ferris wheel. That<br />

may be where you find me one evening!<br />

All my best to you this <strong>May</strong> and <strong>June</strong>.<br />

Please email us story ideas – we DO listen.<br />

Elizabeth Norfleet Sugg<br />

editor@wilmingtonncmagazine.com<br />

We welcome your comments. Please<br />

send us your feedback to “Letters to<br />

the Editor,” <strong>Wilmington</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong>,<br />

3853 Colonel Vanderhorst Circle,<br />

Mt. Pleasant, SC 29466 or you can email<br />

us at editor@wilmingtonncmagazine.com<br />


Visit us on our website<br />

wilmingtonncmagazine.com<br />

Find us on Facebook and Instagram<br />

@wilmingtonmagazine<br />

14 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Your Local Rundown on News and Culture<br />

Jennifer Kraner, the<br />

founder and president<br />

of Big Sky Design, has a<br />

degree in art philosophy<br />

and an M.S. in interior<br />

design; her work in art<br />

galleries in New York and<br />

D.C. coupled with years as<br />

a designer in architectural<br />

firms laid the foundation<br />

for her business.<br />


Celebrating<br />

25 years of<br />

Loving What<br />

You Do<br />

Big Sky Design’s<br />

silver anniversary of<br />

residential and commercial<br />

interior design<br />

See page 38<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 15

calendar<br />

The Reveal:<br />

M AY – J U N E<br />

Our five highlights from this issue’s calendar of events.<br />

CAM:<br />

Design<br />

Through<br />

Time<br />

<strong>May</strong> 5 to<br />

July 3<br />

Enjoy a curated<br />

selection of<br />

furniture and objects from the collection<br />

of the Museum of Early Southern<br />

Decorative Arts (MESDA) and Old Salem,<br />

vividly reinterpreted by contemporary<br />

designers working in North Carolina<br />

today. Showing the true power in an<br />

object is its ability to tell a story, Design<br />

Through Time: A Continuing Dialogue is<br />

a collaboration with Daniel Ackermann,<br />

Old Salem and MESDA Chief Curator<br />

and Director of Collections, Research and<br />

Archaeology with Cameron Art Museum<br />

and Design NC. cameronartmuseum.org<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

Greek<br />

Festival<br />

<strong>May</strong> 13-15<br />

Join the Greek<br />

c o m m u n i t y<br />

for their 30th<br />

celebration of<br />

sharing their<br />

culture, faith, heritage and delicious<br />

food during this three-day Festival that<br />

includes authentic Greek food prepared<br />

with time-honored family recipes. Held at<br />

the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church<br />

(608 S. College St.) across the street from<br />

UNCW, enjoy delicious food, traditional<br />

music and dancing, a lively marketplace<br />

and cooking demonstrations. No need<br />

to pre-order, you can attend or use<br />

the Drive-Through! Hours: Friday &<br />

Saturday from 11am to 8pm, Sunday<br />

11am to 5pm. stnicholaswilmington.org/<br />

greek-fest-<strong>2022</strong><br />

SUPER<br />

HEROES<br />

with Heart<br />

<strong>2022</strong> CAPE FEAR HEART BALL<br />

05-20-22<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> Convention Center<br />

515 Nutt Street | <strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC | 28401<br />

Celebrate the American Heart Assocation’s mission to be a rentless force<br />

for a world of longer, healthier lives by joining us for an unforgettable<br />

evening featuring dinner, auctions, music, and dancing at the<br />

<strong>2022</strong> <strong>Wilmington</strong> Convention Cape Center for the <strong>2022</strong> Cape Fear<br />

Heart Ball.<br />



Rick Heart Goldbach, EVP, Ball<br />

Director of the Carolinas,<br />

TowneBank Mortgage<br />

<strong>May</strong> 20<br />


ashley.miller@heart.org • 910.538.9270<br />

Come enjoy a festive evening full<br />

capefearheartball.heart.org<br />

of “heart”. Held at the <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

Convention Center, the Cape Fear chapter<br />

of the American Heart Association<br />

(AHA) has worked tirelessly to make<br />

this fundraising night be a best-in-class<br />

guest experience! The AHA focuses on<br />

the cutting-edge of research, science,<br />

technology and more. Come gather and<br />

celebrate all that has been accomplished.<br />

Doors open at 6pm, with dinner and<br />

dancing from 7:30pm on. event.gives/<br />

capefearheartball<br />

Shakespeare on the Green:<br />

The Winter's Tale<br />

<strong>June</strong> 2-5, 17-19 and 22-23<br />

Spend an evening under the stars at<br />

Greenfield Lake with Shakespeare’s tale<br />

that begins with intense drama, has a<br />

comedic interlude and finishes with a<br />

happy ending. Part of this year’s unique,<br />

live and outdoor Shakespeare on the<br />

Green Festival, The Winter's Tale is filled<br />

with murderous passions, man-eating<br />

bears, disguised princes and princesses,<br />

death by drowning and grief, oracles,<br />

betrayal, but unexpectedly ends in joy.<br />

Free: Donations gladly accepted. Picnics<br />

welcome, light concessions available for<br />

purchase. Performance begins at 8pm.<br />

facebook.com/capefearshakespeareotg<br />

Weekly Fireworks by the<br />

Sea & Boardwalk Blast<br />

<strong>May</strong> 27 & <strong>June</strong> 2, 9, 16, 23<br />

Pleasure Island Summers 'officially'<br />

begin with the weekly fireworks display<br />

the Friday before Memorial Day and<br />

then continue every Thursday evening<br />

until the final fireworks show the Friday<br />

before Labor Day. The best place to view<br />

this Thursday spectacular show is on<br />

the beach strand located in front of the<br />

historic Carolina Beach Boardwalk, where live music plays at the Gazebo stage.<br />

A new permanent 95-foot tall Ferris wheel is being installed along the boardwalk so<br />

there is a lot of fun for the family in store. The music usually starts at 6:30pm followed<br />

by the fireworks at 9pm. carolinabeach.org<br />

16 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

7-11 pm, August 27, <strong>2022</strong><br />


at Modern Aviation<br />

1817 Aviation Drive<br />

Live music by Sleeping Booty<br />

Cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres<br />

Silent and Live Auction<br />

Tickets go on sale on <strong>May</strong> 27th.<br />

Visit WhitePants.org for more information.<br />

Proceeds support Lower Cape Fear LifeCare services, including charity care,<br />

dementia care, grief services, and other programs not covered by insurance.<br />

This year, we are also proud to commit a large portion of proceeds to our<br />

We Honor Veterans Program. For more information, visit LifeCare.org.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 17

Never Compromising Fresh<br />

Ingredients or Amazing Service<br />

Voted Best Breakfast!<br />


served ALL DAY, EVERY DAY<br />

of <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

6722 Wrightsville Ave, <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

910-256-7030<br />

Open Daily 7am – 3pm<br />

Thanks for Voting us<br />

Best Authentic<br />

Mexican!<br />

Committed to bringing<br />

you a dining experience<br />

full of flavor!<br />

5607 Carolina Beach Road, <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

910-399-1643 • tequilacc.com<br />

Cape Fear Highland Games<br />

benefiting paws4vets ®<br />

<strong>May</strong> 14<br />

The Scottish Society of <strong>Wilmington</strong> is hosting some<br />

traditional Scottish entertainment at the Cape Fear<br />

Highland Games. Watch titans clash in traditional<br />

heavyweight events such as flipping telephone<br />

poles in the “Turning the Caber” and throwing<br />

hay over a 20-foot bar for the “Tossing the Sheaf”<br />

contest. Witness feats of strength, marvel at heavy<br />

athletics, thrill to the music of pipe bands, enjoy<br />

watching the beauty of traditional dancing and join<br />

the celebration of clans and societies, and families.<br />

Games will be at 3400 Randall Parkway, behind the<br />

IRS building. wilmingtonscots.org<br />

Event Calendar<br />

Looking to fill your social calendar? We've got the<br />

rundown on what to do this spring season.<br />


Boogie in the Park Concert Series<br />

1st & 3rd Sundays, <strong>May</strong> to October<br />

Bring your beach chair or blanket and<br />

enjoy free, live music by the sea! No<br />

concert July 4th or Labor Day weekends.<br />

From 5–7pm. townofkurebeach.org<br />

Free Summer Movies at the Lake<br />

Sundays, <strong>May</strong> 29 to August 28<br />

Grab your kids, blankets and beach<br />

chairs and head to Carolina Beach Lake<br />

Park to enjoy a free Outdoor movie on a<br />

'gigantic' screen. Movies start at dusk.<br />

Bring your chairs and find a spot on the<br />

lawn where the whole family can enjoy<br />

this true summertime treat for adults<br />

and kids alike. carolinabeach.org<br />

HDWM Artisan Market<br />

Sundays through October<br />

Spend your Sunday leisurely strolling<br />

through the Historic Downtown<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> Artisan Market where you'll<br />

find handcrafted creations by the area's<br />

local artisans. At Front & Dock Streets,<br />

10am–3pm.<br />

Fourth Wednesday Bird Walk<br />

Monthly on the 4th Wednesday<br />

Explore Carolina Beach State Park on<br />

a guided bird walk lead by park staff<br />

along Snows Cut Trail. No previous<br />

experience is necessary. Beginning<br />

at the Marina, the easy hike will be<br />

approximately two miles long over flat<br />

terrain lasting approximately two hours.<br />

Be sure to bring your own sunscreen,<br />

binoculars, drinking water, and insect<br />

repellent. Free, from 8–10am. ncparks.<br />

gov/carolina-beach-state-park<br />

The Butterfly House Releases at<br />

Airlie Gardens<br />

Weekly on Tuesdays,<br />

<strong>June</strong> 7 to September 6<br />

Surround yourself in serenity by visiting<br />

Airlie’s Butterfly House, open daily, with<br />

butterfly releases on Tuesdays weekly. The<br />

flittering butterflies, all native to North<br />

Carolina, are inside this open-air structure.<br />

Find species like: Monarch, Gulf Fritillary,<br />

Common Buckeye, Black Swallowtail,<br />

Tiger Swallowtail (NC State Butterfly) and<br />

many more. airliegardens.org<br />

Turtle Talks at Wrightsville Beach<br />

Weekly on Tuesdays,<br />

<strong>June</strong> 7 to August 30<br />

Learn about sea turtle nesting from the<br />

Wrightsville Beach Sea Turtle Project.<br />

Find out details about the threatened<br />

and endangered sea turtles nesting and<br />

hatching season on Wrightsville Beach<br />

(<strong>May</strong> until October) and what to do in the<br />

case of a turtle sighting. These weekly<br />

talks are inside the air-conditioned Fred<br />

and Alice Stanback Coastal Education<br />

Center. Free, 7–8pm. wbstp.org<br />

Turtle Talk<br />

Mondays, <strong>June</strong> 13 to August 29<br />

Sit in on an engaging educational<br />

discussion about local nesting sea turtles<br />

hosted by the Pleasure Island Sea Turtle<br />

18 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

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<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 19

Project. From 7–8 pm. townofkurebeach.org<br />



Greenfield Lake Amphitheater<br />

livenation.com/greenfield-lakeamphitheater-events<br />

Historic Thalian Hall<br />

thalianhall.org<br />

Live Oak Bank Pavilion<br />

at Riverfront Park<br />

concerts.livenation.com<br />

Wilson Center at CFCC<br />

wilsoncentertickets.com<br />


Fire! Exhibit at Cape Fear Museum<br />

<strong>May</strong> 6 - November 26<br />

Explore a dynamic exhibition that uses<br />

images, artifacts, videos and interactive<br />

experiences to explore the history and<br />

science of fire. Learn the science of fire and<br />

how it spreads, as well as fire safety through<br />

family-friendly interactive adventures like<br />

how to plan for fires, call for help, and the<br />

best way to respond in a fire emergency.<br />

capefearmuseum.com<br />

Night Tour at the Burgwin-Wright<br />

House and Gardens<br />

<strong>May</strong> 5, 6 and <strong>June</strong> 3<br />

Come experience a rare glimpse into<br />

Colonial nightlife at the Historic Burgwin-<br />

Wright House. Guided by interpreters<br />

will reveal the rituals and superstitions of<br />

bygone times - a life without electricity and<br />

modern conveniences. Space is limited, so<br />

advance registration by phone is required.<br />

$14. bwhg.memberclicks.net<br />

Astronomy Program<br />

<strong>May</strong> 7 and <strong>June</strong> 4<br />

Join the fun at the Carolina Beach State<br />

Park Visitor Center. The Cape Fear<br />

Astronomy Society will have telescopes set<br />

up for viewing the night sky, planets, stars<br />

and lots of other things. Program will begin<br />

around sunset and conclude 15 minutes<br />

before the park closes. Free, ncparks.gov/<br />

carolina-beach-state-park<br />

Art in the Harbor Way Gardens<br />

<strong>May</strong> 7, 8<br />

Visit the beautiful Art in the Harbor Way<br />

Gardens (321 Causeway Dr, W.B.) on<br />

20 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 21

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Mother's Day Weekend. Stroll through the<br />

gardens admiring the roses in full bloom,<br />

and observe regional fine artists paint on<br />

Saturday, <strong>May</strong> 7th as part of The Wrightsville<br />

Invitational Paint Out with Plein Air. Art<br />

available for purchase on Sunday, <strong>May</strong> 8th.<br />

harborislandgardenclub.com<br />

Cape Fear Disabled Sportsman<br />

Fishing Tournament<br />

<strong>May</strong> 13<br />

Got-Em-On Live Bait Club provides a<br />

day of fishing, food and fun for those with<br />

disabilities on the Kure Beach Fishing<br />

Pier. With hundreds of participants<br />

annually, and an exciting awards ceremony<br />

at the end of the event, this is a fishing<br />

favorite. 910-612-3407 to Pre-Register<br />

with Luanne LeBlanc.<br />

Family Farm Day<br />

<strong>May</strong> 14<br />

Oink, bah, moo, neigh, the Children's<br />

Museum of <strong>Wilmington</strong> presents Family<br />

Farm Day! This is a chance for kids to get up<br />

close and personal with some of their favorite<br />

barnyard animals. There will be pony rides<br />

and a place to enjoy milk and cookies at story<br />

time, face painting and more. From 9am to<br />

Noon, free with admission or membership.<br />

playwilmington.org/farm<br />

Wrightsville Beach Spearfishing<br />

Tournament<br />

<strong>May</strong> 19 - 21<br />

Regional scuba and free divers (diving<br />

without an oxygen tank) gather to match<br />

spearfishing prowess on the battlefield<br />

of the Atlantic Ocean. Three days of<br />

underwater hunting are measured with<br />

daily weigh-ins and the champions are<br />

crowned at the awards celebration.<br />

Join in for a weekend of sportsmanship<br />

on the high seas. Free for spectators.<br />

facebook.com/WBSpearfishing/<br />

Cinema Sister's International<br />

Film Festival<br />

<strong>May</strong> 20 - 22<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> Female Filmmakers Collective<br />

(WilmFFilm) presents the annual Cinema<br />

Sister's International Film Festival<br />

formerly the Chick Flicks Film Festival.<br />

This laid-back festival focuses on films and<br />

videos of any genre made by women with<br />

past submissions coming from Spain, Italy,<br />

Russia, the UK, Canada, Vietnam, France,<br />

Turkey and across the USA. csiffilm.com<br />

22 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 23

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Seaside Soccer Classic<br />

<strong>May</strong> 21-22<br />

Enjoy the annual Seaside Soccer Classic<br />

featuring over 300 of some of the best soccer<br />

teams. This unrestricted tournament is<br />

open to USYS/Affiliate State Associations<br />

that play Challenge, Select, Classic and<br />

Premier Boys U10-U19 league play, and<br />

USYS/Affiliate State Associations that<br />

play Challenge, Select, Classic and Premier<br />

Girls U10-U15 league play, as well as US<br />

Club teams. It will be held at various fields<br />

throughout New Hanover County. Free<br />

for spectators, hosted by the <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

Hammerheads Youth FC.<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> Sharks Baseball<br />

From <strong>May</strong> 24 to July 29<br />

The <strong>Wilmington</strong> Sharks, former Coastal<br />

Plain East League Champions, are back<br />

this season and ready to get their next<br />

Championship title. Bring the whole family<br />

to enjoy watching The Sharks battle topnotch<br />

college players from all areas of the<br />

United States. wilmingtonsharks.com<br />

Orange Street ArtsFest<br />

<strong>May</strong> 28 - 29<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong>'s largest downtown arts<br />

festival returns with works of more than<br />

90 artists. Participants will exhibit oil<br />

and watercolor paintings, pottery, jewelry,<br />

wood, glass, and paper creations. The<br />

Orange Street Arts Fest is both relaxing<br />

and exhilarating with live entertainment,<br />

old-fashioned fair food, and wine and beer.<br />

wilmingtoncommunityarts.org<br />

Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament<br />

<strong>June</strong> 1 - 4<br />

Welcoming fishermen, participants, and<br />

spectators for a weekend of fishing fun<br />

as well as an opportunity to promote<br />

conservation of valuable marine resources,<br />

the Cape Fear Blue Marlin Tournament is<br />

a catch and release tournament that<br />

recognizes and awards the best North<br />

Carolina tournament boats and anglers.<br />

Free for spectators, capefearbluemarlin.com<br />

Carolina Beach Music Festival<br />

<strong>June</strong> 4<br />

Hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber<br />

of Commerce, the Carolina Beach Music<br />

Festival is billed as “the biggest and only<br />

beach music festival actually held on the<br />

beach on the North Carolina coast” and<br />

one of the longest running beach music<br />

festivals in the United States. Headliners<br />

24 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

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Port City Music Festival<br />

<strong>June</strong> 5, 6, 9, 10, 12<br />

This week-long classical concert series<br />

is committed to making the experience<br />

of great music accessible to everyone.<br />

Nationally and internationally known<br />

guest artists will join local musicians<br />

at various locations around <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

performing some of the best loved classical<br />

works. portcitymusicfestival.org<br />

Airlie Gardens Summer Concert Series<br />

<strong>June</strong> 3 & 17<br />

This annual open-lawn early evening<br />

casual concert series allows dining and<br />

dancing surrounded by Airlie Gardens'<br />

majestic beauty. This family-friendly event<br />

usually offers food and beverage for sale,<br />

or permits you to bring your own. So bring<br />

your picnic baskets, chairs or blankets, and<br />

enjoy an evening outdoors as lively toetapping<br />

music fills the air. Advance online<br />

tickets only: adults are $10, children (4-12)<br />

are $3, and children under 4 are free. Gates<br />

open at 5pm. airliegardens.org<br />

Oakdale Cemetery History<br />

Walking Tour<br />

<strong>June</strong> 18<br />

Enjoy a fascinating historical walking tour<br />

of North Carolina’s oldest rural cemetery<br />

given by local historian Hunter Ingram.<br />

Hunter recently created the popular<br />

Burgwin-Wright Presents and started the<br />

Cape Fear Unearthed Podcasts. $10, from<br />

10am to Noon. oakdalecemetery.org<br />

Celebrate the NORTH CAROLINA<br />

Legacy<br />

<strong>June</strong> 24-25<br />

Celebrate the ships named NORTH<br />

CAROLINA! They have been serving our<br />

country from the 1824 ship-of-the-line to the<br />

fast attack submarine currently stationed<br />

in Hawaii. From the Mediterranean to<br />

the Atlantic to the Pacific, our state’s<br />

namesakes have traveled the globe. Come<br />

enjoy a major display of Civil War, WWI and<br />

submarine arms, clothing, and equipment<br />

from enthusiastic costumed collectors and<br />

submarine veterans. From 9am–4pm,<br />

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26 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com



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<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 27

The Ties that Bind<br />

Biographies with a North Carolina connection<br />


Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall<br />

of an American Dynasty<br />

Read Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of<br />

an American Dynasty and step into<br />

The Gilded Age. If you are like me,<br />

you have visited Biltmore Estate in<br />

Asheville, North Carolina. Calling<br />

Biltmore a mansion just doesn’t do<br />

it justice. Perhaps many of you have<br />

watched the new program on HBO,<br />

The Gilded Age. That kind of wealth<br />

and extravagance might give you an<br />

idea of the kind of life that George<br />

Vanderbilt, the son of Cornelius Vanderbilt who built Biltmore,<br />

and his family experienced at Biltmore.<br />

Anderson Cooper, better known as the award-winning host of<br />

his news program on CNN, wrote Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of<br />

an American Dynasty, from an inside perspective, you might say.<br />

Cooper is the great-great-great grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt,<br />

who built the Vanderbilt fortune. Gloria Vanderbilt, the fashion<br />

designer and heiress, was his mother. Cooper chronicles the<br />

Vanderbilt dynasty, the riches, the mansions, the art, and he also<br />

covers the demise, right up to the present day. Cooper has always<br />

been wary of being known as a Vanderbilt, wanting to make his<br />

own way, which he has certainly done. But he pays homage to his<br />

ancestors, while also being critical of amassing so much wealth<br />

and spending the fortune so wastefully. Katherine Howe joined<br />

Cooper in writing Vanderbilt.<br />

Breaking Through:<br />

John B. McLendon,<br />

Basketball Legend and<br />

Civil Rights Pioneer<br />

John McLendon is one of the best college<br />

basketball coaches ever, and he coached<br />

right here in North Carolina.<br />

McLendon was the basketball coach<br />

at North Carolina Central University in<br />

Durham in the 1940s and early 1950s,<br />

which included a game against Duke<br />

University in 1944. This game was held in<br />

secrecy, because North Carolina Central<br />

fielded an all-black team and Duke had an all-white team. It was<br />

the very first such game during a time of strict segregation. After<br />

leaving Durham, McLendon became the first college coach to win<br />

three consecutive national titles at Tennessee State. In 1968,<br />

McLendon became the first black coach on an Olympic team,<br />

and he was the first black man to be head coach of a professional<br />

basketball team.<br />

All of this and much more is in Breaking Through: John B.<br />

McLendon, Basketball Legend and Civil Rights Pioneer, written by<br />

Milton S. Katz. Published in 2010, this older biography celebrates<br />

a life to remember. Katz writes about McLendon as one of the<br />

first black students at the University of Kansas, where McLendon<br />

actually was taught basketball by the man who invented the game,<br />

James Naismith. Breaking Through is about breaking barriers<br />

and the dignity of a man who attained amazing success while<br />

showing the way for thousands.<br />

The Carl Sandburg Home:<br />

Connemara<br />

Carl Sandburg won three Pulitzer Prizes,<br />

two for poetry and one for biography. His<br />

talent was a rare combination of being a<br />

great poet and a great prose writer. We<br />

claim Sandburg as a North Carolinian<br />

because he moved to our state in 1945 and<br />

lived in the mountains until he passed<br />

away in 1967.<br />

Sandburg moved his family to Flat Rock<br />

to live in a big house on top of a ridge called<br />

Connemara. On that mountain Sandburg wrote books and poetry,<br />

while his wife, Lilian, raised prize-winning Chikaming goats.<br />

When Sandburg moved to Connemara, he brought along 21 tons<br />

of books. He wrote his Complete Poems in his upstairs office that<br />

won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize. Sandburg spent much time playing<br />

his guitar and singing folk songs. He was truly a multi-faceted<br />

man. When on tours across the nation, Sandburg would read from<br />

his Abraham Lincoln book which also won a Pulitzer, then read a<br />

few of his poems, then take out his guitar and sing to the packed<br />

audiences, who sat enthralled.<br />

The many talents of Sandburg and the story of his wondrous<br />

mountain house are in The Carl Sandburg Home: Connemara by<br />

Galen Ruether. Like Biltmore Estate, Connemara is open to the<br />

public, and this remarkable biography first published in 2006 will<br />

prompt you to go. There are over 150 pictures, and each chapter<br />

is preceded by a written introduction. Even though much of the<br />

book includes pictures of the house and of life on the farm, Ruether<br />

chronicles Sandburg from his early life and his middle-aged years<br />

before the Sandburg family moved to Flat Rock. W<br />

28 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

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<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 29

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30 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

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© <strong>2022</strong> Brightmore of <strong>Wilmington</strong>

An outdoor movement<br />

class at Brightmore.<br />


campus in midtown <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

near shopping, medical and<br />

cultural centers, Brightmore of<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> is the savvy choice of seniors<br />

planning for active living in retirement. Its<br />

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array of services and amenities are the top<br />

reasons that the state’s growing 65-and-older<br />

population are attracted to Brightmore.<br />

“We encompass all components of a<br />

healthy and vibrant lifestyle,” says Lisa<br />

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Known for its opening and welcoming<br />

atmosphere, Brightmore has an elegant<br />

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the front lobby for the first time. The<br />

luxurious apartment homes have many<br />

amenities, and the services and programs<br />

of Brightmore are outstanding.<br />

A full social calendar is planned each<br />

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programs. Parties and events are held on<br />

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meaningful experiences and relationships<br />

on campus among its residents, it also<br />

shares sponsorships for culture and the<br />

arts throughout the greater <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

area. Residents volunteer at local hospitals,<br />

participate in charity walks, and attend<br />

educational programs off-campus.<br />

Brightmore is managed by Liberty<br />

Healthcare, an experienced family-owned<br />

business in the healthcare profession for more<br />

than 125 years. When new residents move<br />

into a Liberty community, their Wellness<br />

Directors meet with them for a personal<br />

assessment and to recommend a fitness<br />

program that is enjoyable and beneficial.<br />

Active Living<br />

in Retirement<br />

Exploring options at Brightmore of <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

A popular component in the wellness<br />

program is Ageless Grace, a class that<br />

combines physical exercise with brain<br />

stimulation. Other wellness activities<br />

include arthritis aquatics, water aerobics,<br />

aquatic tai chi, land-based tai chi, balance,<br />

yoga, and strength training.<br />

All apartments come with full kitchens,<br />

laundry facilities, and state-of-the-art<br />

emergency call systems. Storage units, if<br />

needed, are also available. At Brightmore,<br />

136 private apartments provide independent<br />

living for residents who choose that level of<br />

care. Amenities include all utilities, scheduled<br />

transportation, weekly housekeeping, 24-<br />

hour security and maintenance, and one<br />

meal a day (with an optional second meal) in<br />

the restaurant-style dining room.<br />

Other onsite amenities include a private<br />

dining room, beauty salon, billiards room,<br />

card and media rooms, heated pool, cardio<br />

workout rooms with multiple equipment<br />

and exercise machines, library, sunrooms,<br />

and parlor/pub. Outdoor amenities include a<br />

pergola, outdoor seating with firepit, putting<br />

green, bocce ball court, shuffleboard,<br />

walking paths, and garden area.<br />

In addition to independent living,<br />

Brightmore has two communities for higher<br />

levels of care. Assisted living is available<br />

in The Kempton, which has 66 private<br />

apartments. The highest level is personal<br />

and memory care that is provided in The<br />

Commons, which recently completed a halfmillion-dollar<br />

renovation. It has spacious<br />

private and companion studios and suites<br />


Late afternoon around<br />

the firepit.<br />

Brightmore<br />

has a centrally<br />

located campus.<br />

senior living<br />

as well as deluxe suites. When someone<br />

becomes a Brightmore resident, they are a<br />

priority for receiving higher levels of care<br />

when needed in these two communities.<br />

Brightmore has won many awards for its<br />

fitness and wellness program as well as for<br />

being a preferred retirement community in<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong>. Its recent renovations have<br />

preserved its stately elegance as it continues<br />

to provide a strong sense of engagement<br />

and camaraderie within its community.<br />

Brightmore of <strong>Wilmington</strong>, 2324 41st St.,<br />

910-507-7384.brightmoreofwilmington.com W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 31

art seen<br />

Keeping the Alyona Amato Dance<br />

studio accessible was a priority<br />

during Covid where the dancer/<br />

choreographer teaches all ages,<br />

levels and body shapes, and is<br />

all about empowering people to<br />

explore their love of dance.<br />

Born to Dance<br />

An international dancer finds her rhythm and follows her passion to the Port City<br />

By KIM HENRY<br />


in life isn’t so much<br />

as calling to you, but<br />

shouting loud and clear,<br />

you have no choice but<br />

to listen and follow. This is exactly how<br />

it was for dancer/choreographer/studio<br />

owner Alyona Amato, who knew from<br />

a young age that she wanted, needed<br />

and was born to move. Despite certain<br />

obstacles, Amato has now been adding<br />

her authentic, thought-provoking and<br />

profoundly beautiful dance classes, and<br />

choreography to the thriving <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

art scene since 2011.<br />

Although her connection to dance was<br />

very clear from a young age, Amato’s<br />

mother insisted that she take piano lessons<br />

instead. “I liked music but I saved up all<br />

my money and when I turned 16, I went to<br />

my first dance class and never left,” smiles<br />

Amato, with the assurance of one who has<br />

created her own path. As any dancer will<br />

attest, beginning training at 16 can feel<br />

like you’re late to the party. Using this to<br />

motivate herself even more deeply, Amato<br />

spent every summer taking ballet and<br />

modern intensives and investing in as<br />

many private lessons as she could fund.<br />

“I always felt behind and that I<br />

needed to catch up,” shares Amato, who<br />

interestingly, now runs a dance studio<br />

that does not engage in competitions,<br />

and promotes dance for all shapes and<br />

sizes as a joyful, and even healing art<br />

form. However, she did not escape the<br />

pressure of the dance world as a young<br />

woman born in Siberia, Russia. Investing<br />

everything into dance, Amato was soon a<br />

member of a company called 5 Questions.<br />

They worked intensely until one day, the<br />

teacher disbanded the company leaving<br />

the members bereft.<br />

“We had to keep dancing so I said, come<br />

on, we will be our own company,” smiles<br />

32 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

also been selected and performed outside<br />

of <strong>Wilmington</strong> in Orlando, Asheville,<br />

Charlotte and Detroit. Well, until<br />

Covid hit.<br />

As with the entire art world, Covid<br />

brought live performance to an abrupt<br />

stand still. Ever prolific, Amato offered<br />

Zoom classes to her students and began<br />

to collaborate with film makers. Keeping<br />

the Alyona Amato Dance studio accessible<br />

was a priority during such an intense time<br />

of isolation and for Amato, nurturing her<br />

dance community is important. Amato<br />

teaches all ages and levels, and is all<br />

about people feeling empowered to explore<br />

their love of dance regardless of ability,<br />

body size or the idea that ‘they’re too old.’<br />

“My favorite is to teach beginner adults.<br />

I feel like I can relate to them as I was 16<br />

and wanted to dance and was told that’s<br />

‘old’ for a dancer. I love seeing my adults<br />

open up, learn, and follow their dream.<br />

Alyona Amato has pioneered an admirable<br />

and often entrepreneurial path to pursue<br />

her career in dance and choreography.<br />


Amato. At the time she was running her<br />

own snowboarding business and had<br />

developed some business and management<br />

skills, which she then channeled into<br />

the dance company. In addition, having<br />

dedicated herself to learning many<br />

different styles, Amato had lots of material<br />

to share with the rest of the company, and<br />

became its leader.<br />

Endless hours of practice and<br />

innovative choreography later, the new<br />

company was being invited to perform<br />

in Moscow, and then in Europe. In 2011<br />

Amato was invited to the United States<br />

as a choreographer. This was a turning<br />

point for the dancer who has lived in<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> ever since. Hitting the<br />

ground running, Amato quickly became<br />

involved in the area’s dance scene, opened<br />

her own studio, founded her own company<br />

and has performed at every Cucalorus and<br />

N.C. Dance Festival since. Her work has<br />

914 S. Kerr Ave., <strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC<br />

910.791.2222 • atlanticappliance.net<br />

Mon-Fri 9am-5pm & Sat 10am-2pm<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 33

Amato’s dance<br />

company, The<br />

Village, explores<br />

a wide range of<br />

emotionally fueled<br />

themes, standing<br />

by the idea that<br />

art can open up<br />

difficult but vital<br />

conversations.<br />

“I can’t imagine myself not<br />

moving. It’s my connection<br />

with the world and I want<br />

others who feel the same<br />

way, to experience this.”<br />

—Alyona Amato<br />

5018 Oleander Dr. • <strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC<br />

shopofseagate.com • 910-791-6622<br />


It’s inspiring,” says Amato, who is also<br />

a mother to two boys. “I can’t imagine<br />

myself not moving. It’s my connection<br />

with the world and I want others who<br />

feel the same way, to experience this, no<br />

matter what they’ve been told as a child.”<br />

Finding her dance tribe here in<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> took time but has been<br />

a deeply fulfilling journey. The<br />

five members of her own company,<br />

The Village, explore a wide range<br />

of emotionally fueled themes and<br />

controversial topics, standing by the<br />

idea that art transforms and opens up<br />

difficult but vital conversations. Within<br />

her own company, she encourages the<br />

individuality of each dancer and strives<br />

to honor their unique way of moving.<br />

This principle lays the foundation for<br />

her style of choreography, which draws<br />

on authentic movement, contact improv<br />

and the Gaga technique. This is focused<br />

on dancers listening to the rhythm of<br />

their bodies, and allowing this to direct<br />

The Village performing in collaboration<br />

with filmmaker Erika Edwards at the<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> Dance Festival in 2017.<br />

their movement, rather than a more<br />

cerebral approach.<br />

Taking this to the extreme, Amato held<br />

her second ‘dance-for-12-hours-nonstop’<br />

experiment in November 2021. “One of<br />

my dance partners and I danced together<br />

with no music, and no talking for 12 hours<br />

non-stop, staying connected to each other<br />

the entire time. It was pretty challenging<br />

but beautiful, pushing the body to move<br />

in ways far beyond what the mind says<br />

to do.” Thriving within this space of<br />

authenticity is an accurate reflection of<br />

all that makes this compelling dancer<br />

so unique. Everyone’s body can unravel<br />

and begin to move and tell stories,<br />

and this is what you will find at the<br />

heart of Amato’s soul-searching work.<br />

facebook.com/alyonaamato/ W<br />

34 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

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<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 35

money matters<br />

The <strong>Wilmington</strong> office<br />

of CAPTRUST is one of<br />

75 locations.<br />

Building Financial Foundations<br />

for Community Trust<br />

Comprehensive wealth planning that embraces saving, investing, and goals for retirement<br />



advisors have earned the<br />

trust of individuals, business<br />

owners, and families for the<br />

comprehensive wealth management<br />

services that they provide. The benefits for<br />

their clients are the knowledge, experience,<br />

and judgment they need to make effective<br />

financial decisions.<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> is one of 75 locations where<br />

CAPTRUST maintains a local presence<br />

with the strength of a national firm.<br />

As of December 31, 2021, CAPTRUST<br />

has $98 billion of client assets under its<br />

management, and the value of all client<br />

assets under its advisement is $620 billion.<br />

Each client is served by an advisor who is<br />

a fiduciary, operating in an unfettered and<br />

objective manner.<br />

The firm’s size allows them to have<br />

resources in-house that most firms simply<br />

don’t have. This includes professional<br />

financial planning, client service, and<br />

investment research teams to advise both<br />

individuals and institutions.<br />

Individual investors need comprehensive<br />

wealth planning, risk management, and<br />

investment services tailored to their<br />

risk profiles and goals. The decades of<br />

experience that CAPTRUST has serving<br />

as advisors to pensions, endowments, and<br />

foundations provide valuable insights that<br />

are applied to their clients’ financial needs.<br />

Because CAPTRUST serves its clients as<br />

fiduciaries, it is legally bound to put client<br />

interests ahead of its own.<br />


36 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

CAPTRUST guides individuals as<br />

they move through various career stages<br />

from early to middle to late and helps<br />

them develop an approach that embraces<br />

planning, saving, investing, and retiring.<br />

Planning looks at the current financial<br />

picture and how it can change. Saving<br />

creates small steps to move closer to<br />

financial goals. Investing gives advice so<br />

clients can be confident decision-makers.<br />

Finally, retiring still requires that<br />

progress is evaluated and plans are<br />

updated as needed. For retirement<br />

planning, CAPTRUST provides financial<br />

advice and investment strategies designed<br />

to help clients achieve their post-career<br />

income and lifestyle objectives. Its team<br />

of experienced financial advisors provide<br />

advice and answer questions about how<br />

much you need to save for your retirement,<br />

how to invest your money, and how to<br />

access your retirement savings.<br />

CAPTRUST also helps families by giving<br />

them assistance with philanthropic planning<br />

related to entity selection, governance,<br />

passive/active giving, and strategic<br />

prioritization. Families can benefit from<br />

governance planning to develop investment<br />

and multi-generational strategies that<br />

include education, distribution planning,<br />

and long-term trustee solutions.<br />

Executives and business owners also<br />

need help in managing their complex<br />

financial lives with all the competing<br />

demands on their time. In addition, they<br />

often need help addressing the challenges<br />

of maximizing corporate benefits, planning<br />

stock option exercise, and managing single<br />

stock risk.<br />

The largest registered investment advisor<br />

in the U.S., CAPTRUST offers a broad range<br />

of services to institutional clients, including<br />

corporate and higher-education retirement<br />

plans, foundations and endowments, and<br />

religious organizations.<br />

Solutions for institutions include<br />

investment advisory and fiduciary<br />

services. For example, endowments and<br />

foundations need to leverage expert<br />

resources to address their investment,<br />

spending, governance, and donor<br />

development challenges. Retirement plan<br />

sponsors need investment management<br />

and discretionary services for 401(k),<br />

403(b), defined benefit, and nonqualified<br />

deferred compensation plans.<br />

CAPTRUST also helps religious<br />

organizations balance faith and finance<br />

to meet their organizations’ goals. As the<br />

market leader working with religious<br />

institutions, CAPTRUST has developed<br />

services to address the special demands<br />

of institutions such as church-affiliated<br />

endowments, foundations, healthcare<br />

providers, and education institutions.<br />

Guiding the <strong>Wilmington</strong>-based advisors<br />

in how they serve clients and embrace their<br />

local community are CAPTRUST’s five<br />

core values.<br />

Accountability: Individually, and as<br />

a company, they accept responsibility for<br />

their actions. They embrace their role as<br />

trusted advisors and understand their<br />

obligation to be vigilant stewards of all<br />

that is entrusted to them.<br />

Integrity: They conduct themselves with<br />

honesty and fairness at all times and in all<br />

circumstances. They do what is right —<br />

even when it is difficult or out of fashion.<br />

Respect: All individuals are worthy and<br />

valuable. All points of view deserve thought<br />

and consideration. They acknowledge<br />

everyone’s right to dignity and use courtesy,<br />

civility, and deference in their interactions.<br />

Collaboration: All individuals<br />

associated with CAPTRUST make<br />

worthwhile contributions to their success.<br />

They cooperate with one another, share<br />

information, solicit ideas and opinions, and<br />

appreciate everyone’s engagement.<br />

Community: CAPTRUST has a profound<br />

responsibility to share its success. They<br />

contribute time, money, and energy to their<br />

communities and to assist those in need,<br />

particularly underprivileged children.<br />

With a multidisciplinary team of<br />

professionals, CAPTRUST can help<br />

every client make well-informed wealth<br />

planning decisions. They serve the<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> area by enriching the<br />

lives of their clients, colleagues, and<br />

communities through sound financial<br />

advice, integrity, and a commitment to<br />

service beyond expectation.<br />

CAPTRUST, 1209 Culbreth Dr., Suite<br />

100, <strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC, 910-256-8882.<br />

captrust.com/locations/wilmington-nc/ W<br />

They conduct on-site<br />

client meetings and<br />

live web events.<br />

Their office is located<br />

near the intersection<br />

of Military Cutoff and<br />

Eastwood Rd.<br />

With a multidisciplinary<br />

team of professionals,<br />

CAPTRUST can help clients<br />

make well-informed wealth<br />

planning decisions.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 37

newsmaker<br />

A bedroom vignette in<br />

Big Sky Design’s shop<br />

and studio at Bradley<br />

Creek Commons.<br />

Celebrating 25 Years,<br />

the “Big Sky” is the Limit<br />

Innovation and vision in both residential and commercial interior design<br />

is behind this firm’s silver anniversary<br />



Bureau of Labor Statistics,<br />

a whopping 70 percent of<br />

small businesses will not<br />

be around to celebrate their<br />

10th birthday. So for <strong>Wilmington</strong>-based<br />

Big Sky Design Inc., to be observing their<br />

25th year in business in <strong>2022</strong> is truly<br />

something to celebrate.<br />

Listening to Founder and President<br />

Jennifer Kraner, there’s no secret formula<br />

to the interior design company’s enduring<br />

success: It’s just love what you do.<br />

“After graduating from Wake Forest<br />

University with a degree in art philosophy,<br />

I worked in art galleries in New York and<br />

D.C. and realized I liked the interface<br />

between people and art. A gallery owner’s<br />

husband suggested I consider interior<br />

design,” Kraner says.<br />

So it was back to school for Kraner, and<br />

armed with her M.S. in interior design,<br />

she and her husband — both self-professed<br />

water spirits — moved to <strong>Wilmington</strong>.<br />

She initially worked at local architectural<br />

firms, which gave her the opportunity to<br />

work directly with clients and learn about<br />

the design process.<br />

“Working with architectural firms was<br />

great. I got a lot of experience about how<br />

projects work,” says Kraner.<br />

With her employer unable to justify<br />

a full-time interior design position,<br />

38 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

The President<br />

and Founder of<br />

Big Sky Design,<br />

Jennifer Kraner.<br />

Colorful vignettes<br />

throughout the store<br />

are inspired by different<br />

parts of the world.<br />

Designer Stephanie<br />

Radack recently<br />

completed<br />

renovations to the<br />

bridal suite at The<br />

Terraces on Sir Tyler.<br />


Their brick-and-mortar<br />

store opened in 2020.<br />

Kraner decided it was time to go out<br />

on her own, and Big Sky was born. The<br />

relationships she had already established<br />

while working with local firms paved the<br />

way for her to grow, and soon she hired<br />

a designer “and another and another and<br />

another,” Kraner explains.<br />

Five years into it, Big Sky began to<br />

offer residential design. Kraner saw an<br />

opportunity to not just expand the work<br />

that she relished doing, but to sustain the<br />

business model as well.<br />

“I love every kind of project. Both<br />

commercial and residential are so much<br />

fun. And I think having the two have<br />

helped us weather storms like recessions,”<br />

A commercial project, the<br />

newly refurbished ballroom<br />

at The Terraces on Sir Tyler.<br />

Kraner says.<br />

Beyond the artistic aspect of the work,<br />

Kraner believes her minor in philosophy<br />

helped her develop an idea-driven, visuallybased<br />

methodology that’s proven successful<br />

when working with clients. It’s also sparked<br />

her and her team to invent unique ways of<br />

growing the business.<br />

Before their brick-and-mortar space<br />

opened in 2020, Kraner would take Bea, a<br />

mobile design boutique fashioned out of a<br />

1969 camper, on the road. (Now she’s used<br />

mostly for parties and events.)<br />

The recently rolled-out Private Dine and<br />

Design service turns a design meeting<br />

into something like a first date, without<br />

the awkwardness.<br />

“Our very first dine-and-design was<br />

spectacular! With no one else in the shop,<br />

we served the potential clients dinner and<br />

drinks and after a power session with<br />

three designers, we had a really terrific<br />

scheme put together. It’s a very fun way to<br />

do interior design,” Kraner says.<br />

The shop and retail studio, located on<br />

Oleander Drive in Bradley Creek Station,<br />

is inspiring. But plan to leave <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

as you enter the shop; distinctive vignettes<br />

take you far away to Fiji, Peru and Tuscany,<br />

just to name a few. Hurry though because<br />

vignettes rotate the globe throughout<br />

the year. With online shopping available<br />

through their website and so much to<br />

choose from, their popular gift guides<br />

make it easy to shop for the gardener, wine<br />

enthusiast or animal lover in your life.<br />

So what do the next 25 years hold for Big<br />

Sky Design?<br />

“I see Big Sky Design continuing<br />

to be a source of inspiration for our<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> community. Whether this is<br />

through completed restaurants, offices,<br />

full custom homes, stunning kitchens,<br />

pampered powder rooms — or through our<br />

shop’s open door to amazing furnishings,<br />

lighting and décor; we love being the<br />

spark for creativity!” declares Kraner.<br />

bigskydesignonline.com W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 39

Empowering<br />

Students Both In<br />

and After School<br />

Across New Hanover, Pender and Duplin County,<br />

Communities In Schools is connecting students<br />

to programs and resources<br />

By LORI WILSON » Photos by G. FRANK HART<br />

Executive Director<br />

Louise Hicks stands<br />

with Marrio Jeter,<br />

the organization’s<br />

Director of<br />

Operations, in<br />

front of its youth<br />

center, WIRE, on<br />

Orange Street.<br />


building at the corner of 11th and<br />

Orange Streets, big things happen.<br />

Here, Communities In Schools<br />

(CIS) of Cape Fear executes just<br />

one of their many programs in the name<br />

of their mission: empowering students<br />

to stay in school and achieve in life.<br />

Executive Director Louise Hicks has been<br />

on the frontlines of CIS since 2005, while<br />

it gradually grew from an organization<br />

with only three staff and one building, to<br />

a tri-county nonprofit with a budget of $3.5<br />

million and 56 employees.<br />

The bright brick facility on Orange Street,<br />

better known as WIRE – <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

Youth Center for Inspiration, Recreation,<br />

and Education – supports the needs of<br />

disenfranchised youth through after-school<br />

programming. Offering STEM-based<br />

activities and tutoring, WIRE students are<br />

given a chance to improve their math and<br />

literacy skills.<br />

“We want every kid to know someone has<br />

their back,” Hicks explains.<br />

Hicks joined Communities In Schools<br />

17 years ago, as a part-time director, after<br />

leaving her position in marketing at the<br />

Children’s Museum of <strong>Wilmington</strong>.<br />

“I wanted a chance to impact all the<br />

kids,” Hicks says, “and to reach more of the<br />

students who need support.”<br />

CIS believes that all students deserve<br />

five basic principles: a relationship with<br />

a caring adult, a safe place to learn, a<br />

healthy start, a marketable skill, and a<br />

chance to give back. To achieve this, Hicks<br />

says, the “heart of their mission” relies on<br />

student support specialists, who provide<br />

services to youth in need, such as those at<br />

risk of dropping out.<br />

Within 21 schools across New Hanover,<br />

Pender, and Duplin County, CIS has<br />

placed Specialists who connect students<br />

to programs and resources that address<br />

mental health, academic achievement,<br />

mentoring, and more. The organization<br />

just added five more schools in January<br />

and strives to expand this list as long as<br />

needs exist.<br />

“We are really tracking our intentions,”<br />

Hicks says, “to understand why the child<br />

was referred to us . . . The range of needs<br />

is huge.”<br />

40 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Louise Hicks has been on the<br />

frontlines of CIS since 2005,<br />

growing it from three staff and<br />

one building to a tri-county<br />

nonprofit with a budget of $3.5<br />

million and 56 employees.<br />

Louise Hicks<br />

» Hometown: Born in England,<br />

and moved to the U.S. at age 10<br />

» Education: Graduated from<br />

UNC Greensboro: Non-Profit<br />

Management Certificate from<br />

The University of Georgia;<br />

Executive Leadership<br />

Development at NYU’s Robert<br />

F. Wagner’s School of Public<br />

Service.<br />

» Family: Husband Kevin, three<br />

sons, and two dogs.<br />

» Hobbies: Gardening, cooking,<br />

reading, enjoying a glass of<br />

wine with friends.<br />

» Fun Fact: Living in a house<br />

full of uber-protective rugby<br />

players in college would one<br />

day prepare her to be the only<br />

female in her own home.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 41

An outdoor paint session<br />

in Pender county.<br />

Classwork assistance.<br />

in our community “on the front end” in<br />

order to save “on the back end” – that is,<br />

connecting with youth through efforts such<br />

as drop-out prevention as a way to stave off<br />

undesirable outcomes.<br />

“Louise found me at my other job, and we<br />

got to talking and she said, ‘I’m going to<br />

hire you to work for me,’” Jeter explains.<br />

The rest, they may say, is history. In<br />

many significant ways this duo fights<br />

for the future of the local community,<br />

especially those who are marginalized.<br />

“We are really tracking our<br />

intentions, to understand why<br />

the child was referred to us.”<br />

— Louise Hicks<br />

Students at New Hanover<br />

High School share a laugh.<br />

Like many nonprofits in the area, Hicks<br />

and her team are no stranger to pivoting.<br />

They have supported their community<br />

during the toughest of times these past<br />

few years, from Hurricane Florence to the<br />

height of the Covid pandemic.<br />

“We never closed our doors,” Hicks says<br />

proudly. “We offered remote learning labs<br />

to our students. When fewer students were<br />

in the classrooms, more kids were in our<br />

rooms.”<br />

And their commitment has not gone<br />

unnoticed. The Cape Fear chapter of<br />

the Communities In Schools (a national<br />

nonprofit) is one of 40 affiliates who received<br />

a generous donation from philanthropist<br />

billionaire Mackenzie Scott. They were<br />

gifted $1.5 million.<br />

“It turns out I’ve done a good job to<br />

support our people,” Hicks says modestly.<br />

In addition to in-school and after-school<br />

assistance, CIS offers a summer program<br />

called Freedom School, a six-week literacy<br />

and cultural enrichment program that<br />

provides participants with one new book<br />

a week (to expand their library), while<br />

empowering them to make a difference in<br />

themselves and their community, big and<br />

small. Freedom School launched in large<br />

part to the efforts of Marrio Jeter, the<br />

Director of Operations, who has been with<br />

the organization for about a decade.<br />

Jeter made the career switch to education<br />

after eight years working in probation<br />

parole for the Department of Corrections.<br />

Hicks met Jeter in 2007.<br />

The two are like-minded and understand<br />

the value of investing time and money<br />

“Education remains critical and<br />

important as the achievement gap for<br />

people of color gets wider and wider,” Jeter<br />

explains.<br />

In considering drop-out prevention, CIS<br />

provides not just educational support, but<br />

support for learning basic life skills and<br />

technical skills. Other programs include<br />

Teen Court, a diversion program using<br />

restorative justice for low-level juvenile<br />

offenders; the Baby Steps Program, a<br />

young parent support group that helps<br />

new and expecting parents aged 21 and<br />

younger; a literacy support program for<br />

3rd graders; and 21st Century Community<br />

Learning Centers.<br />

CIS of Cape Fear works to ensure all<br />

students achieve their goals in school, yet<br />

Hicks and Jeter also hope CIS participants<br />

understand the impact they can make as<br />

young people, even on a global perspective.<br />

“It’s our five-year plan to do more of what<br />

we do – to deepen, sustain, and grow,”<br />

Hicks says, her eye on the future for CIS.<br />

ciscapefear.org W<br />

42 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

garden home getaway fashion<br />

Alex Munroe, owner<br />

of Cape Fear Winery &<br />

Distillery, stands with<br />

his small batch rum,<br />

gin, bourbon, vodka<br />

and whiskey.<br />

A “Day-cation” to<br />

Elizabethtown’s<br />

Winery and<br />

Distillery<br />

With its own restaurant, luxury lodging<br />

and newly opened spa, this nearby<br />

destination is beckoning you to visit<br />

See page 48<br />


<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 43

garden<br />

Where the Goldfish Swirl<br />

The sights, sounds and sheer pleasure of a backyard pond<br />

Story and Photos by CHRISTINE HALL<br />

Frolicking koi fish enjoy<br />

making merry in a<br />

backyard pond.<br />


stillness of morning, our small,<br />

backyard pond beckons me<br />

to walk to where the goldfish<br />

swirl. I love to sit near the water’s edge,<br />

coffee in hand, to take in the sights and<br />

sounds. In the evenings, the croak of a<br />

frog or trill of a cricket will draw me back.<br />

The reflections in the moonlight dance as I<br />

unwind, quieting my thoughts.<br />

Our garden pond has proven to be a<br />

leading feature in our backyard. It acts as a<br />

natural focal point where we can entertain,<br />

play, and rest. And it introduces a powerful<br />

mix of mood and movement that I have<br />

found unmatched on dry land.<br />

Digging In<br />

Our pond was built with our own hands<br />

and began as a project request from our<br />

nature-loving daughters. They had strong<br />

interest in building an aquatic habitat to<br />

attract frogs, snails, and other wildlife<br />

they encountered in the yard. Loving to<br />

spend time outdoors myself and imagining<br />

a Monet-inspired water garden complete<br />

with running water and floating lilies,<br />

I had surprised them that day with a<br />

resounding “Yes!”<br />

I remember the excavation and building<br />

Post-excavation, smoothing<br />

the dirt bottom with the<br />

company of the family dog.<br />

process well – particularly the role our<br />

dogs played in the disruption of the dirt<br />

piles. With a rather full garden already,<br />

we had difficulty choosing a suitable space.<br />

Ultimately, an 8’x6’ area in front of our<br />

foundation shrubs, near a crepe myrtle for<br />

shade, and not too far from our backdoor,<br />

was deemed prefect.<br />

It was not long into our digging<br />

endeavors before we realized we needed to<br />

do some more research. Was our liner large<br />

enough? How much space should we leave<br />

around the edges? Which ground medium<br />

was going to work best?<br />

After a quick trip to a local aquatic<br />

nursery, we were back on track and able to<br />

implement a few tweaks to our plan. One<br />

of the most important things we learned<br />

44 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Layering shoreline<br />

plants creates an<br />

aquatic paradise.<br />

A waterfall descent is a<br />

dramatic pond feature.<br />

The goldfish<br />

shimmer through<br />

the water’s depth.<br />

in the process was to first determine your<br />

goals and plan from there. An inground<br />

pond can be a rewarding addition to your<br />

garden, but the success of any feature<br />

relies on the amount of forethought you put<br />

into it. For our family, in the course of a<br />

weekend, our daughters had the complete<br />

mini pond of their dreams. During our<br />

adventure, however, we learned a few key<br />

elements to a successful project.<br />

A treefrog rests<br />

atop a waterlily.<br />

Rookie Mistakes:<br />

Positioning under a tree.<br />

While having a canopy of shade for fish or<br />

wildlife sounds appealing, the build-up of<br />

decomposing leaves can harm your pond<br />

and fish. Choose instead to place your<br />

water feature near a tree or natural area<br />

of shade, but not in a place where leaves<br />

will continuously fall. The most important<br />

factor is to choose a site that gets shade in<br />

the afternoon, so that the water does not<br />

become too overheated.<br />

Not leaving enough workspace.<br />

For close enjoyment, monitoring, and<br />

cleaning you will want any pumps and<br />

filters to be easily accessible, which includes<br />

around the perimeter of the pond. If rocks<br />

or plantings become too obtrusive you will<br />

not be able to reach certain areas without<br />

trampling plants or climbing through<br />

rocks. A 2-feet-wide walking area is ideal.<br />

Wasting a fertilizing source<br />

Pond water can be a great fertilizing source<br />

in your garden so use it to your advantage.<br />

If you need to pump any water or transfer<br />

any out of the pond for cleaning, be sure<br />

to dump some in your flower gardens or<br />

shrubs for the beneficial bacteria.<br />

Combining koi with water plants.<br />

In their natural environment, koi love<br />

digging in mineral-rich clay for food.<br />

When gardeners place sunken potted<br />

plants or plant baskets in their ponds,<br />

koi often uproot the plant, causing it to<br />

float to the top where they will eat the<br />

leaves. Goldfish do not have this same<br />

tendency. Most aquatic plants also need<br />

sun, whereas koi enjoy some shade due to<br />

being subject to sunburn.<br />

Worrying about the water bill.<br />

For anyone concerned about the amount<br />

of water a pond may require, consider<br />

this perspective: Watering flower gardens<br />

often takes more water per square foot<br />

than a water garden or pond. And that<br />

same space in a water garden has sound,<br />

movement, and life, and is exponentially<br />

more sensory positive.<br />

For expert help locally with your aquatic<br />

gardening adventures, contact Cape Fear<br />

Water Gardens at 910-200-6053 or Lloyds<br />

of Landscape, Inc at 910-686-4984. W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 45

home<br />

Perfecting the Scene<br />

Connecting interior design to the people who live inside<br />

A<br />


designer will treat the<br />

fundamentals of your<br />

home – the bones, the<br />

blueprint, the view, the<br />

nonnegotiable pieces like your mother’s rug<br />

— as the setting for a scene. They’re able<br />

to take what’s already there and elevate<br />

the surroundings into something so unique<br />

and expressive that it reflects the life you<br />

lead and aspire to.<br />

This philosophy is embraced by the team<br />

By VERA WILSON » Photos by G. FRANK HART<br />

Bistro chairs pull up to<br />

the expansive kitchen<br />

island accented with<br />

pendant lighting.<br />

at Paysage Home and Interior Design. In<br />

fact, the French word ‘paysage’ means, in<br />

artistic terms, landscape or scene.<br />

Gigi Sireyjol-Horsley is lead interior<br />

designer and owner of the two Paysage<br />

retail boutiques. The <strong>Wilmington</strong> location<br />

has been an anchor of the Lumina Station<br />

community for almost 20 years, while the<br />

Raleigh location opened in 2018.<br />

At the <strong>Wilmington</strong> boutique, there’s<br />

an eclectic and exciting variety of objets<br />

d’art and paintings, each hand-picked by<br />

Sireyjol-Horsley who, with her mother,<br />

used to stroll through antique stores and<br />

markets in Morocco, Sireyjol-Horsley’s<br />

birthplace, and France, where she spent<br />

many formative years. With no formal<br />

interior design training, Sireyjol-Horsley<br />

credits her mother with teaching her the<br />

art of design.<br />

“I definitely got the training from my<br />

mother. It was the training of aesthetic and<br />

that’s not something you’ll learn in school,<br />

necessarily,” Sireyjol-Horsley says.<br />

A vital part of the design process is the<br />

ability to capture what the clients want,<br />

even when they may not be able to define it<br />

themselves. Interestingly, Sireyjol-Horsley<br />

believes she honed these skills during her<br />

time working in the world of finance.<br />

“As a financial advisor, I was listening to<br />

people, getting to know the most intimate<br />

parts of their life,” she says. “You want to<br />

get close to try to read between the lines,<br />

to get to things they don’t even know how<br />

to express. Design is so very similar. I met<br />

with a client last week, and by taking time<br />

and more time to talk to her, I found out<br />

she loved weaving and she loved colors.”<br />

Armed with that information, Sireyjol-<br />

Horsley was able to create a design plan.<br />

“And when I made the presentation to<br />

her today, she said ‘How did you know<br />

exactly what I wanted?’” Sireyjol-Horsley<br />

says with a laugh.<br />

A move to <strong>Wilmington</strong> in 2009 allowed<br />

her the opportunity to work at the store<br />

she now owns. She learned the business<br />

from the ground up, starting as a parttime<br />

employee, and knew early on, this was<br />

where she belonged.<br />

“I fell in love with the business<br />

completely and gave more and more to it.<br />

Being surrounded by wonderful clients,<br />

wonderful things to sell, good people to<br />

work with — it was the best of everything,”<br />

Sireyjol-Horsley says.<br />

Customers noticed the more personal<br />

touch, accentuated by Sireyjol-Horsley’s<br />

quest for exceptionality in the products<br />

she offers.<br />

“I like to be exclusive,” she explains. “I’m<br />

always interested in what’s unique and not<br />

easily found.”<br />

Sireyjol-Horsley curates from all over<br />

the world.<br />

“I like to work with Europe a lot. I still<br />

46 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

A pedestal table<br />

anchors the useful<br />

space at the base of<br />

the stairwell.<br />

Vibrant paintings,<br />

colorful accent<br />

pillows and a<br />

textured area rug<br />

add warmth to<br />

the open and airy<br />

living room.<br />

French handwaxed<br />

wallpaper and a<br />

contemporary mirror<br />

set the tone for this<br />

pretty bathroom.<br />

have a lot of contacts in France, obviously.<br />

A lot of my accessories come from there,”<br />

she explains.<br />

To be sure, her French influence is<br />

palpable and part of what she dubs “the new<br />

classic,” a fusion of new and antique pieces.<br />

Her newsletters and social media posts<br />

teach interested readers about French<br />

culture, like highlighting the similarities<br />

of Bastille Day and the 4th of July.<br />

In addition to interior<br />

design, Paysage assists<br />

with art and accessories.<br />

Sireyjol-Horsley’s French influence is palpable and part of what<br />

she dubs “the new classic,” a fusion of new and antique pieces.<br />

But sourcing regionally is also important<br />

to Sireyjol-Horsley, and that’s made easy<br />

due to the quality of products she finds<br />

right at her doorstep. A recent trip to High<br />

Point likely means furniture purchases<br />

for the store and her clients “because<br />

North Carolina is the best state for that,”<br />

she says. Work by local artisans, such as<br />

a piece made from shells with striking<br />

copper undertones, are popular as gifts<br />

and ornamental features.<br />

Sireyjol-Horsley doesn’t shy away from<br />

trends — wallpaper and a fandelier, a fan<br />

in the style of a chandelier, currently adorn<br />

the <strong>Wilmington</strong> shop. However, she’s sure<br />

not to repeat the same thing over and over<br />

from one house to another. Instead her goal<br />

is to “pull the client’s personality out” of<br />

every piece.<br />

Sireyjol-Horsley christens her clients<br />

“family,” describing with pride how<br />

they recently stepped up and answered<br />

the call when Paysage sponsored a<br />

fundraiser to help fund short-term<br />

housing for Ukrainian refugees. Thanks<br />

to matching contributions from Paysage<br />

and Airbnb, they were able to raise an<br />

impressive $54,000.<br />

“We love what we sell and we love our<br />

clients,” she says. “We were here at the<br />

store last night working. The day was over<br />

and we said we should probably rush home.<br />

But it’s home here.”<br />

The featured photos are from a design<br />

project for a couple who moved from<br />

Chapel Hill and were seeking help to blend<br />

their treasured furnishings into their<br />

new house.<br />

"When we built our home, I knew the<br />

overall feel, but I did not know how to put<br />

it together. After a pleasant and productive<br />

conversation with the Paysage team, all of<br />

a sudden, the old married the new, and the<br />

unexpected became functional," describes<br />

Susanna and Stedman Stevens.<br />

Sireyjol-Horsley’s ability to listen may be<br />

the most important design principle of all.<br />

Located in Lumina Station, paysage.com. W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 47

getaway<br />

The Vines Day Spa is<br />

the newest addition to<br />

this nearby destination.<br />

A Nearby Spa-cation<br />

with Spirits<br />

Cape Fear Winery & Distillery entices you to relax and linger<br />



“day-cation” away from<br />

the coast but still wanting<br />

to enjoy the culture and<br />

vibrations of the Cape Fear<br />

Region? Elizabethtown’s delightful winery<br />

and distillery are beckoning you to visit.<br />

Upon your arrival, a visitor quickly learns<br />

that it has more than estate wine and<br />

premium spirits.<br />

A complete destination with its own<br />

restaurant, gift shop and luxury lodging<br />

arrangements in delightful cottages, it<br />

is also a preferred wedding and special<br />

event venue. The winery and distillery are<br />

often the reasons for first-time guests to<br />

visit, while the restaurant, lodging, venue<br />

space, and gift shop keep them returning,<br />

particularly for special occasions.<br />

And with its recent Vines Day Spa<br />

opening, there is another reason to make<br />

the easy drive west. Alex Munroe, owner,<br />

shares that some of the spa treatments<br />

will have a spirited twist. “The facials<br />

will feature some of our own rum and<br />

bourbon,” Munroe says with a smile.<br />

The Cork Room Restaurant, open from<br />

Wednesday through Sunday, offers a special<br />

dining experience with an eclectic and<br />

acclaimed menu that features beef, poultry,<br />

pork, and seafood as well as harvest<br />

vegetables. “All of our menu choices are<br />

paired with our wines, and they are used in<br />

our recipes, too,” Munroe says.<br />

Wines are produced to linger on the<br />

palate and accent the flavors of every<br />

dish. Signature wines include I, Swanee,<br />

a sweet white muscadine, and Tiger<br />

Swallowtail. Signature reds include<br />

Tory Hole, The Cardinal, and Cape Fear<br />

Reserve. Tastings are offered until 5 p.m.<br />

in The Cork Room (and after 5 p.m. based<br />

on staff availability).<br />

The creative chefs source the local<br />

harvest for vegetables, meats, and seafood<br />

choices. By offering farm-to-table dining,<br />

The Cork Room brings the freshest and<br />

tastiest quality to every meal.<br />

As you dine in The Cork Room, you are<br />

embraced by an artistic splash of works<br />

by Picasso, Salvador Dali, Matisse, Ron<br />

Wood, Ringo Starr, Dr. Suess, Jonathan<br />

Winters, Eric Clapton, and more. In<br />

addition, outdoor dining is available on<br />

the large, covered porch or on the patio by<br />

a cascading waterfall and firepit.<br />

Luxurious lodging is available<br />

in individual cottages.<br />

The award-winning Cape Fear brand of<br />

the distillery, located on the same grounds<br />

as the winery, represents coastal N.C.<br />

quality, lore, and tradition. Small-batch<br />

rum and gin are produced alongside Frying<br />

Pans Shoals Bourbon, GameFish Vodka,<br />

48 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

The Tipsy Toad Gallery<br />

is currently featuring<br />

wildlife artist Steve<br />

Goione among its wine,<br />

spirits and gift items.<br />

Twelve themed<br />

cottages overlook<br />

Vineyard Lake.<br />

The vibrant Cork Room<br />

Restaurant offers farmto-table<br />

dining.<br />

The gallery<br />

ballroom holds<br />

up to 250.<br />

and Solera Whiskey to round out the five<br />

spirits it makes. Distillery tours, reserved<br />

in advance, include tastings of each spirit<br />

and a souvenir distillery shot glass.<br />

Want more than a “day-cation”? The 12<br />

themed cottages that overlook Vineyard<br />

Lake are situated on 11 acres of perfectly<br />

landscaped grounds, and offer superb<br />

overnight accommodations including<br />

luxurious bridal suites, family and<br />

work-friendly executive suites, and wellappointed<br />

classic rooms.<br />

Weddings, corporate events, holiday<br />

parties, and special social activities<br />

deserve a scenic location and special<br />

ambiance. Party facilities include the<br />

Gallery Ballroom (which hosts up to 250),<br />

the Landing (up to 240), Porchside Pergola<br />

(up to 30), the Lily Pad (up to 30), and the<br />

Peanuts Gallery (up to 15).<br />

Make it a summer to remember by<br />

getting tickets now to the Diamond Rio<br />

Show on <strong>June</strong> 25 with special guests<br />

Bryan <strong>May</strong>er and 87 & Pine. Tickets<br />

begin at $29, and gates open at 6:30 p.m.<br />

Stay tuned for other events being planned<br />

for the <strong>2022</strong> concert lineup.<br />

Before you leave, visit the Tipsy Toad<br />

Gallery, which is open daily and features<br />

Cape Fear wines and spirits for sale in<br />

addition to fine art, jewelry and unique<br />

gifts. Steve Goione, an international<br />

wildlife gamefish artist, works on his<br />

masterpieces at the gallery where his<br />

marine life art is exhibited.<br />

“We’re only 50 minutes from the<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> bridge, so we’re a great<br />

getaway,” says Munroe.<br />

195 Vineyard Dr., Elizabethtown, NC,<br />

910-846-3386. capefearwinery.com W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 49

Walking the Riverwalk in<br />

dresses from AidyRose (left)<br />

worn by Mallory Cooper, and<br />

Island Passage (right) worn by<br />

Noelle Agnew.<br />



Fashion Coordinator: ABIGAIL WHITEHURST<br />

50 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Dress It<br />

Up!<br />

Eye-catching looks to don in<br />

the coming summer season<br />

There are a lot of celebrations and<br />

occasions to dress up for in <strong>May</strong><br />

and <strong>June</strong> – a Mother’s Day lunch, a<br />

graduation ceremony, a getaway over<br />

Memorial Day weekend, a friend’s<br />

wedding in <strong>June</strong>, a fun night out with<br />

Dad for Father’s Day, and more. There<br />

also may be the impulse to gussy up<br />

just because the local landscapes are in<br />

bloom so why not feel pretty when you<br />

are out and about? From a stroll along<br />

the Riverwalk downtown to dinner at a<br />

waterfront restaurant at the beach, the<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> area has the retail to help<br />

you dress it up!<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 51

Island Passage<br />

islandpassageclothing.com<br />

Real Love Maxi-Meadow<br />

Dress, $168; Stone Wing<br />

Earring, $18; necklace, $16;<br />

Dolce Vita Posy shoes, $120;<br />

Society Amuse bag, $78.<br />

52 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Ziabird<br />

ziabird.com<br />

Phale dress, $414; Boro<br />

green amethyst ring,<br />

$342; Mela silver pearl<br />

necklace, $275.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 53

Lula Balou<br />

lulabalou.com<br />

Valentina dress, $118;<br />

gold earrings, $34;<br />

shoes, $64.<br />

54 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Aidyrose (located inside<br />

Blue Moon Gift Shops)<br />

aidyrose.com<br />

Lina Kinsley dress, $58;<br />

Pearl-studded handbag;<br />

Floral Hoop Earrings, $32;<br />

bead choker necklace, $20;<br />

Beaded Daisy Cuff, $24.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 55

ZIA Boutique<br />

shopziaboutique.com<br />

Selene Bustier Dress,<br />

$252; Leven dress slide,<br />

$170; abstract flower<br />

studs, $28.<br />

56 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

CoolSweats at the Beach<br />

coolsweatsatthebeach.com<br />

Stark X Charcoal Midi Dress,<br />

$151; Sea Lily Mother of<br />

Pearl necklace, $48.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 57

Design Assistance<br />

as You Feather<br />

Your Nest<br />

Nest combines retail home furnishings<br />

with decorating assistance<br />


(clockwise from above) An upholstered chair<br />

with bold fabric in just the right color can<br />

add style to a room; A pair of eye-catching<br />

lamps and artwork with coastal themes are<br />

just some of the accessories available at Nest;<br />

An orchid embellishes a bookshelf.<br />


its 11-year anniversary, Nest<br />

Fine Gifts & Interiors offers<br />

an alternative to those who may<br />

not need or want to pay an hourly rate to<br />

a design firm.<br />

Owner Monika Williams said the<br />

4,000-square-foot shop includes a large<br />

design center with two interior designers<br />

on staff to help customers, whether they<br />

just need some complimentary guidance<br />

while shopping or require a professional<br />

to come out to their homes to design a<br />

plan. Nest also has a Raleigh location that<br />

opened three years ago.<br />

“We really do all size projects, from<br />

whole house to small areas,” Williams<br />

says. “It all starts with a conversation.”<br />

After getting a good idea of the scope of<br />

the project, a designer will ask about the<br />

client’s budget as well the plan for how<br />

each space will be used.<br />

“It’s all about how much time people<br />

spend, how the priority is ranked,” says<br />

58 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Williams. “Depending on how they live<br />

in their surroundings and what their<br />

budget is, the designers are really good<br />

about sizing up what to do first. They’re<br />

just working to do what the client wants,<br />

and their inspiration is going to come from<br />

seeing their style and talking about what<br />

they want.”<br />

For larger Nest projects that involve<br />

designers putting together a plan, the cost<br />

of that plan is returned in credits to the<br />

customer when they purchase items from<br />

Nest, Williams explains.<br />

“We can grab pieces right away,” she<br />

says, describing the process. “We do sell<br />

everything off the floor, and we can order<br />

from other vendors.”<br />

While modern coastal homes are typical<br />

candidates for Nest’s services, residences<br />

all over Southeastern North Carolina<br />

have turned to the business for decorating<br />

assistance, Williams shares.<br />

“We’ve helped a lot of clients who had<br />

older, established homes in town that were<br />

just trying to update them a little bit,” she<br />

said. “They’re just trying make it more<br />

transitional, not the darker antiques and<br />

things. A lot of times it’s just a gradual<br />

switchout of a few pieces in a room to<br />

make it not as traditional.”<br />

Satisfied customers are the ultimate<br />

reward for Nest employees, Williams shares.<br />

“We like to beautify spaces,” she said.<br />

“It’s very rewarding to see everything<br />

come together. Just knowing that the<br />

client is happy is all we need.”<br />

Nest Fine Gifts & Interiors is located at<br />

1125 Military Cutoff Road, <strong>Wilmington</strong>,<br />

910-256-6378. nestfinegifts.com W<br />

Layering touches on a<br />

tabletop add interest<br />

to a living space.<br />

Ideas for setting<br />

a summery table.<br />

A seating arrangement<br />

designed for conversation.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 59

Artéé is an 8,000-squarefoot<br />

store filled with fabric<br />

and furnishing ideas.<br />

Refresh Your Home<br />

with Fabric<br />

Furniture, art, lamps and<br />

accessories may be bought<br />

directly off the sales floor.<br />

From window treatments to furnishings,<br />

Artéé offers design solutions with fabric<br />



location for over a decade,<br />

Artéé Fabrics & Home is a<br />

local resource to add special<br />

touches to a living space with fabrics and<br />

trim, furniture, accessories and more.<br />

“If you can put fabric on it, we do it –<br />

everything from slipcovers, upholstery,<br />

bedding, window treatments, cushions,<br />

pillows, most anything,” says Manager<br />

Pam Battson, who has been working at the<br />

8,000-square-foot store since November.<br />

“And we have a dedicated workroom<br />

that does all of our work for us. We also<br />

have ready-made draperies as well as<br />

furniture, art, lamps and accessories that<br />

you can buy off the sales floor, so it’s not<br />

solely custom pieces. It’s a mix, or you can<br />

just buy fabric.”<br />

Battson has a bachelor’s degree<br />

60 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

A dedicated workroom at<br />

Artéé makes everything<br />

from window treatments<br />

and bedding to upholstery,<br />

cushions and pillows.<br />

in interior design, so she can offer<br />

complimentary in-store guidance to<br />

Artéé customers.<br />

“There’s no obligation whatsoever,” she<br />

says. “I’m happy to give advice if asked,<br />

but if they want to shop on their own that’s<br />

fine with me, too. It’s here if they need it.”<br />

Battson says she enjoys seeing<br />

homes that have a diverse collection of<br />

coordinating items rather than pieces that<br />

perfectly match.<br />

“Your space should feel like it’s been<br />

naturally accumulated, that you didn’t<br />

go out and buy the set and pillows all<br />

together,” she says. “I think it gives you a<br />

richer, more interesting room for you and<br />

for people who visit your home.”<br />

The biggest design mistake many people<br />

make is choosing large pieces – such as<br />

sofas, chairs and ottomans – in daring<br />

colors and patterns, Battson explains.<br />

“Keep those as neutral as possible<br />

because you can always change the look<br />

with accessories,” she says. “Once you<br />

have a big pink-and-red floral sofa, you’re<br />

stuck. If you keep<br />

your big investment<br />

pieces more neutral,<br />

then you can jazz it<br />

up with pillows and<br />

rugs and then it’s<br />

not as expensive to<br />

change the look. It<br />

doesn’t have to be<br />

boring but keeps it<br />

more versatile.”<br />

While coastal tones<br />

are always popular<br />

in this area, many<br />

people are beginning<br />

to embrace brighter<br />

colors for their décor.<br />

Battson encourages<br />

Colorful rows of fabric<br />

choices create many<br />

design possibilities.<br />

her customers to<br />

pay less attention<br />

to trends and focus more on personal<br />

preference.<br />

“If you like it, it’s in style,” Battson<br />

says encouragingly. “Don’t worry about<br />

what others are doing. We’ve got tons<br />

of different options, no matter what<br />

your taste.”<br />

Artéé Fabrics & Home is located<br />

at 7016-B Market St., <strong>Wilmington</strong>,<br />

910-686-2950. arteefabricsandhome.com W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 61

Abundant seating in the open<br />

and airy living room features<br />

comfy white furniture with blue<br />

accents from pillows to the tile<br />

around the fireplace.<br />

In-store Inspiration with<br />

a Guiding Hand<br />

Creating a modern, coastal and relaxed style with ease and collaboration<br />

By JUDY ROYAL » Photos by G. FRANK HART<br />


couple recently sold<br />

their <strong>Wilmington</strong> home<br />

along with all of its<br />

furnishings and built a<br />

new residence in Wrightsville Beach, they<br />

were ready to start fresh and didn’t need<br />

to look far for inspiration. In fact, almost<br />

everything they wanted was at Sugarwood<br />

Interiors, owned by Janece Stone.<br />

“They loved the look of the store,”<br />

says Megan Strimbu, who works retail<br />

at Sugarwood and also offers her own<br />

interior design services to customers. “It’s<br />

very modern and coastal and relaxed, so<br />

they definitely wanted their home to look<br />

like Sugarwood.”<br />

Strimbu explains she helped these clients<br />

select all their furnishings, as well as paint<br />

colors. They wanted to source their entire<br />

home from local businesses, including<br />

artwork, she says.<br />

The project took about a year;<br />

construction of the home was completed<br />

in December, but a few pieces are still<br />

trickling in for finishing touches, Strimbu<br />

says. Soaring demand coupled with supplychain<br />

issues caused delays, including a<br />

dresser for the master bedroom that took<br />

almost a year to arrive.<br />

All of the challenges were worth the<br />

effort required to give these clients exactly<br />

what they wanted, Strimbu adds.<br />

62 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

(clockwise from above) Sugarwood can help<br />

select furnishings such as this dresser paired<br />

with a stunning mirror; This light-filled<br />

dining area features a mix of rattan and<br />

fabric-covered chairs; A palette of gray, blue<br />

and white create a peaceful aura in<br />

this bedroom.<br />

“They are very happy,” she says. “It’s<br />

bright and airy and just makes the house<br />

look bigger and brighter. They’re happy<br />

clients, which makes me very happy.”<br />

Anyone looking to furnish a new house<br />

should get started as soon as the project<br />

breaks ground, and the first thing they<br />

should order is upholstery, Strimbu says.<br />

“I would just say that it’s going to take<br />

longer than you think and will require<br />

a lot of patience,” she says. “There are<br />

a lot of choices out there, so if you have<br />

someone help you narrow the choices<br />

down it’s going to be a lot easier process.<br />

It gets so overwhelming with all the<br />

selections out there.”<br />

Enlisting the assistance of a professional<br />

is always a good idea to consider,<br />

Strimbu adds.<br />

“Designers know what’s tried and true,”<br />

she says. “It’s an investment, but it’s<br />

definitely worth it.”<br />

Recent trends that will likely stick<br />

around for a while include adding texture<br />

to your home with natural elements such<br />

as grasscloth, linen and other natural<br />

fibers, Strimbu explains.<br />

“Different kinds of texture make it look<br />

all put together and make it feel more<br />

elevated,” she says. “It looks nice and the<br />

design has more depth.”<br />

Sugarwood Interiors is located at<br />

167 Porters Neck Road, <strong>Wilmington</strong>,<br />

910-319-7779. sugarwoodnc.com W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 63

The design team at Custom<br />

Home Staging & Design was<br />

asked to create a light and airy<br />

look throughout the house as<br />

seen in this bedroom.<br />

A Comfortable Approach<br />

to Interior Design<br />

Blending and complementing the new with the old and treasured<br />



always start with a completely fresh<br />

slate. Sometimes they are called<br />

upon to blend and complement<br />

what’s already there.<br />

“Most design firms work with a blank<br />

canvas, but we understand that most<br />

clients aren’t starting from scratch,”<br />

says Katie O’Neal, lead interior designer<br />

at Custom Home Staging & Design. “We<br />

don’t believe you should have to get rid<br />

of every single thing you own to have a<br />

beautiful space.”<br />

In February 2021 O’Neal began<br />

working on a home in Landfall on Oak<br />

Creek Place, and her task was to help the<br />

homeowners complete their new residence<br />

after starting with another designer.<br />

“The initial site visit revealed that we’d<br />

be working with a blend of the client’s<br />

existing pieces along with the previous<br />

designer’s selections,” she says. “They<br />

essentially needed a designer to assist<br />

with pulling it all together, creating a<br />

light, airy and coastal look.”<br />

O’Neal made selections for the project<br />

at sister stores Custom Home Furniture<br />

Galleries and niche. by Custom Home, as<br />

well as local vendors in the <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

area. Items for this project included<br />

furniture, rugs, artwork, lamps, bedding<br />

and other décor. In October 2021, once all<br />

items had arrived, O’Neal and her team<br />

64 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

A lamp and a<br />

peaceful painting<br />

help accessorize the<br />

tranquil ambience.<br />

A pair of glass coffee<br />

tables are the perfect<br />

combination with the<br />

white sofa accented with<br />

soft blue pillows. The<br />

mirror reflects more light<br />

in the room.<br />

A grouping of<br />

accessories contained<br />

in a wicker basket.<br />

installed the project in one day. Assisting<br />

her was designer Jessica Mignola and lead<br />

installer Charlie Osis.<br />

“This project exceeded even my own<br />

expectations,” she says. “I was thrilled<br />

with the end product, even more so<br />

because of the homeowner’s reaction. She<br />

was brought to tears on install day, seeing<br />

her home finally complete. This couple<br />

trusted the process, were patient with<br />

supply-chain delays and in doing so they<br />

ended up with their dream home.”<br />

O’Neal says a popular misconception<br />

about interior designers is that they are<br />

just for the wealthy. Custom Home Staging<br />

& Design prides itself in offering a livable<br />

and attainable approach to design.<br />

“With so many people moving to this<br />

area, it’s nice to know there’s a place to<br />

help people achieve the look with any<br />

range of budget,” she explains.<br />

O’Neal says she’s noticed many clients<br />

are becoming bolder and moving away<br />

from traditional white color palettes to<br />

brighten up their homes.<br />

“I’m seeing color again, and that’s<br />

exciting,” she says. “I’m hoping that people<br />

start to get a little braver and not be afraid<br />

of color anymore.”<br />

Custom Home Staging &<br />

Design is located at 3514 College<br />

Road, <strong>Wilmington</strong>, 910-399-4017.<br />

customhomestaginganddesign.com W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 65

Lunching<br />

like aLocal<br />

Where to find the best midday munchies<br />


A craft burger with<br />

sautéed onions and<br />

perfectly melted cheese<br />

can more than satisfy a<br />

lunch craving.<br />

66 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com


Both the Pilot House and<br />

Elijah’s are steps away<br />

from the Riverwalk in<br />

downtown <strong>Wilmington</strong>.<br />


that many rely on reheated leftovers at lunchtime. And while there’s nothing wrong with brown-bagging it, we<br />

could all use a little motivation to renew our passion for those noontime nibbles once again. So if the idea of<br />

perking up your lunch hour is music to your ears (and belly), you’ve landed on the right page. From beautifully<br />

bitter beer cheese-drenched fries to Parisian-inspired tuna tartare with capers, <strong>Wilmington</strong> is a melting pot<br />

of glorious midday goodies. Here’s where to turn when that hunger pang strikes.<br />


910-509-0331, loveysmarket.com<br />

Start by sifting through Lovey’s premium beauty products and<br />

supplements, then make your way to the café’s hot and cold bars<br />

to create a marvelous mishmash that fits your taste buds like a<br />

glove. This independently-owned natural foods store perpetually<br />

keeps a vibrant collection of cold salads (like the ever-popular, ohso-garlicky<br />

spinach Caesar) and hot items on deck — all suited<br />

to special dietary needs like gluten-free, vegan, and beyond. If<br />

buffet-style isn’t your jam, scope out the deli’s delicious, made-toorder<br />

menu or hit the prepared foods case for stellar grab-and-go<br />

tidbits like the best tuna salad wrap you’ll ever have. For those<br />

on a liquid diet, Lovey’s juice bar offers smoothies and healthy<br />

fresh-pressed refreshments.<br />


910-343-0200, pilothouserest.com<br />

Coastal comfort food with a Lowcountry flair is the name of the<br />

game at this downtown legend. Since 1978, Pilot House has been<br />

enchanting locals and tourists with their versatile cuisine spiked<br />

with Cajun flavor. Every dish has a down-home feel which matches<br />

the historic ambience of the dining room. Planted smack dab on<br />

the riverwalk, Pilot House’s people-watching patio has always<br />

been part of its charm (and makes for a lively lunch hour). Midday<br />

menu prices are reasonable at this outdoor oasis, and the lush<br />

crab melt on griddled sourdough and crab cake sammy with tangy<br />

beurre blanc are top choices.<br />

ELIJAH’S<br />

910-343-1448, elijahs.com<br />

Another <strong>Wilmington</strong> seafood haven whose backdrop is the<br />

Cape Fear River, Elijah’s has been making headlines (and<br />

customers happy) for decades. Ravenous patrons in search of<br />

some afternoon refreshments with a side of waterfront views<br />

always land at this spot on the south end of the riverwalk<br />

— and it’s easy to see why. Popular handhelds include the<br />

grilled salmon BLT on a yeasty pretzel roll, while entrees<br />

like blackened mahi over linguine with silky alfredo sauce<br />

helped put this place on the map. If the weather is iffy, head<br />

inside and enjoy the array of remaining relics — paintings,<br />

ship models, and nautical artifacts—from when Elijah’s was a<br />

maritime museum.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 67

Grilled fish tacos are<br />

both light and delicious,<br />

and can be found on<br />

lots of midday menus.<br />

Blue Surf Café is a<br />

celebrated local hub<br />

known for its inventive<br />

twists on coastal cuisine.<br />


910-256-2226, brasseriedusoleil.com<br />

Lingering over a long lunch is about as European as it gets, and<br />

Brasserie Du Soleil is Lumina Station’s answer for the question:<br />

how do you flaunt your best impression of that laidback lifestyle?<br />

The elegant café offers a treasure trove of French fare, and settling<br />

into the airy courtyard makes the saffron-scented mussels taste<br />

that much sweeter. Thanks to ingredients like poached pears,<br />

seared tuna, and crispy potatoes, Brasserie’s “create your own<br />

salad” section takes everything into far more elevated territory<br />

than one might expect. You’ll be hard pressed to find a table that<br />

isn’t sporting an overflowing crock of caramelized, umami-rich<br />

onion soup with croutons and nutty gruyere.<br />


910-256-7030, famoustoastery.com<br />

Tucked away near Airlie Gardens, this brunch venue keeps its<br />

doors open ‘til 2 PM every day. So while FT’s claims to fame may<br />

be breakfast-y bites like biscuits and gravy, afternoon eats are fully<br />

accessible at this Carolina franchise. It’s hard to beat the Harvest<br />

Wrap with artichoke hearts, roasted veggies, tangy goat cheese, and<br />

quinoa in a lemon-garlic dressing — but the blackened Southwestern<br />

Burger with pepper jack and jalapenos is a spice-lover’s dream. If<br />

you’re a first timer, don’t let the rotating staff confuse you. FT’s<br />

signature “every server is your server” concept means that sweet<br />

tea refills and extra sides of ranch never go forgotten.<br />


910-399-1643, tequilacc.com<br />

As a self-proclaimed chips and queso expert, I’m here to tell you<br />

that Tequila Comida is the real deal. Traditional flavors meet<br />

unconventional dishes in this kitchen, and it’s impossible to not<br />

melt over their humble homemade tortillas. Owners (and siblings)<br />

Ramon and Miguel Villaseñor were already bona fide <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

heroes for their authentic Mexican gem Los Portales, so a hefty<br />

fan following was expected. They gained instant regulars in us all,<br />

however, when we realized that the lunch menu delivered many<br />

of the same exquisitely scratch-made fare as dinner, but with a<br />

lower price tag. Pair the smoky Mole Poblano with juicy chicken<br />

(for under 10 dollars) with one of their adventurous cocktails like<br />

the Tequipiña Colada with coconut tequila, pineapple juice, and<br />

vanilla gelato.<br />


910-523-5362, bluesurfcafe.com<br />

Marry root beer floats, a novel lineup of handhelds, and starters<br />

like crispy chips teeming with parmesan, cilantro, and lime<br />

— and you’ve got Blue Surf Café. This celebrated coastal hub<br />

is known for their all-day hours and inventive twists on coastal<br />

cuisine. They rock counter-service only, which means that if time<br />

is of the essence — you’ve come to the right place. The “Good<br />

Afternoon” menu is packed with impressive sandwiches, salads,<br />

and wraps and there’s something for everyone. If you’re laying<br />

off the meat, the black bean burger with chimichurri mayo and<br />

roasted tomato vinaigrette is legit. On the other end of that<br />

spectrum, the meatloaf (infused with fragrant basil and sweet<br />

brown sugar) on brioche with spicy mayo and house ketchup is a<br />

can’t-miss.<br />


910-452-1212, ruckerjohns.com<br />

The cozy dining room in this North Carolina family-friendly fav<br />

is habitually buzzing with guests anxiously eyeing the mounds<br />

of greens at the next table. The specialty salads are all the rage<br />

at RuckerJohns (well, and those sinfully flaky honey-butter<br />

croissants), but there’s plenty more to enjoy like flatbreads,<br />

burgers, and southern staples like lump crab cakes and crispy<br />

shrimp platters. If you’re looking to cash in your carbs at this<br />

classic American eatery, you’ll want to land on the “Oodles of<br />

Noodles” section for mouthwatering items like chargrilled chicken<br />

penne bursting with Cajun spice, roasted red peppers, and creamy<br />

alfredo sauce.<br />

HAVANA'S<br />

910-458-2822, havanasrestaurant.com<br />

Walking distance from the Carolina Beach boardwalk, Havana’s is<br />

a heavenly lunch paradise where the jerk chicken skewers have the<br />

perfect amount of heat and the clam chowder should be charging<br />

extra for an autograph. The kitchen sources local ingredients as<br />

much as possible and keeps dietary needs in mind with choices<br />

like lemony riced cauliflower tabouli with fresh herbs. Seafood<br />

lovers marvel over the blackened mahi tacos with sesame ginger<br />

vinaigrette and sriracha aioli, while gimmicky offerings like the<br />

Redneck Cuban with vinegary Carolina BBQ and honey mustard<br />

is a hit with the natives.<br />


68 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com



910-769-1798, johnnylukeskb.com<br />

From the sweeping selection of beer taps to the quirky New<br />

American pub grub that always lands rave reviews, this twostory<br />

Market Street bar and restaurant is one-of-a-kind. Head to<br />

JohnnyLuke’s lower level on a rainy afternoon to enjoy some quiet<br />

time with your gooey, golden-brown baked brie with jalapeno berry<br />

jam, or join the party on the upstairs deck to see why the al fresco<br />

dining receives plenty of nods from the public. Hearty, open-faced<br />

meatballs subs, grilled fish tacos, and a smothered buffalo chicken<br />

flatbread round out the menu.<br />


910-399-4780, roosterandthecrow.com<br />

Go for the bacon jam-covered fried green tomatoes, but stay for the<br />

juiciest fried chicken you’ll ever wrap your fingers around. Branded<br />

for colossal portions at reasonable prices, Rooster & The Crow<br />

was a welcome addition to the Chandler’s Wharf’s dining scene<br />

in 2019. The pet-friendly patio just off the riverwalk is a hotbed<br />

for socializing and chowing down on some seriously good southern<br />

food. The Port City Hot Chicken Sandwich with “Nashville style”<br />

hot sauce, slaw, and pickles is the worth every bead of sweat.<br />


910-399-3253, cheesesmithco.com<br />

Remember the days when you had to chase down this grilled<br />

cheese truck before they took off with your buffalo baby? Me too.<br />

When Molly and Brendan Curnyn decided to turn their mobile<br />

eatery into a brick-and-mortar building (sufficiently stocked with<br />

beverages of all kind), you could hear all of <strong>Wilmington</strong> rejoice.<br />

Today, CheeseSmith is permanently “parked” in the Cargo District<br />

and is a magnet for hungry mouths. I clearly have an attachment to<br />

the buffalo chicken variation (armed with life-changing buttermilk<br />

ranch and pickled slaw), but the Brendito with bacon, pepper jam,<br />

and cream cheese is a close second. Share beer cheese fries on the<br />

sunlit patio while scrolling through their drool-worthy Instagram.<br />


910-604-4927, messhallilm.com<br />

If the words “Scott’s tots” don’t mean anything to you, drop<br />

everything you’re doing and get to Mess Hall. Another Cargo<br />

District hot spot (affixed to Alcove Beer Garden for the best of both<br />

worlds), this burger outpost came with a simple concept and has<br />

been nailing it every step of the way. Mess Hall’s expertly narrow<br />

menu showcases beef-centric smash burgers and superb chicken<br />

tendies, but don’t get it twisted—the vegan offering is just as much<br />

of a showstopper. For those who crave something familiar, the Old<br />

Fashioned with onion straws and secret sauce is the way to go. The<br />

McWhat? is not exactly what you think (see: tenders, tomatoes,<br />

and a single patty between potato buns), but it’s still worth getting<br />

messy for.<br />


seaviewcrabcompany.com<br />

SCC has been one of <strong>Wilmington</strong>’s most quintessential seafood<br />

markets since 2006. So when they opened their dine-in kitchen,<br />

loyal customers flocked from near and far to see what Chef Brandon<br />

Stark had in store for them. Owners Joe, Sam and Nathan always<br />

had high hopes for a one-stop shop that dazzled with prepared deli<br />

items, and their dreams came to fruition two years ago. Expect<br />

chef-inspired seafood dishes like gorgeous salads, thoughtfullycrafted<br />

tacos, and po' boys with five-star quality. You can’t beat<br />

the lunch box specials — like an indisputably fresh fish sandwich<br />

that comes with a homemade side and a drink for around 10 bucks.<br />


910-769-7010, wearetrueblue.com<br />

The more informal sister restaurant to True Blue Butcher and<br />

Table, this spin-off from Chef Bobby Zimmerman presents as a<br />

lunch-friendly operation. Situated in the trendy South Front<br />

District, Butcher and Barrel still skews in the direction of its roots<br />

by boasting a butcher shop and selection of high-quality meats —<br />

but has also found its own voice. The spirited vibe (seriously, the<br />

liquor options are extensive) on the open-air patio is contagious,<br />

and regulars of the new location are loving playful menu options<br />

like the pork belly buns with ginger scallion sauce and pungent<br />

kimchee salad. Burgers are a must-try.<br />

A shrimp po’ boy<br />

made to order.<br />

W<br />

Brasserie du<br />

Soleil offers a<br />

treasure trove<br />

of French fare.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 69

“He had told me he<br />

wanted it to look like it’d<br />

been there 100 years…<br />

like a gift from times long<br />

gone,” Gannon says of<br />

Gray’s vision for his house.<br />

A cherished homeland inspires a stunning Gothic manor<br />

By LORI WILSON » Photos by G. FRANK HART<br />

70 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com


four acres of perfectly kept<br />

green grass sits a bold<br />

structure that looks as if<br />

it’s been there for many<br />

lifetimes. And that’s the exact vision<br />

owner Colin Gray wanted for his newly<br />

built house.<br />

Four decades ago, Gray moved to the<br />

United States from his home country of<br />

Ireland to continue his soccer career. His<br />

house off Greenville Loop Road is a tribute<br />

to the small Irish town where he grew up<br />

– specifically, the church where the body<br />

of his grandfather rests and where his<br />

siblings were married.<br />

This church in Barrowhouse, Ireland,<br />

of County Laois, dubs itself a “chapel of<br />

ease,” or a building built as an accessory<br />

to the main parish church, as a space<br />

more accessible to country parishioners.<br />

For Gray, his new home is just that – one<br />

of ease and peace, the place of his dreams.<br />

“Sometimes I wake up in the morning<br />

and pinch myself to make sure this is<br />

real,” Gray says.<br />

As a soccer player, he spent many of his<br />

early stateside years in Massachusetts,<br />

Rhode Island and eventually New York,<br />

where he also gained experience redesigning<br />

other homes of his – a process Gray enjoyed<br />

as an artistic endeavor. After retiring from<br />

the soccer world, Gray transferred careers<br />

and began a pharmaceutical company of<br />

which he is President and CEO. Pharmgate<br />

is a part of the pharmaceutical and<br />

medicine manufacturing industry focused<br />

on livestock and poultry, and seven years<br />

ago Gray relocated his corporate office<br />

to <strong>Wilmington</strong>.<br />

“I visited <strong>Wilmington</strong> on recommendation<br />

of one my employees,” Gray explains. “And<br />

I fell in love.”<br />

Before finding what would become<br />

his little slice of Irish-like heaven, Gray<br />

lived in both Landfall and Autumn Hall,<br />

however the neighborhoods didn’t suit his<br />

deepest desires.<br />

“I spent a lot of time just driving around<br />

trying to find something,” Gray shares.<br />

In 2020, the perfect plot of land<br />

appeared. It had a house on it that at<br />

first Gray considered adapting to his own<br />

needs and vision, but then the Irishman’s<br />

desire for the roots of his homeland<br />

spurred him in another direction, and<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 71

his creativity began to flow. This multifaceted<br />

man began sketching his future<br />

home’s layout in an Excel spreadsheet,<br />

which designated all living spaces be<br />

designed around what is now the pool<br />

courtyard. With cathedral windows and<br />

the stone of his boyhood church, did he<br />

also sketch the family horses now visible<br />

through every windowpane throughout<br />

the finished house? With the drawings of<br />

his Ireland-inspired homestead in hand,<br />

enter builder Jason Gannon of Gannon<br />

Building Group.<br />

A Gothic Exterior<br />

“He had told me he wanted it to look<br />

like it’d been there 100 years and it just<br />

appeared out of the ground, like a gift<br />

(clockwise from above) The saltwater pool<br />

and lounging area has a stone privacy wall<br />

built from the same rock as the house; All<br />

the bedrooms and living spaces are designed<br />

around the pool courtyard, each with a<br />

private entrance; The exterior walls are<br />

fashioned with old quarry rock from both<br />

Tennessee and Pennsylvania while the cedar<br />

shake roof is typical of classical buildings in<br />

Ireland; A custom-made 10-foot double door<br />

commands the home’s entrance.<br />

from times long gone,” builder Gannon<br />

says of Gray’s vision.<br />

As a small, boutique building company,<br />

Gannon appreciates custom requests like<br />

Gray’s, even when they present challenges,<br />

such as ensuring that every room, even<br />

the linen closets, have 14-foot ceilings.<br />

72 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

The kitchen, living room, and dining<br />

area encompass one large seamless<br />

space, and feature large portraits of<br />

wild horses from Nova Scotia taken<br />

by photographer Drew Doggett.<br />

The backsplash for the oven and<br />

range is a giant mirror with a brasslike,<br />

antique finish, which perfectly<br />

reflects the light fixtures and blue<br />

sky coming through the windows.<br />

In the kitchen prep room and<br />

galley pantry, blues arrive in<br />

the form of intricate mosaicstyle<br />

tile squares.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 73

(above) The real masonry fireplace, a replica of one in a French chateau, includes fire brick<br />

recovered from an antiquated building in Boston, and gets the family cat’s approval.<br />

(right) The striking tile design in this guest bath mimics the shape of gingko flower petals.<br />

“That’s the difference between building<br />

something cookie-cutter and really<br />

custom, so custom that no one else has<br />

it,” Gannon says. “This was his [Gray’s]<br />

idea from the start, from the stone on the<br />

outside to the high ceilings.”<br />

The exterior walls, from bottom to top<br />

– perhaps the most stunning feature of<br />

the whole structure – are fashioned with<br />

old quarry rock from both Tennessee and<br />

Pennsylvania. Each stone is a masterpiece<br />

of its own. The cedar shake roof, while<br />

already popular in coastal areas of<br />

southeastern North Carolina, is also<br />

typical of classical buildings in Ireland.<br />

The windows of the main living areas<br />

are all lancet in shape, typical of Gothic<br />

church styles that allow for natural light<br />

to beam indoors and languidly stretch<br />

across the repurposed wooden floors. The<br />

large panes also provide stunning views<br />

of his green pastures, which is home to<br />

his two horses, Starburst and Chief, and<br />

the donkey, Smartie, who, thanks to Gray,<br />

are enjoying their senior years grazing<br />

in the meadows that his brother T.J.<br />

proudly manicures.<br />

“Gothic churches often had courtyards,<br />

a safe place of reverence and prayer where<br />

tranquility and serenity were of utmost<br />

importance. The creation of this feeling<br />

was paramount in the design of the house,”<br />

he explains.<br />

In Gray’s case, the serene courtyard<br />

features a saltwater pool and lounging area,<br />

Roman-Gothic style statues, and a stone<br />

privacy wall built from the same rock as the<br />

house. Copper gutters outlining the stone<br />

keep the construction feeling authentic<br />

and mature.<br />

While some trees on the property had<br />

to be removed to create pastures for the<br />

horses and donkey, Gray has worked<br />

closely with Santiago Landscaping to<br />

bring new growth to the land.<br />

“I would spend many evenings in the<br />

company of my two dogs and a rum and<br />

coke just sitting in communion with the<br />

in-process house and the land allowing<br />

them to speak to me. Design, for me, is<br />

a collaborative process encompassing<br />

design, emotion, and reality,” he says.<br />

After 40 years making his living in<br />

the U.S., such ruminations helped Gray<br />

finally create a familiar home for himself<br />

– newly built with an original design yet<br />

oozing the tranquil calm Gray longed for<br />

that he once felt as an altar boy in his<br />

home church, and the peace he always<br />

found spending time with horses and dogs<br />

in nature.<br />

74 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Also unique to each room are<br />

the chandeliers, for example,<br />

this golden glass fixture in<br />

the master bedroom.<br />

Reclaimed wood<br />

flooring from<br />

a Tennessee<br />

tobacco factory is<br />

throughout all the<br />

main living spaces<br />

and three bedrooms.<br />

The dog room is<br />

fully equipped with<br />

bath stations and<br />

sleeping cubbies.<br />

A Minimalist Interior<br />

While the exterior of Gray’s house could<br />

be described as ornate, beginning with<br />

the custom-made 10-foot double-door<br />

grand entrance, the interior remains<br />

bold, yet with a more minimalist, almost<br />

monastic approach.<br />

The kitchen, living room, and dining<br />

room encompass one large seamless space,<br />

the high ceilings optimizing the supreme<br />

acoustic conditions for the music that he<br />

plays frequently.<br />

“Music is the voice of the angels,” Gray<br />

says with feeling.<br />

This Irishman’s passion for horses also<br />

appears throughout the house in large<br />

portraits, lighted in gallery fashion, of wild<br />

horses from Sable Island, Nova Scotia,<br />

taken by one of his favorite photographers,<br />

Drew Doggett. Gray once owned racehorses<br />

that competed in Ireland and throughout<br />

the United Kingdom but now just tends to<br />

Starburst and Chief, both rescues.<br />

He designed the paneling and modeling<br />

of the entry hallway to frame his most<br />

loved photographs. The laundry and the<br />

“dog room” off the hallway feature Dutchstyle<br />

stable doors. Fully equipped with<br />

bath stations and sleeping cubbies, the<br />

dog room is more like a canine playroom<br />

for his two pups and their friends (in<br />

case Gray’s admiration of animals wasn’t<br />

yet clear).<br />

Gray has managed to flawlessly display<br />

his passions in a space that otherwise<br />

features mostly modern, minimalist<br />

furnishings and finishes. His use of<br />

reclaimed materials gives the interior a<br />

warm yet sophisticated vibe.<br />

The real masonry fireplace, a replica of<br />

one in a French chateau, includes fire brick<br />

recovered from an antiquated building in<br />

Boston. Reclaimed mixed wood flooring<br />

from a Tennessee tobacco factory is the<br />

handsome foundation of all the main living<br />

spaces and three bedrooms.<br />

While shades of gray and white color<br />

the house throughout, the occasional<br />

deep blues and use of gold flourishes add<br />

depth, such as the sizable kitchen mirror,<br />

given a brass-like, antique finish, acting<br />

as a focal-point backsplash for the oven<br />

and range. In the kitchen prep room and<br />

galley pantry, blues arrive in the form of<br />

intricate mosaic-style tile squares.<br />

Other striking tile designs were<br />

installed in the bathrooms, in which none<br />

of the finishes are the same – from marble<br />

rectangles to hexagonal patterns to a tile<br />

that mimics the shape of gingko flower<br />

petals. The walk-in shower of the master<br />

suite, complete with four shower nozzles,<br />

boasts impressive marble sheets that<br />

nearly reach the ceiling.<br />

Also unique to each room are the<br />

chandeliers – many featuring gold or glass<br />

while others feature macrame-type shades<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 75

Chief and Starburst can be<br />

seen from the master bath.<br />

and sea glass. These light fixtures add up<br />

to a total of 22 unique chandeliers in the<br />

3,348 square foot home.<br />

While the bedrooms – all accessible<br />

to the pool courtyard – each bring<br />

special characteristics to the home, Gray<br />

maintains his minimalist approach by<br />

ensuring all decor serves a purpose. Even<br />

the antique tractor seat gifted by one of his<br />

daughters was cleverly refinished to double<br />

as a sort-of kitchen countertop basket.<br />

The Pub<br />

Gray’s dream home would not be complete<br />

without the detached garage turned “pub”<br />

space, ideal for entertaining.<br />

To achieve his Irish aspirations, the<br />

original home on the four-acre lot was<br />

demolished. However, the bones of the<br />

two-car garage remain the only structure<br />

to stay from the original blueprint, with<br />

newly attached horse stables and a feed<br />

shed. Here, Gray incorporated existing<br />

elements, when possible. For example,<br />

he simply refinished the concrete floor,<br />

on which party games are played, and he<br />

The walk-in shower of<br />

the master suite features<br />

marble sheets that nearly<br />

reach the ceiling.<br />

The bones of the<br />

two-car garage remain<br />

the only structure to<br />

stay from the original<br />

property, with newly<br />

attached horse stables<br />

and a feed shed.<br />

Starburst pokes<br />

her head out<br />

of the Dutch<br />

stable door.<br />

76 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

The feed shed turned<br />

“pub” kept some of<br />

the original elements<br />

such as the refinished<br />

concrete floor.<br />

(left) Gray and his brother purposefully weathered metal corrugated sheets for a rustic look on the walls. (right) Stones were dug up from the<br />

prior owners’ prayer walk trail in the backyard and used to create the floor of the bar.<br />

repurposed the former owner’s workshop<br />

table to create a one-of-a-kind bar.<br />

Indeed, a very special piece lives on from<br />

the prior owners. The couple whose home<br />

it was had maintained a “prayer walk”<br />

on the land where, today, Gray’s horses<br />

can often be found resting. Gray used the<br />

stones from the husband’s prayer walk<br />

trail to create the floor of his bar, where<br />

he has shared several special nights<br />

with family and friends. Here, Gray even<br />

designed proper pub seats that resemble<br />

a picture-perfect nook of a small-town<br />

Irish pub.<br />

He and Gannon continued the reclaimed<br />

flavor in the interior and exterior of this<br />

accessory dwelling. In fact, Gray and his<br />

brother purposefully weathered metal<br />

corrugated sheets for a rustic look on the<br />

walls. They also used reclaimed barnwood<br />

on the inside and out.<br />

“When we started putting the siding<br />

on there, my guys were taking out all the<br />

pieces with knots and cracks,” Gannon<br />

shares with a laugh. “My guys thought<br />

they were taking the pieces they thought<br />

were bad, but Colin said ‘no, no, use<br />

those first!’ ”<br />

After all, this homeowner with an old<br />

soul did say he wanted it to look like<br />

“it’d been there forever.” And perhaps for<br />

“forever” this will be Gray’s home, one that<br />

will always echo his beloved Irish roots. W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 77



of <strong>Wilmington</strong>, North Carolina<br />

September/October 2021<br />


MARCH / APRIL 2020<br />

<strong>May</strong>/<strong>June</strong> 2021<br />

MAY / JUNE 2021<br />

Best of <strong>Wilmington</strong> • Summer Day Trips • Contractor’s Dream Home <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

All You Need to<br />

Know for the<br />

Anticipated Season<br />

Dining<br />

Al Fresco<br />

Top Spots for<br />

Decked Out Dining<br />

in the Port City<br />


IN<br />






ALWAYS A<br />

MARINE<br />

Easter<br />

Entertaining<br />

Elegance Made Easy<br />

AT HOME IN<br />




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Latest Trends and<br />

SPRING<br />


Styles to Inspire<br />

Your Outdoor<br />

Living Space<br />

The Tastes of Summer • Best in Business • Mom & Dad Dining Guide <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

The Tastes<br />

of Summer<br />

MOM & DAD<br />

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GUIDE<br />

Palette Worthy Provisions<br />

for the Season<br />

AT HOME IN<br />

ST. JAMES<br />

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Spoonful of<br />

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78 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

dining review in the kitchen libations restaurant guide<br />

Ruth’s Chris is known for<br />

its customer service and<br />

attention to detail but<br />

it’s the consistency of the<br />

steaks’ preparation that<br />

keeps diners coming back,<br />

such as this 22-ounce<br />

Cowboy Ribeye.<br />

A Scenic<br />

Waterfront is<br />

the New Locale<br />

for Legendary<br />

Steaks<br />

Fashionably modern, Ruth’s Chris<br />

new riverfront location is comfortably<br />

upscale with an expansive outdoor<br />

“al fresco” mezzanine<br />


<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 79

Ruth’s Chris Steak House<br />

New scenic waterfront view seals its five-star status<br />

By RAY LINVILLE » Photos by G. FRANK HART<br />

244 N. Water St.<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC<br />

910-343-1818<br />

ruthschris.com<br />


view or the legendary steaks that’s<br />

making the new location of Ruth’s<br />

Chris Steak House on Water Street<br />

so popular?<br />

The steaks, of course, are fabulous as is<br />

the dining experience. Those reasons are<br />

why you voted Ruth’s Chris the winner last<br />

year in our Best of the Best contest for fine<br />

dining. It checks every box for being a fine<br />

dining establishment, and the new scenic<br />

Riverwalk locale certainly bolsters its fivestar<br />

status.<br />

The new location, which opened<br />

in January, is much larger than the<br />

restaurant’s former space in Hotel Ballast,<br />

previously known as <strong>Wilmington</strong> Hilton<br />

Riverside. Now Ruth’s Chris has 7,000<br />

square feet for indoor dining and banquets<br />

as well as more than 2,300 for an outdoor<br />

“al fresco” mezzanine.<br />

The patio dining size, for example, has<br />

increased from 20 seats to about 125 and<br />

includes a temperature-controlled pergola<br />

that seats about 80. “Not only do we have<br />

a brand-new restaurant, but the patio is<br />

really great,” says owner Steve de Castro.<br />

Ruth’s Chris orders only the highest<br />

quality USDA Prime beef from its selected<br />

Corn-fed midwestern<br />

beef creates a filet<br />

that’s tender and full<br />

of flavor.<br />

But what differentiates Ruth’s Chris<br />

from other steak restaurants? De Castro<br />

says, “The difference is the consistency<br />

that we have from steak to steak, and we<br />

take our service very seriously.”<br />

The restaurant’s story is as legendary as<br />

its steaks. The founder, Ruth Fertel, risked<br />

her life savings in 1965 by buying a small<br />

steak restaurant in New Orleans and then<br />

built a reputation over the years of offering<br />

the perfect steak, warm hospitality, and good<br />

times that never stop rolling. A proprietary<br />

De Castro worked with the restaurant’s<br />

founder and has been with the company<br />

since 1985. After immigrating from Cuba<br />

with his family in 1968, he entered the<br />

restaurant business and did everything<br />

from washing dishes, doing prep work, and<br />

working on the line in the kitchen as well<br />

as busing tables, tending bar, and taking<br />

orders in the front of the house.<br />

In 1985, Fertel offered him the<br />

opportunity to manage the restaurant’s<br />

Washington, DC, location, and he took it<br />

“The difference is the consistency that we have from steak to steak,” says Steve de Castro, owner<br />

of Ruth’s Chris in <strong>Wilmington</strong>.<br />

premium suppliers. The best of the best,<br />

these cuts are well-marbled and handselected<br />

for thickness and tenderness.<br />

The steaks are corn-feed Midwestern<br />

beef, which are fed first on grass and<br />

then switched to corn to gain the flavor<br />

and quality that the restaurant requires.<br />

When you dine at Ruth’s Chris, you are<br />

guaranteed of getting the highest quality<br />

beef available.<br />

1,800-degree broiler gave her another<br />

important edge over the competition.<br />

She added her own name to the<br />

restaurant, which had been known as only<br />

Chris Steak House, when a fire forced her<br />

to relocate the business and she couldn’t<br />

continue to use the original name. Now<br />

the world’s largest fine dining company, its<br />

roots in each location guarantee hometown<br />

personal service.<br />

from struggling to the best performing one<br />

in the country. And the rest is history. In<br />

addition to the <strong>Wilmington</strong> location that<br />

de Castro has owned for 13 years, he also<br />

owns three in the Triangle and five more<br />

out of state.<br />

About Fertel, de Castro says, “Her values<br />

are unbelievable. She was a very hardworking<br />

lady all her life. I learned a lot<br />

from her about taking care of customers.”<br />

80 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Savor a<br />

refreshing<br />

Blueberry<br />

Mojito.<br />

The majestic Cape<br />

Fear Room has<br />

views of downtown.<br />

The Crab Stack features<br />

colossal lump crab, avocado,<br />

mango and cucumber.<br />

Come gather on the<br />

outdoor mezzanine<br />

overlooking the Riverwalk.<br />

Owner Steve de Castro<br />

learned how to take<br />

care of customers from<br />

the restaurant’s founder<br />

Ruth Fertel herself.<br />

At Ruth’s Chris, your last bite is just as<br />

good as your first. The perfected broiling<br />

method and seasoning techniques are why<br />

each cut served arrives cooked to perfection<br />

and sizzling on a 500-degree plate—just<br />

the way Ruth liked it.<br />

Steaks and chops include a 16-ounce<br />

ribeye, a 16-ounce New York strip, a<br />

24-ounce T-bone, and an 11- or 8-ounce filet.<br />

Want to share the richness of a strip and the<br />

tenderness of a filet with someone special?<br />

Order the 40-ounce porterhouse for two.<br />

Specialty cuts include the 40-ounce bonein<br />

ribeye, 19-ounce bone-in New York strip,<br />

and 16-ounce bone-in filet. Consider entrée<br />

complements such as lobster tail, grilled<br />

shrimp, Oscar-style, and bleu cheese crust.<br />

In addition to serving the perfect<br />

steak, Ruth’s Chris has fish, chicken, and<br />

lighter vegetarian fare among the other<br />

tantalizing options to please every palate.<br />

For example, these specialties include<br />

garlic-crusted sea bass, featured fish and<br />

shrimp, sizzling crab cakes, and stuffed<br />

chicken breast.<br />

Before enjoying your entrée, consider<br />

an appetizers such as spicy shrimp,<br />

beef carpaccio, sizzling crab cakes, and<br />

mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat.<br />

Complement your entrée with the signature<br />

side dishes such as cremini mushrooms,<br />

roasted Brussels sprouts, sweet potato<br />

casserole, and creamed spinach.<br />

Are you surprised to learn that the<br />

recipes of Ruth’s Chris amazing sweet<br />

potato casserole and creamed spinach<br />

dishes are available? They are along with<br />

recipes of bread pudding, mozzarella and<br />

kumato tomato salad, barbequed shrimp,<br />

and crab cakes. Just ask your server or<br />

another team member.<br />

A prix fixe meal features Ruth’s seasonal<br />

classics such as a six-ounce filet paired<br />

with three large shrimp or lobster tail as<br />

the entrée with sides of creamed spinach<br />

and garlic mashed potatoes. First, enjoy a<br />

starter such as lobster bisque or a salad.<br />

The chef’s seasonal selection of dessert<br />

finishes the perfect meal.<br />

The bar, which is the home to the<br />

popular happy hour menu available<br />

from 4-6:30pm, is more than just worldclass<br />

wines, although some 300 labels<br />

are available. Handcrafted cocktails<br />

from vintage classics to house specialties<br />

are all made with fresh-squeezed juices,<br />

premium spirits, and the perfect finishing<br />

touches. Ruth’s favorite is the Gambler’s<br />

Old-Fashioned.<br />

Ruth’s Chris is the best place to<br />

celebrate life’s special moments, such as<br />

a romantic steak dinner, an important<br />

business meeting, or a private party.<br />

Complimentary valet parking makes<br />

every arrival easy regardless of the time.<br />

“It’s convenient—it’s what counts,” adds de<br />

Castro. And it’s those details that add up<br />

to the five-star experience. W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 81

Summer Palate<br />

Tantalizing twists on the season’s homespun classics<br />

Recipes and Photos by KAITLIN GOODING<br />

Summertime. It’s another word<br />

for “fun in the sun” for Southerners, and<br />

the season is around the corner. Beach<br />

trips, camping, and backyard cookouts are<br />

here or on the way and we’re sharing some<br />

of our favorite Southern dishes to serve to<br />

our guests.<br />

Sink your teeth into a fried chicken<br />

sandwich where you’ll taste a hot<br />

honey sauce brushed on while it’s still<br />

sizzling. Pick your freshest produce to<br />

cook up this okra salad topped with blue<br />

cheese crumbles and prosciutto. The sweet<br />

and savory Blackberry Bourbon Baked<br />

Beans provides a new spin on a traditional<br />

favorite.<br />

You must include sweet cornbread<br />

biscuits at your next cookout. Pair them<br />

with the peach curd if you want them<br />

to steal the show. Wash down all this<br />

deliciousness with the refreshing lemon<br />

smash that delivers a slice of summertime<br />

with each sip. Now your only decision to<br />

make is which recipe you’ll try first!<br />

82 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Sweet Cornbread Biscuits<br />

Makes 10-12 biscuits<br />

Ingredients:<br />

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour<br />

1 1/3 cups cornmeal<br />

4 tsp baking powder<br />

1 tsp baking soda<br />

Pinch of salt<br />

12 tbsp butter<br />

1 egg<br />

1/3 cup honey<br />

3/4 cup buttermilk<br />

Directions:<br />

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.<br />

2. In a bowl combine the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking<br />

soda, and salt together. Add the butter and cut it into the flour<br />

until it is well combined into crumbles.<br />

3. In a small bowl mix the egg, honey and buttermilk together.<br />

Add it into the dry ingredients bowl until you have a thick<br />

mixture. You can add more flour if it is too runny or a dash of<br />

water if it is too thick.<br />

4. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Use a spoon to dish<br />

out a sizable biscuit on to the paper and use your hands to form<br />

into a round shape.<br />

5. Bake the biscuits for 12-15 minutes until nice and brown.<br />


Makes 1.5-2 cups<br />

Ingredients:<br />

3 peaches<br />

1 cup sugar<br />

1 egg<br />

4 egg yolks<br />

1 tsp lemon juice<br />

pinch of salt<br />

6 tbsp butter<br />

Directions:<br />

1. Peel the peaches and cut into pieces, removing the pit. Add to<br />

the blender and mix until smooth.<br />

2. In a heat-proof bowl add sugar and egg/egg yolks and whisk<br />

together. Add the lemon juice, salt, and peach puree.<br />

3. In a pot bring an inch of water to a boil. Place the bowl over the<br />

water, but the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl.<br />

Continuously whisk the ingredients for 6-8 minutes.<br />

4. Remove from the heat, add the butter while it is hot, and mix<br />

until it is completely combined. Spread over your biscuits, or<br />

store the curd in glass jars in the refrigerator.<br />

Blackberry Bourbon Baked Beans<br />

4-5 servings<br />

Ingredients:<br />

2 cups blackberries (fresh is best but frozen will work)<br />

1/2 cup maple syrup<br />

1/4 cup bourbon<br />

2 tsp apple cider vinegar<br />

1 tsp Dijon mustard<br />

1/4 cup BBQ sauce<br />

1 tsp smoked paprika<br />

1 tsp salt<br />

2 strips bacon, chopped<br />

1/4 cup white onions, diced<br />

2 cans white beans<br />

Directions:<br />

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.<br />

2. Simmer the berries on medium-low heat for about 10 minutes<br />

with the syrup, bourbon, vinegar, Dijon, BBQ sauce, paprika<br />

and salt. Once the berries are soft, mash and stir the<br />

ingredients into a sauce.<br />

3. While the berries are still simmering, cook the chopped bacon<br />

with the onions in a separate pan.<br />

4. Drain the canned beans and add to a cast iron pan. Spoon the<br />

blackberry mix through a mesh strainer over top the beans to<br />

remove most of the seeds.<br />

5. Mix in the cooked bacon and onions and pop the cast iron into<br />

the oven. Bake the beans for 30-35 minutes or until the sauce<br />

is thick. Remove from the heat and serve warm.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 83

Okra Salad<br />

Makes 4 side servings<br />

Ingredients:<br />

2 cups okra, cut into quarter-inch rounds<br />

2 ears of corn, cut from the cob<br />

Olive oil to taste<br />

5-6 slices of prosciutto<br />

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles<br />

Directions:<br />

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.<br />

2. Place okra and corn into a bowl and toss with olive oil and salt<br />

and paper to taste.<br />

3. Place the okra mixture onto a baking sheet and cook in the<br />

oven for about 10-15 minutes.<br />

4. Remove from the oven once they are browned and crisp. Tear<br />

the prosciutto into pieces and add it to a bowl with the corn and<br />

okra, tossing together. Top it off with the blue cheese crumbles<br />

and enjoy.<br />

L emon Smash<br />

Makes one drink<br />


2 tbsp sugar<br />

Zest of one lemon<br />

SHANDY:<br />

1 ounce simple syrup<br />

1 ounce lemon juice<br />

3 ounces soda water<br />

6 oz of beer (light beer)<br />

Garnish: lemon slice or mint sprig<br />

Directions:<br />

1. Make the lemon sugar for the rim by combining lemon zest and<br />

sugar on a plate. Rim your glass with a slice of lemon to make<br />

the sugar stick.<br />

2. Roll the rim of a beer glass or Mason jar through the lemonsugar.<br />

3. Pour in the simple syrup, lemon juice, soda water, and stir.<br />

Add the beer over top and gently stir until combined. Garnish<br />

with a sprig of mint or slice of lemon.<br />

Note: Purchase simple syrup at the store, or to make your<br />

own, combine:<br />

1 cup of water<br />

1 cup of granulated sugar<br />

Directions: Add the sugar to a pot of water on medium heat. Stir<br />

the sugar into the water until it is completely dissolved. Remove<br />

from the heat and allow the syrup to cool to room temperature<br />

before pouring into a closed container to store in the refrigerator.<br />

84 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Sandwich<br />

Makes four sandwiches<br />

Ingredients:<br />

4 chicken breasts<br />

1 cup buttermilk<br />

1.5 cups flour<br />

2 tsp salt<br />

1.5 tsp baking powder<br />

2 tbsp Panko bread crumbs<br />

Vegetable oil for frying<br />


1/4 cup butter, melted<br />

1/4 cup honey<br />

1 tbsp smoked paprika<br />

3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (use more if you would like it spicier)<br />

Pinch of salt<br />

1/2 tsp garlic powder<br />

Favorite condiments to add: mayonnaise and arugula<br />

Directions:<br />

1. Add the chicken breasts to a bowl and sprinkle with salt and<br />

pepper. Add the buttermilk over top, cover and let sit in the<br />

refrigerator for 30 minutes.<br />

2. Mix flour, salt, baking powder and Panko for the coating in<br />

a large bowl. Place the chicken on to a baking tray ready for<br />

frying.<br />

3. In a large pot, pour your oil until it covers about 2 inches deep.<br />

Increase the temperature on the stove till the oil is hot, around<br />

335 degrees.<br />

4. Fry the chicken about 15-20 minutes, keeping a close eye on it,<br />

and maintaining a high temperature. Flip the chicken about<br />

half way through.<br />

5. Remove the chicken from the frying pot and lay to rest on a<br />

cooling rack. Check the internal temperature has reached 160<br />

degrees so you know it is fully cooked.<br />

6. Make your hot honey sauce by mixing all the ingredients<br />

together and brush over your chicken. Add the chicken to your<br />

bun of choice along with any favorite condiments. At my house,<br />

mayonnaise and arugula usually top it off. Enjoy!<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 85

libations<br />

Wines Perfect for<br />

Alfresco Dining<br />

The “wild white grape” of Spring<br />


and each week is heralded<br />

with an ongoing procession<br />

of flowering trees, I seek<br />

out wines that echo those<br />

spring breezes and are perfect for alfresco<br />

dining. Often, I reach for wines made from<br />

“the wild white” grape, Sauvignon Blanc.<br />

These wines tend to have an herbaceous<br />

quality, brisk acidity, and a fresh citrus<br />

character that is refreshing and perfect<br />

for springtime.<br />

In France, where wine is named for its<br />

region, rather than its grape, Sauvignon<br />

Blanc is presented as a single varietal in<br />

the eastern Loire regions of Sancerre and<br />

Pouilly-Fumé. California wineries state<br />

the varietal prominently on the label or<br />

sometimes call Sauvignon Blanc fumé<br />

blanc in a nod to the French. Sauvignon<br />

Blanc also grows with distinction in New<br />

Zealand and Australia. In New Zealand,<br />

the prominent citrus elements and racy<br />


The white<br />

Sauvignon Blanc<br />

grape thrives in<br />

different parts<br />

of the world.<br />

acidity of Sauvignon Blanc are what vaulted<br />

the region onto the international wine<br />

scene in the 1980s and now dominates its<br />

export markets.<br />

A Sauvignon Blanc from any of<br />

these regions would be a delightful<br />

accompaniment to relaxing on a spring<br />

afternoon and reveling in the beauty of<br />

the season. A couple years ago, we took<br />

a family trip to Normandy and the Loire<br />

in <strong>May</strong> and that is when I first became<br />

enamored of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé.<br />

Recently, I had occasion to try the 2019<br />

Sancerre Les Griottes from Domaine<br />

Gueneau. This wine, like many Sauvignon<br />

Blancs is fermented and aged in stainless<br />

steel tanks to preserve the fresh, dynamic<br />

qualities that might become muted from<br />

time in oak casks. While many vineyards<br />

of the region have flinty soils, what the<br />

French call silex, the old vines of Domaine<br />

Gueneau are anchored in limestone<br />

pebbles. Sometimes this soil is thought to<br />

contribute less minerality to the wines and<br />

accentuate its citrus character. Indeed,<br />

this wine has distinct notes of key lime<br />

and grapefruit, plus chamomile and a<br />

refreshing acidity. It is crisp and light and<br />

perfect for spring.<br />

Among the most popular New Zealand<br />

Sauvignon Blancs is the ubiquitous Kim<br />

Crawford from Marlborough. I enjoy its<br />

bouquet of white grapefruit and the zippy<br />

acidity. It is light, fun and delicious. I have<br />

heard that it is best-selling Sauvignon<br />

Blanc in the US, likely attributable in<br />

part to its acquisition by Constellation<br />

Brands from Crawford in 2007. Opting<br />

to branch out, I recently enjoyed a 2020<br />

Earth Garden, also from Marlborough, by<br />

Villa Maria. As one might expect from a<br />

“New World” wine, it is lush, fruity and<br />

more opulent than the reserved Sancerre.<br />

Citrus dominates with white grapefruit,<br />

yellow apple and apricot on both the<br />

nose and palate. Marlborough is a cool<br />

maritime climate, and Earth Garden has<br />

the brisk acidity reflective of its terroir. A<br />

hint of grassy aromas on the nose reminds<br />

me why I love Sauvignon Blanc in the<br />

springtime. Cool, green and inviting, the<br />

Earth Garden is also sustainably farmed<br />

with an emphasis on soil health, and might<br />

be just the thing to cap off an afternoon<br />

working in the garden.<br />

Classic springtime fare pairs quite well<br />

with Sauvignon Blanc. A salad of local<br />

greens, roasted chicken and chunks of<br />

avocado welcomes all those citrusy notes.<br />

That zippy acidity certainly complements a<br />

creamy plate of shellfish, a cheesy vegetable<br />

dish or quiche. Or amplify those grassy<br />

aromas with lemongrass chicken. Crisp<br />

and refreshing. Hurrah for springtime! W<br />

Sheep and lamb graze<br />

the grass among the<br />

Sauvignon Blanc vines in<br />

the Marlborough wine<br />

region of New Zealand.<br />

86 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com



NOW OPEN<br />

244 N. WATER STREET | 919.343.1818 | RUTHSCHRIS.COM<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 87

The Only Thing<br />

We OverlOOk<br />

is The river!<br />

Ruth’s Chris special grind<br />

on a brioche bun with<br />

crispy onion, lettuce,<br />

tomato, onion, Swiss<br />

cheese & smoked onion<br />

aioli with yummy fries.<br />



2 Ann Street, <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

910-343-0200<br />

pilothouserest.com<br />

SUN-THURS 11:30 - 9:00 • FRI & SAT 11:30 - 10:00<br />


Outdoor Seating<br />

Overlooking the<br />

Cape Fear River<br />

Ready to Eat?<br />

Use our restaurant listings to find the best<br />

eating and drinking in <strong>Wilmington</strong>.<br />

• OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK •<br />

910-343-1448<br />

Elijahs.com<br />

88 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

1/2 PRICE<br />



4-6PM<br />




Blue Surf Café 250 Racine Dr.,<br />

523-5362. Serving breakfast, lunch,<br />

and dinner while striving to use as<br />

many locally sourced ingredients as<br />

possible, plus a dog-friendly patio.<br />

Open Mon-Sat.<br />

Bluewater Waterfront Grill 4 Marina<br />

St., 256-8500. Offers panoramic views<br />

of the Intracoastal Waterway. Dinner<br />

mainstays include fresh seafood, baby<br />

back ribs, char-grilled steaks, and<br />

delicious homemade desserts. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Butts-n-Such 802 Lake Park Blvd S<br />

(Car. Beach), 458-2667. This new local<br />

spot has a made-to-order breakfast you<br />

can enjoy inside, and a window that<br />

makes it easy to pick up their menu of<br />

housemade barbecue, fried shrimp,<br />

burgers and more. Open Tues-Sunday,<br />

7am to 9pm.<br />

CheeseSmith 624 S 17th St, 399-3253.<br />

Sandwiches that ooze with distinction<br />

depending on what cheesy combo is<br />

featured. Don’t miss one of their French<br />

fry specialties either. Open 11am to 8pm,<br />

closed Mondays.<br />

Copper Penny 109 Chestnut St.,<br />

762-1373. More than a sports bar,<br />

offering an eclectic mix of appetizers,<br />

salads, and sandwiches along with an<br />

array of mixed drinks and beers. Lunch<br />

and dinner daily.<br />

Dixie Grill 116 Market St., 762-7280.<br />

The casual dinette known for great<br />

breakfasts and brunch in the heart of<br />

downtown <strong>Wilmington</strong>. Breakfast and<br />

lunch daily.<br />

Famous Toastery 6722 Wrightsville<br />

Ave, 256-7030. Breakfast and lunch<br />

served all day. Try one of their Benedicts!<br />

Open daily from 8am to 2pm.<br />

Front Street Brewery 9 N. Front St.,<br />

251-1935. Offering great food and micro<br />

brews including gourmet sandwiches,


<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 89

urgers, and entrees like their famous<br />

Scottish Ale Brew-B-Q Ribs. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Henry’s 2508 Independence Blvd.,<br />

793-2929. Locally sourced classic<br />

American fare in an inviting and<br />

casual environment with outdoor dining<br />

available. Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Pink Baking Co. 5543 Carolina Beach<br />

Rd., Suite 140; 799-9119. Breakfast,<br />

lunch, and dessert. Light fare available<br />

Mon-Sat 11am to 9 pm.<br />

Jerry’s Food, Wine and Spirits 7220<br />

Wrightsville Ave., 256-8847. Fine dining<br />

in a casual bistro atmosphere with an everchanging,<br />

creative menu. Open nightly<br />

Tuesday-Sunday.<br />

Jester’s Café 607 Castle St., 763-6555.<br />

Breakfast, lunch and Sat./Sun. brunch in<br />

a casual, fun downtown location. Quiches,<br />

salads, soups, sandwiches, and more.<br />

Closed Mondays.<br />

Mess Hall ILM (at the Outpost) 348<br />

Hutchison Ln, 604-4927. Craft burgers in<br />

the Cargo district where meat, chicken and<br />

vegan offerings make every palate happy.<br />

Open Mon-Sat from 11am to 9pm.<br />

Oceanic 703 S. Lumina Ave., 256-5551.<br />

Situated on the beach overlooking the<br />

Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy fresh seafood, exciting<br />

land lover’s dishes and breathtaking views.<br />

Outdoor seating is available. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Oceans 1706 N. Lumina Ave., 256-2231.<br />

Located inside the Holiday Inn Resort,<br />

Oceans is the perfect locale for fresh seafood<br />

and steaks alongside magnificent views of<br />

the ocean. Breakfast, lunch, dinner daily.<br />

Rooster & The Crow 225 S Water St<br />

in Chandler’s Wharf, 399-4780. Serving<br />

hearty Southern staples in the evenings<br />

Wed-Sat, and from 11 am Saturday and<br />

Sunday. Closed Mon/Tues.<br />

RuckerJohns 5564 Carolina Beach Rd.,<br />

452-1212. High-quality food served up in a<br />

fun, relaxing atmosphere. Burgers, steak,<br />

chicken, and salads. Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Salt Works (The Original) 6301 Oleander<br />

Dr., 350-0018. Comfort food cooked to order.<br />

Breakfast and lunch. Open daily.<br />

Savor Southern Kitchen 3704 Carolina<br />

Beach Rd, 769-8112. Serving up a taste of<br />

southern hospitality, with fan-favorites like<br />

chicken and waffles, omelets, benedicts,<br />

burgers, fried chicken and more. Breakfast<br />

and lunch, 8am to 2pm, closed on Tue.<br />

Sweet & Savory Café 1611 Pavilion Pl.,<br />

256-0115. A full menu breakfast, lunch,<br />

and dinner restaurant with dishes made<br />

from scratch. Open daily 7am-9pm.<br />

Tavern on 17th 1611 Dusty Miller Ln.<br />

#305, 910-765-1157. This neighborhood<br />

restaurant and bar has a little something<br />

for everyone. Enjoy their wide-open air<br />

patio, complete with an outdoor fire pit and<br />

heaters. Open 11:30am to 11pm every day.<br />

The Basics 319 N. Front St., 343-1050.<br />

Traditional Southern fare with a twist,<br />

including fried green tomatoes, smoked<br />

pork BBQ, grilled pimento cheese, and<br />

a fried chicken BLT. Breakfast, lunch,<br />

dinner daily, Sunday brunch.<br />

The Pilot House 2 Ann St., 343-0200.<br />

Overlooking the Cape Fear River with<br />

a large outside deck, this longtime<br />

favorite serves traditional Southern fare<br />

with a contemporary twist. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

True Blue Butcher and Barrel 1125<br />

Military Cutoff Rd and 110 Greenfield<br />

Street, 769-7010. From hearty dinner<br />

salads to an array of snacks, shareables<br />

and entrees, dine on the open patio as you<br />

pick up tomorrow’s meal in their butcher<br />

shop. Open daily for lunch and dinner.<br />

White Front Breakfast House 1518<br />

Market St., 762-5672. Historic downtown<br />

diner—a local favorite. Biscuits and gravy,<br />

corned beef hash, smoked sausage, eggs<br />

any way you like. Open daily 6am to 2pm.<br />

ASIAN<br />

Bento Box 1121 Military Cutoff Rd.,<br />

509-0774. Asian street food with a<br />

combination of Japanese, Korean,<br />

Vietnamese, and Thai dishes. Sushi bar.<br />

Lunch Mon-Fri, Dinner Mon-Sat.<br />

Big Thai 1319 Military Cutoff Rd.,<br />

256-6588. Famous for authentic Thai cuisine.<br />

Don’t miss the coconut cake as a sweet and<br />

savory finale. Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Blue Asia 341 S. College Rd., 799-0002.<br />

An Asian bistro offering a wide range of<br />

authentic Chinese, Japanese, and Thai<br />

cuisines using the freshest seafood, meats,<br />

and vegetables. Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Café Chinois 3710 College Rd Unit #123,<br />

769-3193. <strong>Wilmington</strong>'s newest Asian-<br />

Fusion restaurant featuring Thai food and<br />

dishes from Vietnam, Korea, and China<br />

served in a stylish setting. Open daily.<br />

Double Happiness 4403 Wrightsville<br />

Ave., 313-1088. A great mix of traditional<br />

Chinese dishes and modern twists on<br />

favorites. Prepared fresh daily. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Indochine 7 Wayne Dr., 251-9229. Enjoy<br />

the finest Thai-Vietnamese cuisine in a<br />

beautifully decorated environment. Voted<br />

best Asian restaurant 10 years in a row.<br />

Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Szechuan 132 419 S. College Rd.,<br />

799-1426. For over 30 years the<br />

longstanding restaurant has been serving<br />

fine contemporary Chinese dining in a<br />

relaxed atmosphere. Open for lunch and<br />

dinner/closed Tuesdays.<br />

Tokyo 101 880 Town Center Dr.,<br />

399-3101. Traditional Japanese with fresh<br />

sushi, diverse noodle dishes, combination<br />

plates, and appetizers. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Yosake Downtown Sushi Lounge 33 S.<br />

Front St., 763-3172. Lacquered walls and<br />

unique art surround guests as they dine on<br />

sushi and Pan/Asian fare. Dinner nightly<br />

at 5pm.<br />

CAJUN<br />

Bourbon Street 35 N. Front St.,<br />

762-4050. Experience authentic Cajun<br />

cuisine in a uniquely decorated setting that<br />

has the appeal of being in New Orleans.<br />

Try the famous charbroiled oysters. Lunch<br />

and dinner daily.<br />


Circa 1922 8 N. Front St., 762-1922.<br />

An ever-changing seasonal menu with<br />

locally sourced seafood and produce and<br />

housemade pasta. Craft cocktails and an<br />

extensive wine list. Dinner nightly at 5pm.<br />

East Oceanfront Dining 275 Waynick<br />

Blvd., 256-2251. Award-winning cuisine<br />

accompanied by the sounds of breaking<br />

surf and a soothing coastal breeze. Enjoy<br />

fresh local seafood or grass-fed beef while<br />

you dine under a canopied, oceanfront deck<br />

or inside. Dinner nightly, Sunday brunch.<br />

90 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Manna 123 Princess St., 763-5252.<br />

Serving New American cuisine with<br />

European flare, they emphasize the<br />

freshest ingredients from local farmers.<br />

Dinner Tue-Sun.<br />

Port Land Grill 1908 Eastwood Rd.,<br />

256-6056. Progressive American regional<br />

cuisine served in a casual yet elegant<br />

coastal setting. Dinner Tue-Sat.<br />

Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse 244 N Water St.,<br />

343-1818. The upmarket steakhouse is located<br />

in River Place steps away from Thalian Hall<br />

and the Riverwalk, offering river views and<br />

outdoor seating. Dinner nightly.<br />

Rx Restaurant & Bar 421 Castle St.,<br />

399-3080. Local foods prepared with a<br />

uniquely Southern twist including yummy<br />

fried chicken. Lunch and dinner Tue-Sun.<br />

FRENCH<br />

Brasserie Du Soleil 1908 Eastwood Rd.,<br />

256-2226. French café with both patio<br />

and inside dining. Pick your own salad<br />

ingredients from a wide selection of items.<br />

Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Caprice Bistro 10 Market St., 815-0810.<br />

Authentic French bistro. Elegant dining<br />

downstairs with sofa bar upstairs and a<br />

great martini selection. Dinner nightly.<br />

Our Crepes & More 3810 Oleander Dr.,<br />

395-0077. Family-owned French creperie.<br />

Authentic homemade cuisine. Open Tue-<br />

Sunday for breakfast and lunch.<br />

The Little Dipper 138 S. Front St.,<br />

251-0433. Unique, fun fondue menu<br />

includes premium meats, seafood,<br />

vegetables, appetizers, desserts, and<br />

homemade dipping sauces. Dinner nightly<br />

Memorial Day-Labor Day.<br />

RELAX &<br />



HAVANA’S<br />


Thanks for Voting us<br />

Best Sunday Brunch!<br />

1 N. Lake Park Boulevard<br />

Carolina Beach<br />

910-458-2822<br />

havanasrestaurant.com<br />

Relax & Enjoy the Flavor of Havana’s<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 91

GERMAN<br />

The German Café 316 Nutt St. (at the<br />

Cotton Exchange), 763-5523. Familyowned,<br />

incorporating many recipes from<br />

their native Germany. Wursts, schnitzels,<br />

sauerbraten and more. Lunch and dinner.<br />

Closed Sundays.<br />


Boardwalk Pizza & Subs 6756 Gordon<br />

Rd. #190, 910-660-8179. Pizza is their<br />

specialty yet the menu is full of other<br />

Jersey favorites like pepperoni roll ups,<br />

Philly Cheesesteak, and more. Tues-Fri for<br />

lunch and dinner.<br />

Fat Tony’s Italian Pub 131 N. Front St.,<br />

343-8881; and 250 Racine Dr., 452-9000.<br />

Great family-friendly restaurant. Front St.<br />

location offers fantastic views of the Cape<br />

Fear River. A mix of Italian and American<br />

fare and a full bar, including 25 beers on<br />

tap. Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Floriana 2 Market St., 504-0160.<br />

Floriana’s fluently Italian cuisine features<br />

handmade pastas, decadent cheeses, and<br />

authentic dishes. Enjoy dining on a private<br />

balcony overlooking the Riverwalk. Open<br />

Wed-Mondays for lunch and dinner.<br />

Giorgio’s 5226 S. College Rd., 790-9954.<br />

From Old World-style dishes to modern day<br />

creations, Giorgio’s menu showcases pasta,<br />

seafood, steaks, pork chops, soups, and<br />

salads. Dinner Mondays, lunch and dinner<br />

Tue-Sun.<br />

Italian Bistro 8211 Market St., 686-7774.<br />

A local favorite in the Porter's Neck / Ogden<br />

area, offering a variety of homemade dishes<br />

and pizza. Open daily for lunch, dinner and<br />

Sunday brunch.<br />

Kornerstone Bistro 8262 Market St.,<br />

686-2296. Traditional Mediterranean<br />

fare and wood-fired pizzas. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Nicola’s 5704 Oleander Dr., 798-2205. An<br />

Italian eatery with daily homemade pasta,<br />

sausage, baked breads, and more. Dinner<br />

Tue-Sun.<br />

Osteria Cicchetti 1125 Military Cutoff<br />

Rd., 256-7476. 5104 S. College Rd.,<br />

392-3490. Serving a variety of pasta<br />

dishes, pizza, salads, and antipasti. Lunch<br />

Mon-Fri. Dinner nightly.<br />

Pizzetta’s Pizzeria 4107 Oleander Dr.,<br />

799-4300; and 1144 E. Cutler Crossing<br />

92 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com<br />

(Leland), 371-6001. Hottest spot for pizza<br />

by the slice, offering dozens of pizza<br />

choices with a New York flair. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Quanto Basta: Italian Eatery & Wine<br />

Bar 107 N 2nd St., 395-6120. An uptown<br />

family-owned Italian restaurant serving<br />

exquisite authentic dishes. Open Mon-Sat<br />

from 2-9pm.<br />

Roko Italian Cuisine 6801-105 Parker<br />

Farm Dr., 679-4783. Features authentic<br />

northern Italian cuisine. Reservations are<br />

often necessary at this intimate spot in<br />

<strong>May</strong>faire. Dinner nightly.<br />

Tarantelli’s Ristorante 102 S. 2nd St.,<br />

763-3806. Charming old-world atmosphere<br />

serving dishes passed down from the<br />

Tarantelli family for three generations<br />

with a large selection of Italian wines.<br />

Open nightly Tue-Sun.<br />


Tequila Comida & Cantina 5607<br />

Carolina Beach Rd., #130, 910-399-1643.<br />

A unique Mexican experience, serving<br />

new and authentic dishes alongside a<br />

Tex Mex section for people who want the<br />

familiar flavors. Open daily for lunch<br />

and dinner.<br />

Zocalo Street Food 1474 Barclay Pointe<br />

Blvd., 833-5142. Modern Mexican food in<br />

a stylish, airy space with outdoor seating.<br />

Open daily.<br />


Epic Food Co. 1113 Military Cutoff Rd.,<br />

679-4216. Sandwiches, salads, noodle<br />

and rice bowls, and other organic and allnatural<br />

selections. Lunch and dinner,<br />

Mon-Sat.<br />

Lovey’s Market & Café 1319 Military<br />

Cutoff, 509-0331. A health food store and<br />

café with fresh, delicious, healthy organic<br />

food and baked goods. The café is open<br />

daily 11am-6pm.<br />

Tidal Creek Co-op 5329 Oleander Dr.,<br />

799-2667. An organic grocery store with<br />

an inside café offering organic and veganfriendly<br />

options for casual dine-in or takeout.<br />

Café open 11am-6pm daily.<br />


Black Sea Grill 118 S. Front St.,<br />

254-9990. Mediterranean-style eatery in<br />

a quaint downtown location. Lamb chops,<br />

seafood, vegetarian options. Lunch and<br />

dinner Tue-Sat.<br />

Bridge Tender 1414 Airlie Rd.,<br />

256-4519. Fresh seafood and certified<br />

Angus beef steaks, dine on the outdoor patio<br />

overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.<br />

Lunch Mon-Fri., dinner nightly.<br />

Cape Fear Seafood Company 5226<br />

S. College Rd., 799-7077; 140 Hays Lane,<br />

681-1140; 143 Poole Rd., 399-6739. Regional<br />

American cuisine featuring seafood, handcut<br />

fish, steaks and chicken served in a<br />

comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Lunch<br />

and dinner daily.<br />

Catch 6623 Market St., 799-3847. Wildcaught<br />

and sustainably raised seafood, a<br />

modern approach to coastal cuisine with<br />

an acclaimed wine list. Dinner Mon-Sat.<br />

Dockside 1308 Airlie Rd., 256-2752.<br />

The place to be for seafood fare on the<br />

Intracoastal Waterway. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Dock Street Oyster Bar 12 Dock St.,<br />

762-2827. Voted best oyster bar 13 years in<br />

a row. Come enjoy some great Caribbeanstyle<br />

fare in a chic atmosphere. Lunch and<br />

dinner daily.<br />

Elijah’s 2 Ann St., 343-1448. Casual<br />

American grill and oyster bar overlooking<br />

the Cape Fear River. Seafood, steaks,<br />

chicken, salads. Lunch and dinner daily,<br />

Sunday brunch.<br />

Fish House Grill 1410 Airlie Rd.,<br />

256-3693. A landmark seafood restaurant<br />

for decades, enjoy waterfront casual dining<br />

overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway.<br />

Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Hieronymus 5035 Market St., 392-6313.<br />

Come enjoy locally sourced seafood and<br />

fresh vegetables in a casual atmosphere,<br />

a locals’ favorite for more than 30 years.<br />

Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

Savorez 402 Chestnut St., 833-8894.<br />

Come enjoy a unique dining experience<br />

drawing from traditional Latin American<br />

inspired cuisine. Fresh seafood, chicken<br />

and grilled pork, tacos, salsas and<br />

dessert. Open daily for lunch and dinner,<br />

and Sunday brunch.<br />

Seabird 1 S Front St., 769-5996.<br />

Seafood restaurant serving oysters,<br />

fish, a yummy breakfast and cocktails<br />

amid a retro, white-tiled interior. Open

Thursday to Monday for breakfast,<br />

lunch and dinner. Closed Tue and Wed.<br />

Thank you for voting us<br />



5 years in a row!<br />

Seaview Crab Company Kitchen<br />

1515 Marstellar St, 769-1554. Fresh<br />

seafood over salads, in tacos and in madeto-order<br />

po’boys, plus prepared foods to<br />

go. Open daily from 11am-6:30pm, and<br />

Sundays from10am-3pm.<br />

Authentic Italian Fine Dining<br />

in Historic Downtown <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

910.763.3806<br />

102 South Second St., <strong>Wilmington</strong><br />

tarantellis.com<br />

Shuckin’ Shack Oyster Bar 127 N.<br />

Front St., 833-8622; 6A N. Lake Park Blvd.,<br />

458-7380. Come watch your favorite<br />

sports team while enjoying oysters,<br />

shrimp, crab cakes, po’ boys, and<br />

fresh salads. Casual, family-friendly<br />

atmosphere. Lunch and dinner daily.<br />

The George 128 S. Water St.,<br />

763-2052. Waterfront dining with a<br />

diverse selection of steak, pasta, salad<br />

and fresh seafood. Dock your boat<br />

at the only dock ‘n dine restaurant<br />

downtown. Lunch and dinner Tue-Sat.,<br />

Sunday brunch.<br />

TAPAS<br />

Mariposa Tapas Bar 1502 S 3rd St,<br />

769-0763. Authentic Spanish tapas in<br />

an intimate atmosphere featuring an<br />

international wine list. Open brunch,<br />

lunch and dinner daily.<br />

The Fortunate Glass 29 S. Front<br />

St., 399-4292. A wine bar at heart,<br />

the focus is on wines from all regions,<br />

with 50 wines by the glass and 30+<br />

craft beers. Serving a small menu<br />

of fine cheeses, Italian cured meats,<br />

and decadent desserts served.<br />

Dinner Tue-Sun.<br />

Italian Fennel Sausage, Roasted<br />

Garlic and Seared Jumbo Shrimp<br />

served with fresh roasted red<br />

peppers and capers in a homemade<br />

plum tomato pomadoro sauce, with<br />

house-made pappardelle pasta.<br />

VEGAN<br />

The Green House 1427 Military Cutoff<br />

Road, 679-4994. A vegan fine dining<br />

experience serving intentionally sourced<br />

fare. Open Wed-Sun for lunch and dinner.<br />

Panacea Brewing Co. 4107 Oleander<br />

Dr., 769-5591. Laid-back eatery serving<br />

plant-based Southern fare, plus kombucha,<br />

local beers and Sunday brunch. Open<br />

Wed-Sun for lunch and dinner.<br />

Sealevel City Vegan Diner 1015 S<br />

Kerr Ave., 833-7196. Low-key, locally<br />

owned restaurant offering a global menu<br />

with lots of vegetarian/vegan options.<br />

Open Tues-Sat for lunch and dinner.<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 93

An undercurrent of nonconformity echoes bewitchingly through<br />

the culturally diverse 18th century riverside city<br />


The panoramic view from<br />

Bar Julian, the 13th-floor<br />

rooftop gathering spot of<br />

the riverfront hotel, The<br />

Thompson Savannah.<br />


in Savannah; during<br />

a recent trip I was<br />

delighted to discover<br />

that he would be able to<br />

join me for a drink while I was in town.<br />

Though my plan was to meet him at the<br />

sleek lobby bar at my hotel, The Thompson<br />

Savannah, it was a pretty evening so I<br />

texted him and suggested we meet at<br />

Bar Julian, which occupies the hotel’s<br />

sprawling 13th-floor rooftop. “I’m already<br />

here,” he texted back. “It’s fabulous.”<br />

He was right. Located just outside<br />

Savannah’s historic district, The<br />

Thompson isn’t bound by the height<br />

restrictions that keep the city’s other<br />

rooftop bars at low levels. Instead, Bar<br />

Julian offers an unobstructed 360 degree<br />

view that can be enjoyed from the bar itself<br />

or one of the outdoor patios that surround<br />

the spacious aerie. The food is amazing as<br />

well, particularly the Collaborative Pizza,<br />

a creative pie developed in partnership<br />

each month with a different local chef.<br />

Proceeds go to a local charity.<br />

After the sun had slipped behind the<br />

skyline, I headed downstairs for dinner<br />

at Fleeting, which opened in September<br />

under the direction of Chef Rob Newton,<br />

an Arkansas native who honed his skills<br />

in New York and Nashville. At Fleeting,<br />

Newton has found a way to combine flavors<br />

and textures in such a way that every<br />

element adds to the dish without losing<br />

what made it special in the first place. My<br />

grilled duck breast, fragrant with warm<br />

spices, was delicious on its own, as were<br />

the accompanying red cabbage, trumpet<br />

mushrooms and sunchokes. Together,<br />

though, their flavors – sweet, sharp,<br />

earthy and bright – raised the dish to a<br />

different level. Even my simple salad –<br />

greens dressed with oil, lemon and salt –<br />

caught the zing of the lemon and the depth<br />

of the greens’ flavor.<br />

Craft cocktails at Bar Julian.<br />

The Thompson anchors Savannah’s<br />

Eastern Wharf, a mixed-use project<br />

near the foot of Broughton Street on the<br />

eastern edge of the city. Though it seems<br />

a bit far from the action, it’s really not: I<br />

hopped onto one of the hotel’s free bikes<br />

and was at Oglethorpe Square in five<br />

minutes. There’s a free shuttle, too, which<br />

94 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

Take a carriage ride<br />

to the historic Owens-<br />

Thomas House.<br />

Savannah’s lively<br />

waterfront is lined with<br />

bars and restaurants.<br />


runs until early evening. Open since July<br />

2021, the mid-century-styled hotel has<br />

193 rooms, all of which have curvy, lowslung<br />

furniture and super comfy beds.<br />

There’s also a stunning pool and bar area.<br />

Savannah is often compared to<br />

Charleston and it’s easy to see why: less<br />

than 100 miles separates this pair of<br />

riverside city’s which are both draped in<br />

Spanish moss, criss-crossed with cobbled<br />

streets and known for their Southern charm.<br />

Jonathan Stalcup, who leads architecture<br />

and history tours through Savannah says<br />

that the similarities end there. “Savannah<br />

was laid out by James Oglethorpe, who was<br />

an Army general and it shows,” he explains.<br />

“The long, straight streets and alleys<br />

provide excellent sight lines.”<br />

But Oglethorpe was also a bit of a<br />

utopian. Arriving in 1733 with just 120<br />

settlers, he set out to create an egalitarian<br />

society where lawyers, slavery, rum<br />

Works by students and<br />

faculty of the Savannah<br />

College of Art and Design<br />

are for sale at Shop SCAD.<br />

and Catholics were all banned. The<br />

cities famous squares, which are each<br />

surrounded by a specific number of public<br />

and private buildings, were set aside as<br />

public spaces, a luxury only available to<br />

royalty in 18th-century England.<br />

Although Oglethorpe’s dream didn’t<br />

last long, a distinct undercurrent of<br />

nonconformity echoes through Savannah<br />

today: amid the bakeries and elegant<br />

boutiques (nearly all of which are<br />

independent and locally owned) are salons<br />

that offer tarot card readings, true dive<br />

bars and old-school antique markets<br />

where treasures hide under layers of dust.<br />

Don’t miss Shop SCAD, where paintings,<br />

sculpture, jewelry and other items have<br />

all been created by students and faculty<br />

members of the Savannah College of Art<br />

and Design.<br />

The best way to see Savannah is to<br />

walk the city, from elegant Forsyth Park,<br />

where roller skaters practice intricate<br />

routines to booming soul oldies, as<br />

toddlers run through the plush grass into<br />

outstretched arms, to Oglethorpe Square,<br />

where you’ll find the Owens-Thomas<br />

House. Constructed in 1819, the Regency<br />

structure is filled with fine furnishings<br />

and artwork as well as the original<br />

working cellar. Out back, a formal garden<br />

leads to the quarters of the enslaved men<br />

and women who lived and worked on the<br />

property. Guides do a remarkable and<br />

thoughtful job sharing the stories of all of<br />

the historic home’s residents.<br />

Savannah’s restaurant scene is both<br />

lively and creative. Located in a historic<br />

(and gorgeously renovated) 1897 mansion,<br />

Common Thread, opened in early 2021 to<br />

rave reviews. Like many restaurants in<br />

the region, Common Thread sources much<br />

of what it serves locally; unlike many, its<br />

menu takes a deep dive into global cuisine.<br />

Steak tartare, for example, arrives scented<br />

with five-spice and tasting of soy and spicy<br />

chili; kale kimchi adds a cheeky bite to the<br />

round flavors of an aromatic short rib and<br />

shrimp dish. Then there’s The Collins<br />

Quarter, which is known for its allday<br />

brunch, you’ll find everything from<br />

biscuits and gravy and bananas foster<br />

French toast to coconut chia pudding and<br />

other vegan delights. The elevated bistro<br />

fare that appears on the table at dinner<br />

is well worth the time it takes to make a<br />

reservation. A cone from the century-old<br />

Leopold’s Ice Cream, which opened in<br />

1919, is a perfect walking dessert, and<br />

thanks to Savannah’s open container<br />

law, you can also stroll with a cocktail,<br />

beer or glass of wine. James Oglethorpe<br />

wouldn’t approve, but it sure is fun.<br />

visitsavannah.com; thompsonhotels.com W<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 95

the last reflection<br />

Frederick Law Olmsted<br />

statue in the North<br />

Carolina Arboretum.<br />

The Living Legacy<br />

of Olmsted<br />

A 200th anniversary birthday salute<br />

to Frederick Law Olmsted<br />


(1822-1903) is the father of<br />

American landscape design. So<br />

much of his legacy is entrenched<br />

in our everyday 21st century life and its<br />

green spaces that inhabit our towns and<br />

cities that it requires peeling back the layers<br />

of time to appreciate how revolutionary<br />

Olmsted’s vision of community parks<br />

was, and just how relevant his life’s<br />

mission still is. To celebrate his life in<br />

<strong>2022</strong> the National Association of Olmsted<br />

Parks has organized a continuous 200th<br />

birthday celebration nationwide called<br />

Olmsted 200.<br />

In North Carolina, Olmsted’s landscape<br />


design firm created the walkable, treelined<br />

paths of the historic Village of<br />

Pinehurst that wind their way to the<br />

town’s center, a place for the community<br />

to gather, an important principle to<br />

Olmsted. In Asheville one of Olmsted’s<br />

final commissions was the 125,000-acre<br />

Biltmore Estate, and many regard it as his<br />

crown jewel. His vision created promise<br />

out of the deforested, barren land that<br />

the Vanderbilt family purchased around<br />

1890, producing forestry and agricultural<br />

plans in addition to fashioning gardens<br />

that would surround the future French<br />

Renaissance chateaux.<br />

Born in Hartford, CT, where his<br />

father was a successful merchant with a<br />

penchant for traveling, Olmsted tried his<br />

hand at various careers before pioneering<br />

his work as a landscape architect. He was<br />

schooled largely by ministers and briefly<br />

attended Yale. But sickness caused him to<br />

withdraw after his first semester. For the<br />

next 20 years he “gathered experiences,”<br />

which helped shape his landscape design:<br />

a year-long voyage in the China Trade,<br />

farming on Staten Island, reporting<br />

for the New York Daily Times, even at<br />

one point directing the U.S. Sanitary<br />

Commission, forerunner of the American<br />

Red Cross. In a career spanning half a<br />

century, Olmsted along with his partner<br />

Calvert Vaux designed some of the most<br />

celebrated landmarks in the U.S., ranging<br />

from Central Park in New York and the<br />

Emerald Necklace in Boston to the U.S.<br />

Capitol Grounds in Washington, D.C., and<br />

Jackson Park in Chicago.<br />

It was during a six-month walking tour<br />

in England that Olmsted took in 1850 that<br />

began to shape his thoughts of landscape<br />

and its effect on community. In Liverpool,<br />

he visited Birkenhead Park, a rare public<br />

park, that was open to all. There, Olmsted<br />

concluded that park access should be a<br />

right of all Americans. “I was struck,” he<br />

wrote, by this “democratic development<br />

of the highest significance.” This belief<br />

became the foundation of his landscape<br />

design and consulting work, a career he<br />

developed from scratch during the 19th<br />

century when the Industrial Revolution<br />

was raging.<br />

The depth of Olmsted’s creative vision<br />

and his determination to see his plans<br />

through are inspiring, and maybe<br />

even more deeply moving living near<br />

communities that thrive amidst his living<br />

legacy. In <strong>Wilmington</strong> where inland and<br />

beach community parks are an extension<br />

of our outdoor lifestyle — common ground<br />

we all share — let’s raise a glass to<br />

Olmsted in this 200th year of his birth.<br />

To learn more, olmsted200.org W<br />


96 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

SUPER<br />

HEROES<br />

with Heart<br />

<strong>2022</strong> CAPE FEAR HEART BALL<br />

05-20-22<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> Convention Center<br />

515 Nutt Street | <strong>Wilmington</strong>, NC | 28401<br />

Celebrate the American Heart Assocation’s mission to be a rentless force<br />

for a world of longer, healthier lives by joining us for an unforgettable<br />

evening featuring dinner, auctions, music, and dancing at the<br />

<strong>Wilmington</strong> Convention Center for the <strong>2022</strong> Cape Fear Heart Ball.<br />


Rick Goldbach, EVP,<br />

Director of the Carolinas,<br />

TowneBank Mortgage<br />



ashley.miller@heart.org • 910.538.9270<br />

capefearheartball.heart.org<br />

<strong>May</strong> /<strong>June</strong> <strong>2022</strong> | 97








910-535-9908 CALL OR TEXT TO SCHEDULE A TOUR<br />

98 | <strong>Wilmington</strong>NCmagazine.com

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