Nikki's opens in Carolina Beach
August 28, 2012By Liz Biro
Sans happy customers and stripped of its family ties, Mama Mia’s was a sad shell of its former Italian self after the Carolina Beach restaurant closed earlier this year. Patrons won’t recognize the space when it reopens this week as Nikki’s Gourmet & Sushi Bar.
Nikki’s owner, Johnny Chen, purchased and revamped the 6 S. Lake Park Blvd. spot, where Chen said he plans a free open house featuring food and drink 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30.
Forget looking for Mama Mia’s old homey, white front, complete with lace curtains in the windows. Chen replaced the facade with slick stone and modern picture windows.
Inside the 50-seat dining room, sleek, black Parsons-style chairs play against the red ceiling and sleek sushi bar. Another 45 seats are available on the patio.
Nikki’s menu will be similar to lists at Chen’s downtown, Independence Mall and Racine Center locations, but Chen said that at Carolina Beach, he’ll emphasize vegetarian options and sandwiches, including cheeseburgers and black bean burgers.
“Healthy, for the beach,” Chen said.
He’ll craft sushi and sashimi behind the bar Thursday.
Carolina Beach’s Nikki’s is Chen’s sixth store. Four others are in Wilmington; one is in Surf City. Chen said he is eyeing the Waterford/Leland area for his next unit, but plans must wait until the Carolina Beach store takes off.
The new Nikki’s includes a full bar and year-round hours, which Chen said will run 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.