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Real Estate - Commercial

Drift Coffee, Butcher's Market And Burrito Shak To Expand Into Porters Neck

By Emma Dill, posted Nov 1, 2023
A rendering shows a new commercial building proposed for Porters Neck. (Image courtesy of Frank Smith)
Drift Coffee, The Butcher’s Market and Burrito Shak have plans to expand their reach into a growing part of northern New Hanover County. 

The three businesses will become the first tenants in a nearly 9,000-square-foot commercial building in the works in Porters Neck. Plans for the building are set to go before New Hanover County’s Technical Review Committee later this month.

The new building will be located in Porters Neck Center, a shopping area that’s home to a Food Lion, Jersey Mike’s Subs, K38 Baja Grill, a Holiday Inn Express and Bridgewater Wines+Dines.

Jeff Young is working to develop the three-unit commercial building on a 1.3-acre tract at 188 Porters Neck Road. Young said his parents purchased the land several years ago but held off on development until they could find the right tenant mix. They purchased the site in 2016 for $825,000, according to property records. 

“It was just finding the right candidates for this neighborhood,” Young said.

After securing the tenants, Young is now moving forward with the site’s development. The plans, which will go before New Hanover County leaders on Nov. 15, call for an 8,845-square-foot building that’s divided into three shell spaces.

Drift Coffee is set to occupy the 3,120-square-foot unit that’s closest to Market Street, according to Young. 

The Porters Neck cafe will offer customers a larger-format, sit-down version of Drift Coffee that’s similar to its Wrightsville Beach and Hanover Center locations, said Michael Powell, who co-owns Drift Coffee with his brother, Ben Powell.

Porters Neck has always been part of the company’s “roadmap” for new locations, Michael Powell said. Data from Drift’s loyalty program shows many of its customers travel from northern parts of New Hanover County to visit its current locations, he said.

“They travel from the northern part of Wilmington to our Mayfaire store and Wrightsville Beach, so we felt it made sense to get closer to them and be able to service them in the neighborhoods that they're in,” Michael Powell said.

The sit-down cafe model also aligns with the demographics of Porters Neck and helps fill a gap in the area.

“There’s a bit more of a leisure demographic there,” Michael Powell said about Porters Neck. “People with time on their hands and resources to spend on something that's a little bit nicer. We see that the weekend breakfast and social scene is really wants a place to call home up there.”

The middle unit will be occupied by The Butcher’s Market, a Raleigh-based company that broke into the Wilmington market last year with a store near the intersection of South College Road and Oleander Drive.

Opening a second Wilmington location has always been part of the company’s plans, said Jeff Gregory, director of operations support for The Butcher’s Market.

“We’ve known all along that one store in Wilmington just isn't enough,” Gregory said. “It's very hard to manage one location, especially so far from where we all are up in Raleigh.”

The new location will have a similar size and the same look and feel as the Wilmington store. 

The meat and specialty goods business aims to compete with grocery stores and other businesses that offer pre-made meals and specialty meats, said Mike Murrill, the Wilmington store's general manager. 

The business aims to capitalize on continued growth in the Porters Neck area.

“We see the growth that is booming up and down the Market Street corridor heading towards I-140, and it's just going to continue to grow,” Murrill said. “It puts us in a really good spot for our short-term and for long-term growth.”

Hampstead-based Burrito Shak plans to open its second corporate location in the remaining unit, said owner David Longo. The Porters Neck location will be managed and overseen by Longo and his wife. Other locations throughout North Carolina, besides the one in Hampstead, are operated as franchises, Longo said.

Growing into Porters Neck will allow Longo to continue operating the nearby Hampstead restaurant, he said.

“Being able to operate multiple locations efficiently and effectively obviously played a role in our locations,” Longo said. “I was born in Wilmington, so having a store Wilmington has definitely always been a goal.”

As the plans move ahead, an exact timeline has yet to be determined. But Young said he hopes to start clear-cutting the site later this month and aims to open the commercial building next fall. Frank Smith with Smith2 Architecture + Design is the project's architect and McKinley Building Corporation will be the general contractor.

The new building represents an uptick in growth in Porters Neck, according to Young.

“I've personally been watching this area for almost 50 years, [when] there was nothing on Market Street,” Young said. “I just saw that the potential for Figure Eight, this whole area, is gonna explode, which it has.” 
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