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New Cocktail Lounge The Vibe Planned In Cotton Exchange

By Elizabeth White, posted Apr 20, 2022
Renovation work to expose brick walls at 312 Nutt Street is underway to prepare for The Vibe Music and Cocktail Lounge. (Photo courtesy of The Vibe)
The Vibe Music and Cocktail Lounge looks to bring more diverse music and drink options to downtown Wilmington. Owners Robin and Bobby Brown are currently renovating a 1,600-square-foot space at The Cotton Exchange and anticipate opening around early summer.

They hope to offer an atmosphere reminiscent of the Roaring '20s and '30s but with a modern flair. 

The Browns love that Wilmington combines coastal and city elements along with a vibrant nightlife. Most nightclubs in the area tend to cater to a younger, college crowd, they said.

The Vibe will focus more on a more mature crowd, or those looking for an exciting but less overwhelming option. “I want to bring these people together, and with a few drinks in their system, let loose and enjoy each other's company,” Robin Brown said. 

When choosing where to locate their bar, The Cotton Exchange had a large appeal to the Browns from the start.

From its beginning as a saloon in the 1800s, The Cotton Exchange has played an important role in Wilmington’s history. “First and foremost, we wanted to be in a space where the owners shared a common interest and excitement about what we wanted to create,” Brown said. “Cheryl Hartsoe, general manager of The Cotton Exchange, has been nothing short of supportive of this endeavor, and from the moment we met her, we knew we wanted to work with her.”

The team plans to bring the space back to its original roots. The building’s age has brought some challenges in the renovation process, but Brown notes that most of the demo work is done, and soundproofing of the interior is up next. Previously home to an escape room, the team is working to upgrade the interior at 312 Nutt St. to highlight a welcoming and historic feel. 

The space is limited to a 50-person capacity. “This will allow us to have a comfortable and intimate lounge setting without being crowded,” Brown said. 

In addition to the location, the Browns seek to create a unique experience through their menu.

They are working with a bar manager to bring the classics, while also creating a reputation for specialty cocktails. The Vibe will offer a variety of hard-to-find bourbons as well as specialty bourbon cocktails.

As to what type of music to expect, “That's an easier question to ask than it is to answer,” Brown said. The owners are “die-hard music aficionados,” and “are not looking to have a specific genre represent them.”

Currently, the Browns are on the lookout for artists that can play a range of anything from the blues, jazz, rock, folk and soul. Their future hopeful plans include live music every night. 
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