A trip to Hawaii provided inspiration to bring fresh poke bowls and more to Wilmington.
Local chef and The Bento Box owner Lee Grossman knew the area was ready for a restaurant serving the “freshest, healthiest food prepared like it is on the islands.” Now, he's bringing Pipeline Poke to Autumn Hall.
To help develop the vision for Pipeline, Grossman worked with longtime friends and associates, Adrian Kugatow and Paul Pinto. Together, the business partners are creating “a space where friends and families, surfers and those who love the power and beauty of our oceans and outdoors can enjoy delicious food,” Pinto said.
The owners felt like the Autumn Hall location chose them. “When the developers learned chef Lee was working with partners on a new, completely distinct concept restaurant, they wanted Pipeline Poke to be part of their vision,” Pinto said.
The Autumn Hall location will be the new brand's first, but Grossman added they expect to open another in an undetermined location by 2023. "Our vision is to share our passion for family and good food prepared in a responsible way on a national scale," Grossman said. Pipeline Poke has been designed to challenge perceptions of a casual dining experience, he said.
At 1,600 square feet, the space will seat 60 and includes a dining room, outdoor patio and firepit. The menu offers salmon-, tuna- and chicken-based bowls as well as vegetarian options. Toppings include tobiko, furikake and togaroshi with 10 choices of sauces. Poke will be available in a bowl, roll or a plate. Sides include jasmine rice with furikake and seaweed, macaroni and crab salads.
Acai bowls filled with fresh tropical fruit and blood orange, pistachio and passion fruit mochis and more are available for those looking for something sweet.
To add to its laid-back island vibe, the menu includes a range of craft beers and wine. Top sous chef at The Bento Box, Zac Zaytoun, has been recruited as an owner-operator and will be responsible for restaurant operations. Grossman will continue to maintain his focus on The Bento Box, Pinto said.
Making an impact in the area is especially important to Grossman. With every order of poke sold, Pipeline will make a donation to the nonprofit Surfers Healing. “The organization’s mission is to enrich the lives of people living with autism by exposing them to the unique experience of surfing,” he said. “We’ve teamed up with the organization so all our customers can make a difference as well.”
With construction planning to wrap up by this month, Pipeline Poke aims to open in September at 102 Autumn Hall Drive, Suite 130.