Wilmington, Brunswick County restaurants renovate for post-pandemic

It isn’t unusual for local restaurants to take time in the slower winter months to close for renovations and repairs.

But this January and February, some changes are taking on added significance for chefs and restaurateurs. 

There are promising signs that business is improving. In North Carolina, Gov. Roy Cooper announced the easing of restrictions for restaurants and bars last week as cases of COVID-19 decline. And across the county, restaurant sales are projected to climb more than 10% this year, according to the National Restaurant Association.

It isn’t quite enough to cover from the pandemic, though, the group said. Instead, 2021 will be a year of transition and rebuilding for the industry. In these cases, that’s in a literal and not just figurative sense. 

The Pepperoni Grill at the Beach in Oak Island is renovating to allow for increased production and add a backyard dining space. [ALLISON BALLARD/STARNEWS]

Pepperoni Grill at the Beach in Oak Island, for example, closed in early January to expand its production capabilities. 

“The kitchen was already small,” said Ian Hunting, who owns the restaurant and Pepperoni Grill at Boiling Spring Lakes with brother-in-law Scott Seigler.

When indoor dining was restricted in 2020, the kitchen and prep space gradually expanded into other areas of the restaurant.