John Andrews, Owner | South Beach Grill
Five Minutes with John Andrews, South Beach Grill:
“If there is a barometer of success on the beach, it is how you keep customers during the off-season. We are so well supported locally.“
When we were shutdown for five months after Hurricane Florence, we saw the evidence of how loved this restaurant is by Wrightsville Beach residents. While we were cleaning up, people would bring lunch, or they would stop by with coffee. One lady brought a broom and wanted to help us clear the debris. I couldn’t make this up.
Hurricane Florence and #ILMSTRONG
We weren’t blindsided by the storm, but we were hit much harder than we expected. We didn’t expect nearly the amount of damage that the building incurred. The integrity of the roof completely failed. The A/C, the HFAC, and the hood venting fixtures all came loose or were damaged in some way. We came back to a flooded restaurant.
Everyone wanted to know what they could do to help, how they could support the restaurant while we got back to business. It was a cathartic process. But it was also a humbling process, coming through the aftermath.
About 80% of our staff were able to come back. We were able to help transition them while we were closed, and any business owner in an area that is susceptible to weather disasters, should have business disruption insurance. I can’t stress that enough.
On the coast, being in a storm-centric area, business interruption insurance saved us. We kept people on payroll. We rebuilt. We are back.
I’m very thankful for a lot of things, and a lot of people that made reopening possible. We are back in business, and we are so busy, I can’t even put numbers to it yet. Every day is busier than the day before.
The theme we had prior to the storm, and that we have currently, is a good theme: Southern-inspired. We are not a dyed-in-the-wool Southern cooking restaurant, but we definitely take inspiration for our local cuisine.
Not that South Beach
When we opened in 1997, Wrightsville Beach was characterized by the north end, and the south end. The south end was the surfers, the cottages, the people who were more mainstream. The north end was the second homes, the mega-mansions, very high-end real estate. Our name – South Beach Grill – reflected our ability to blend in with the south end of the island.
The Miami connection wasn’t even thought of until people started commenting about it. We get asked on occasion if we have a Florida theme, but we are very much Wrightsville Beach.
Southern Food Fresh From the Ocean
Our menu is Southern-inspired, highlighting the indigenous food sources. We are really committed to that. We list the majority of our ingredients on the menu or our chalkboard, and where they come from. To the best of our ability, we buy fresh and local, so we serve what is available at the market. We can hit a golf ball to the ocean; there isn’t a reason we shouldn’t be using the freshest local seafood at all times. The market dictates what is and isn’t available. Not all year round, but for the most part, we do a very good job.
Food Lover and Master of Hospitality
I’m not a cook, my background is in business. I was a marketing major in college, but I worked my way through school waiting tables. Then, I worked in a cubicle in Manhattan, and I absolutely hated it. I was crawling out of my skin with a desire to be out working with people. I’m a people-person. So I went back to what it is that gave me the most enjoyment. That was hospitality.
I was blessed to meet the right person in 1996 who agreed to be the equity in the equation, and I would be the sweat. That began South Beach Grill. Without his checkbook and my skills, South Beach would never have come to fruition.
More than a lifetime in restaurant longevity
We’ve been open since 1997. In any business, that would be a lifetime. In the restaurant business, that’s incredible.
The secret is our commitment to believing that we are only as good as our last meal. That sounds like a tagline, but it’s the attitude from our dishwasher all the way through to management. We all embrace it. Knowing that our guests are the only reason we have a paycheck is absolutely imperative.
Being in a tourist destination is a blessing, but it also comes at a cost. We have to recommit ourselves at the end of every season to do our very best to maintain the standards we kept in place while we were busy, knowing we are not going to be busy.
Hop on over for Easter weekend
Good Friday + seafood, it’s a natural fit. We have seating available all weekend, so people should come and say hello.
Check out the menu at South Beach Grill and find the restaurant just over the bridge for an authentic Wrightsville Beach experience.