New Businesses in North Brunswick County 2014
Meet the people behind the region’s new and expanding businesses and find out why they chose Brunswick County.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jason Hudson & Ethan Sigmon
Throughout 2014 a number of Brunswick County residents took a chance and made an investment in their community by opening or expanding a business. It’s no small thing to take the financial and personal risk associated with entrepreneurship, especially coming so close on the heels of one of the worst economic climates in generations.
We could offer up guesses as to what inspired these men, women and families to hang their shingles and open their doors to customers, but truths like these are always best told by those in the thick of the action. We asked the owners of numerous businesses born in 2014 why Brunswick County was the right place and why this was the right time. As varied as their answers are, it all comes down to one common thread: Brunswick County is a great place to live and work, and when these folks saw the chance to make it an even better place, they took a leap of faith and contributed to the community.
Little more than a decade ago, Leland, and much of Brunswick County for that matter, was an afterthought; when folks discovered the Cape Fear Region and moved here, they looked at Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach and Pleasure Island. Then something happened. The low taxes, plentiful land and gorgeous beaches of Brunswick County appeared on the real estate radar, and the county exploded. Communities popped up where once only cow pastures or wide swaths of piney woods stood, and a new crop sprouted from the ground: homes, bearing the fruit of new residents. Jordan Built Homes has been part of that growth from the start.
In 1989 owner Mike Jordan began building semi-custom and custom homes for newcomers to the region and established a reputation for value, top-notch service and innovation. Look around and you’ll see the fingerprint of Jordan Built Homes everywhere. Some of the area’s most attractive homes are from Jordan Built, in communities like River Bluffs in Castle Hayne; Autumn Hall, Landfall and Mason Harbour Yacht Club in Wilmington; and Brunswick Forest right here in Leland.
Though every community and every homeowner brings their own aesthetic to the drawing board, Jordan Built Homes’ take on coastal homes makes stylish modern living a reality. By paying attention to clients’ needs and customizing homes with details like gourmet kitchens, cabinets and shelves built to client specifications, and a number of upgrades throughout the home, Jordan Built creates a space where homeowners can entertain to their heart’s content while also providing places for more intimate, quiet, day-to-day living.
When a new client works with Jordan Built Homes, they go through a collaborative process to determine the fixtures and finishes, form and function of their new home. Jordan Built gives them the opportunity to create their dream home by offering customization options at every step. In addition to kitchens and wet bars, clients can opt for upgraded outdoor spaces or master baths, or even more low-key (but high-function) upgrades like tankless water heaters.
Meineke Car Care Center of Leland
104 Woodland Drive (across from First Baptist Church on Village Road), Leland (910) 769-2824
Ready for a surprising fact? The average work commute in Brunswick County is only 22 minutes. That’s not long, but that probably doesn’t include the retirees (with their kitchen-to-the-home-office commute of one minute) or the folks who sit in the construction traffic on 74. No matter who that stat includes, everyone in Brunswick County needs to take care of their car. That’s where the family-operated Meineke Car Care Center of Leland comes in.
Dr. David Sink, his wife, Martha, and their son Matthew own and operate the Meineke Car Care Center of Leland. As one of more than 900 Meineke franchises worldwide, the Sinks follow the Meineke principles — “Right Service, Right Price”—to a “T.”
“Oh, that means we provide quality products and workmanship at a fair price,” says Dr. Sink. “It also means we repair vehicles correctly the first time.”
But the Sinks go one step further.
“We also guide our business according to the Four Way Test of Rotary Clubs. One, Is it the truth? Two, Is it fair to all concerned? Three, Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Four, Will it be beneficial to all concerned?” he says.
With an approach like that, it’s hard to go wrong.
At the Leland Meineke, the list of services is exhaustive. In the six work bays, the certified technicians service brake and exhaust systems, steering and suspension systems, air conditioners, tire balance and rotation, new tires, wheel alignment, state inspections and too much more to list. This makes them a one-stop shop for most maintenance and repair work, and that’s why Sink says they take particular pride in their waiting room.
“There are two TVs, free WiFi, a daily paper, a selection of current magazines and snacks like coffee, chocolate and muffins,” he says. “I provide rides for customers who drop off their cars and my wife makes cupcakes. Our son, he’s the one with 16 years of experience in the auto industry, so we leave the work to him.”
8951 Ocean Highway, Leland (910) 383-1270
Willoughbys serves up cold drinks, hot wings and good times. No doubt you’ve driven past this watering hole a hundred times without giving it much thought. That’s because in its previous incarnation, Willoughbys was a biker bar and the sort of place where you might not want to stop. But that changed in April 2014, when Tom Miller took over the space and gave it a much-needed makeover, inside and out.
Now, instead of a plain whitewashed building surrounded by an overgrown lawn, customers are greeted by a manicured lawn, a food truck, an outdoor area perfect for whiling away the afternoon and, of course, friendly folks inside.
Willoughbys features a rotating lineup of entertainment and events including musicians, comedians, karaoke and weekly trivia. The musical acts are varied and include jazz acts, steel drum bands, up-and-coming country artists like C.C. Martin and a number of other acts to keep your toes tapping. Trivia night features prizes for each round.
On Sundays during football season, Willoughbys is the place to stop. With wing specials, draft beer and cocktail specials, and four TVs airing games, football fans are finding this is where they want to be.
In addition to those wings, Willoughbys serves a small but tasty menu out of its food truck, a full-service catering trailer parked right outside. Burgers, killer hotdogs, their famous grouper Reuben, fried shrimp and the usual assortment of bar snacks — mozzarella sticks, fries and jalapeno poppers, to name a few — all come out of the truck piping hot and ready to devour.
The outdoor space at Willoughbys is one of the big improvements Miller made to the place. A welcoming lawn with benches, chairs and fire pits offers plenty of place to hang out, and a set of lawn games —bean bag toss and giant Jenga — give you or your little ones something to do besides sit back and relax.
Wine and Design Leland
503 Olde Waterford Way, Suite 27, Leland (910) 679-4750
Wine and Design opened in Leland in early December 2014, just in time for the holiday rush and to bring a little merriment to holiday get togethers. At this creative business, groups gather for classes in which participants create paintings to take home, all while enjoying a little wine or any other beverage of choice. It’s a fun concept, and at every class a good time is had by all.
“You bring your food and beverage of choice and we provide everything you need to create your masterpiece,” says managing partner Kathleen Dunnigan. “I mean everything. You get the canvas you’ll take home with you; we have paint, brushes and aprons to use; we have corkscrews, cups and plates. We have it all.”
Classes are led by professional artists and are typically two hours long, and they’re more than just a chance to sip some wine and chat with friends. They’re what Dunnigan calls “a fun, creative outlet.”
“Our instructors are all artists in their own right,” she says. “They do an outstanding job of working with customers of all skill levels. It doesn’t matter if you think you can’t draw a straight line, we walk you through your painting step-by-step and at the end of the night, you’ll leave with something you love.”
Wine and Design opened in Wilmington’s Landfall center four years ago. Dunnigan’s mother, Claudia Wooten-Outlaw, purchased the business three years ago. Since so many of her loyal customers were Brunswick County residents who made the trip into Wilmington for a fun, artsy evening, she decided that “we wanted to be a part of the great, growing area that is Brunswick County.”
Wine and Design Leland is not just for oenophiles. They also host birthday parties, kids’ art camps, summer camps and just about any sort of celebration you have in mind. And they can even bring the party to you, provided you have room enough and wine enough for everyone in your group.
Gratale Law, PLLC
503 Olde Waterford Way, Suite 201, Leland (910) 202-6929
gratalelaw.comShe’s certainly right; as the population continues to grow the need for her services grows alongside it.
Fair representation in court means more than just expertise and experience. Gratale prides herself on the personal touch. She makes herself available to clients and keeps her caseload at the level where every case can be a priority.
“The benefit of being a small firm is that each individual case is given my full and undivided attention,” she says. “My clients aren’t just a case number, they’re real people with real problems, and my goal is to advise and counsel my clients at all stages of their cases.”
Having practiced law solely in Brunswick County, both in her own practice and for several years with another firm, she’s seen her share of court time on all sides of her practice.
“I provide legal representation in the area of criminal defense and have handled thousands of traffic tickets, driving while impaired cases, and all types of misdemeanor and felony offenses ranging from drug crimes to theft-related charges and violent assaults,” she says. “It’s my job to help people get that second chance and move forward in their lives.”
Sometimes that second chance is what people need to set their life on the right track. She says that clients “are often very scared and unsure about their options.”
“I try to give them an honest assessment of their situation and, most importantly, begin discussing solutions to work through their problems,” Gratale says.
Additionally, she handles personal injury cases. Here, she says, she can “make a real difference for those who have been injured by the fault of someone else and deserve compensation for those injuries…. For instance, if they have medical bills, lost wages and property damage, I work to make sure they are compensated for those damages.”
With Gratale’s passion for justice and fairness, her knowledge and expertise of the law and the courtroom and her love of Brunswick County, she’s a welcome addition to the community.
“There’s a great opportunity in Brunswick County for new businesses,” says Elizabeth Gratale of Gratale Law, PLLC, a criminal defense and personal injury law firm that relocated
to Leland from Bolivia in August.
2013 Olde Regent Way, Unit 110, Leland (910) 769-4900
“We saw there wasn’t a Mediterranean restaurant in the area and we wanted to add variety,” he says.
Sensing that opportunity then moving to open Gusto Grille, a Mediterranean restaurant with a distinct Turkish bend, Dogan has added a much-needed bit of ethnic variety to the dining options in northern Brunswick County.
For those unfamiliar with Turkish cuisine, it’s similar to Greek food.
“The majority of Greek dishes are based on Turkish cuisine,” Dogan says. “We offer beef and lamb doner — that’s a gyro — and other dishes.”
Kebabs, Turkish-style pizza, pita boats, moussaka, baba ghanoush, falafel and hummus round out their Turkish offerings, and a few items more familiar to the American palate — Philly cheese steaks, burgers and sandwiches — round out the menu. One thing bears pointing out: Everything is made from scratch.
“We offer scratch-made, all-natural food made with the freshest ingredients,” says Dogan. “No additives, preservatives or taste enhancers, just simple ingredients. Every day, we make our flatbread fresh so we put the best food out for our customers.”
Gusto Grille drew its name from the dictionary definition of gusto: hearty or keen enjoyment as in eating or drinking. That’s why Dogan uses family recipes but isn’t afraid to stretch out and modify, tweak and play with those recipes to find the best tasting food.
Though Dogan says Gusto Grille has several special items on the menu, he says the doner (gyro) and kofte (Turkish meat patties) are especially good. The kitchen has an authentic vertical grille that cooks their mixture of beef and lamb — “no fillers, no fancy stuff,” Dogan points out — to perfection.
When you’re ready for something sweet, you must try the baklava.
“My mom used to make baklava for holidays, and we would be very excited for that crunchy, juicy, sweet wonder,” Dogan says. “The smell of it while it was baking kept us around the house rather than out chasing the soccer ball with friends two blocks away. We try to keep to the original recipe and now our restaurant smells like home when we bake a new batch; it makes us remember those good old days.”
While there are some gems on the Leland-area restaurant scene, there’s not much by way of ethnic food. That’s what motivated Turk Dogan to open Gusto Grille in April 2014.
Austin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
2001 S. Baxter Dr., Brunswick Forest, Leland
As Brunswick County continues to grow into its own identity, more and more businesses open that allow residents to stay on this side of the bridge. When Austin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery (AOMS) opened in February 2014, they added their name to the growing list of medical providers in and around Leland.
Owned and operated by Dr. Mark C. Austin, AOMS provides a full scope of oral and maxillofacial surgery to clients of all ages. What does that mean? Well, some of the reasons patients visit AOMS include dental implants, wisdom teeth removal, tooth extractions, pre-prosthetic surgery, oral pathology, orthognathic surgery, cone beam imaging and facial trauma. Dr. Austin also provides a variety of facial cosmetic procedures like Botox and Juvederm.
“We are the only oral and maxillofacial surgery practice in Brunswick County,” says Dr. Austin.
Dr. Austin has seven years of experience as senior attending physician at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, specializing in facial trauma and reconstruction. He’s performed thousands of procedures, and both he and his staff are well versed in the issues they help resolve at AOMS. As a board-certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon, Austin has perfected his procedural skills as well as his bedside manner. Combine this with an outstanding staff and a state-of-the-art facility, and you have a practice you can trust to the best care possible.
Dr. Austin is not one to do a thing partway, as you can see from the four full ironman races and 10 half-ironman races he’s completed. He makes an effort to keep both his knowledge and skill set at the leading edge of the oral and maxillofacial surgery field. Whether it’s a facial cosmetic procedure to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, the replacement of missing teeth or a tooth extraction, Austin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery can serve your needs on this side of the bridge.
Coastal Tanning Zone
2013 Olde Regent Way, Waterford Plaza,Suite 130, Leland
coastaltanningzone.com“Leland needed an upscale tanning salon that had more to offer than just basic tanning beds,”
says Lexi Bridge. So that’s why she opened Coastal Tanning Zone in April 2014.
Coastal Tanning Zone, or CTZ, as they call it, delivers on that promise of an upscale tanning salon. Bridge and her staff work hard to ensure that their clients have an outstanding experience and receive the therapeutic benefits too.
“Our customers come to us for a variety of services that help benefit their appearance,” she says. “Whether it’s tanner skin, a whiter smile or a really good facial, we have it all right here for them.”
CTZ has a number of tanning options. For UV tanning, they offer three levels—10-, 12- and 15-minute beds—plus Versa Spa Spray Tanning and Airbrush Spray Tanning, both of which are perfect for base color or a season-long tan. CTZ also offers Red Light Therapy, a skin-tightening and rejuvenating system that’s becoming more and more popular, and the Hydration Station, a moisturizing steam capsule for deep skin moisturization. Teeth whitening is on their list of services, and in their esthetician’s room you can get a facial and more.
“When I was coming up with a name for the salon, I wanted something that would make people feel like they were in a totally different place,” says Bridge. “I wanted them to feel ‘in the zone,’ and I certainly wanted them to feel that warm, coastal vibe, hence Coastal Tanning Zone.”
Tideline Home Fashions
1007 Evangeline Drive, Brunswick Forest (adjacent to Jordan Built Homes), Leland (910) 383-9909
“Our two stores are the only ones that sell fabric on the roll in Brunswick County,” says Sally Blevins. “We stock more than 1,000 bolts of fabric in our Shallotte store and 400 in the new Brunswick Forest location.”
But Tideline is more than just fabric, as Blevins is quick to point out. They also reupholster just about anything; make and install custom window treatments along with Solar shades, blinds, and shutters; and create custom bedding. Oh, and if that’s not enough, there’s also their own custom-made furniture line.
“Our customers come to us because they want something special, something custom made for them,” says Blevins. “They don’t want to have their home look like everyone else’s; they want to make an original statement.”
Tideline, a family-owned business, has helped thousands of clients make their original statements in every room of the house, thanks to the decorating expertise of Sally, Todd and Alex. The entire team at Tideline stays current on trends in home decor and design and they offer that creative eye to every customer who comes in looking for custom decoration help.
“We have two types of customers,” Blevins says. “First, we have customers who are looking for fabric and are going to do their own projects. We also have customers who are looking for someone to help them find the right fabrics and styles to bring their dreams for their home into reality.”
In May 2014 Tideline Home Fashions popped up in Brunswick Forest alongside other spring blooms, bringing the established Shallotte business to the northern end of the county.
Tideline’s showroom of fabric by the roll, window treatments, bedding and other home décor items is a welcome addition.