Eat Up, Ye Hearty

Owner Jill Brown and staff of Yacht Basin Eatery dress up as pirates Friday through Sunday each October. Courtesy photo

Owner Jill Brown and staff of Yacht Basin Eatery dress up as pirates Friday through Sunday each October. Courtesy photo

For the past few years, Yacht Basin Eatery has embodied the storied past of the Atlantic coast each October in one unique way: Every Friday through Sunday, the staff dresses up like pirates.

“Well, I heard somewhere that October is National Pirate Month—although I haven’t been able to find any documentation about it,” owner Jill Brown remarks with a laugh. “But any opportunity I have to dress up like a wench, I embrace.”

Yacht Basin Eatery opened on August 20th, 2011 under the leadership of Brown and her father, Giuseppi Bellio, and chef Billy Wilkins. “Billy and I are actually childhood friends,” Brown notes. “We’ve been friends since the 6th grade.”

Hailing from New Jersey, the crew ventured out specifically to open a restaurant. “I scouted the East Coast looking for waterfront commercial property that I could afford to buy,” Brown recalls. “Southport was the last place I looked, and I just absolutely fell in love with the town. I bought the property without ever looking inside the building or anything. I actually left and went home to New Jersey and made the offer. I didn’t look at it again until after we closed. It worked out fine—it was a lot of work, but I just knew that’s what I wanted and did it.”

Brown, originally a registered critical-care nurse, purchased the property in October 2010. Yet she had early experience in the restaurant business, and Wilkins shared plenty of back-of-the-house knowledge.

Yacht Basin Eatery’s tagline is “all-day comfort food.” It fits, as diners will find everything from deli sandwiches and cheesesteaks to pizzas, veal parmesan and more. “We bake all of our own bread,” Brown affirms. “Everything is made in-house: sauces, dressings, desserts.”

Fresh is the mantra of Yacht Basin Eatery, as even the sauces are made to order. Shrimp and oysters are direct out of the sea. “They don’t come out of a bag and into a fryer and onto a roll,” Brown quips.

Recently the owners added brunch to the Saturday and Sunday line-up, starting at 9 a.m. Football specials reign this season, with the “Brunswick County Combo” offering six beers and 12 wings for $18.

It’s all in an effort to serve customers year-round in 2013. “We closed last year because it was a perfect storm. We lost so much money from [the filming of ‘Safe Haven’],” Brown details, as the movie closed off part of the yacht basin area for work. “We went from doing 300 covers a day to under 70. And then the flooding in the Yacht Basin in the fall—we were just bleeding money. We had no choice. The goal this year is to stay open through the winter.”

Yacht Basin Eatery is located at 122 Yacht Basin Dr. in Southport, where folks can catch the pirates each weekend in October. For more info, call (910) 363-4108.

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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine