Port City restaurant community still growing

Click here to read article Star News - by Liz Biro
While restaurateurs nationwide are being hit with and further bracing for an economic downturn, Wilmington's dining market continues to grow.
Here, mainstay Ken's Bagels and Deli (5906 Oldeander Drive) has brought its homemade bagels to a second location, this one at Hanover Center (Oleander Drive at Independence Boulevard), and as well, several new Cape Fear restaurants have opened in recent weeks. When Kenneth Fourie and his wife, Michele, purchased Ken's three years ago, they knew little about baked goods beyond the carb loading that Ken did as a professional rugby player for 10 years. The couple met while at college in their native South Africa, where Ken played for the Natal Sharks and Michele worked as a teacher. From there, the pair moved to England, with Ken landing a position with the Cardiff Blues in Wales. America was a pending destination, and the Fouries decided to come here after Michele watched episodes of Dawson's Creek. "We were planning just a vacation here, and I thought I needed to research and find out where the show is from because it looks so pretty," she says. "And we came here, and it was just wonderful." When they discovered Ken's was for sale, they took the bagel shop's name as a good sign and bought the place. Original owner Ken Carlough, who had always made the store's bagels from scratch, gave the Fouries an intensive baking course, and within weeks, they were at the ovens. Today, the Fouries no longer work in the bakery, but their staff continues to turn out 19 varieties of bagels that rival those served in New York's best bagel shops. Look for the old Ken's menu at the new store along with sandwiches like The Sicilian (Black Forest ham, tomato, basil cream cheese, spinach and Havarti) and the Carolina Classic (lettuce, tomato, turkey, slaw and Havarti). South of the Border & More Several new Mexican restaurants are offering varied cuisine throughout the Cape Fear region. Among the most interesting is Island Fresh Mex Grill (Racine Commons, 260 Racine Drive). Build your own burrito or try one of the restaurant's quirky combinations. The Jerk is stuffed with Jamaican jerk chicken, sweet rice and pineapple salsa. The Philly packs grilled steak, onions and peppers. Check out the menu at www.islandsfreshmexgrill.com. Classic Mexican favorites are served at Restaurante Mexicano Plaza Mariachi in University Centre next to Petco (326 South College Road), as well as in Leland at the new La Costa (318 Village Road Northeast) and San Filipe (1114 New Pointe Blvd.). Also visitwww.sanfelipeinc.com. Farther south in Shallotte, Italian food is served at Piccolo Milano Pizza & Restaurant (5051-10 Main St.). And south of Monkey Junction, at the new Harris Teeter shopping center, American food is on the menu at the new PT's Old Fashioned Grille. Sweet tooths can get their fix at Coastal Cupcakes (www.coastal cupcakes.com), a new bakery at the old Stone Ground Baking Company (129 Princess St.). Business partners Meredith Sullivan and Kristen Beckmeyer, who met while earning business degrees at UNC Wilmington, both took jobs in the sports industry before reuniting to open the shop. Flavors range from key lime to mint chocolate to red velvet with cream cheese frosting. E-mail restaurant news to Liz.Biro@starnewsonline.com