Grab And Go
New spots open for classic summer seafood pots
The Cape Fear region is experiencing a new wave of coastal-inspired meals to go, including from two area markets: CAPE FEAR BOIL COMPANY of Carolina Beach and TOPSAIL STEAMER of Surf City. Designed to offer convenience to both locals and visitors, these are not your typical carryout meals.
Ty Graham and Matt Khouri launched Outer Banks Boil Company in Corolla in 2012, after developing the business plan as students at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Cameron School of Business.
Now, just five years later, they have opened Cape Fear Boil Company (pictured) in Carolina Beach, specializing in in Low Country-style boils featuring shrimp, Andouille sausage, corn, potatoes, and more.
The company can bring the entire boil to customers along with all the necessary equipment, utensils, and ingredients and take care of all the setup, service, and cleanup, or pots can be picked up at the company’s retail location.
All pots are customizable, and items such as pulled pork, coleslaw, and cornbread are also available. All-you-can-eat catering and take-out prices are based on a per-person count.
Graham says that, for many, the option of having a seafood boil at home or at a beach house is preferable to taking a large group out to dinner. There’s no need for dressing up or reservations, and hosts can supply their own alcohol, something can drive up the cost of eating out.
Jack Southard of Boston worked with Cape Fear Boil Company in May to plan his sister’s graduation party.
“Planning a party from out of town can be challenging, but Ty and Matt made the whole process so easy,” Southard says. “They had every detail covered and were flexible as we made changes along the way.”
Graham describes the concept more as an alternative dining solution than a catering service.
Those spending time in Surf City this summer also now have access to steam pots to go.
For years, owner Danielle Mahon found herself spending much of her time at the family’s Surf City beach house preparing seafood dinners. She recently became a permanent resident and didn’t waste any time putting the finishing touches on her business plan.
Inspired by the number of summer beach house rentals and visitors to the area who might want to cook a seafood dinner but without all the hassle, Mahon created Topsail Steamer.
The market offers five signature pots, ranging from New England Clambakes to Low Country Boils, as well as a create-your- own option. The pots contain fresh seafood, meats, veggies, and homemade spice blends.
“There are three main things we provide: quality, convenience, and experience,” Mahon says.
Rather than having to make several stops for all the components of a homecooked meal, Topsail Steamer is one-stop shopping.
It serves local seafood whenever possible and has partnered with Sugar Island Bakery for grab-n-go desserts. All the customer needs to do is decide which pot to serve, and then take it home to cook for forty minutes. Topsail Steamer also provides a disposable pot, sheets of brown paper to serve it on, and all the condiments.
All the prep work is done ahead of time, and the cleanup is easy.
Mahon says the response so far this spring has been fantastic, and many out-of-town visitors have been taking advantage of preordering pots online to pick up on their way to the beach.
She says that while all the pots are made to order, many of the ingredients are preportioned so that customers can get in and out quickly even if they haven’t ordered in advance.
Topsail Steamer’s motto is “We’ve got the pot … you pick the spot”, with encouragement to customers to post photos of their pots on social media and share the places they’ve served them at.
“We’re thrilled that so many of our customers have responded to sharing their spots,” Mahon says, “and many of them have been getting really creative with their photos which makes it fun.”
Mahon says she hopes that, if this season goes well, she will be able to expand into neighboring markets.
To view more of photographer Erik Maasch’s work, visit ejmphotography.org.