The Boltzes have built a far-flung following
Being a go-to restaurant for seafood in a coastal community is no small feat, but it’s the status Fish Bites has held for twelve years.
Tucked behind some gas pumps in a small strip mall on Carolina Beach Road, the restaurant can be easy to pass. Yet, diners from near and far flock to Fish Bites for its great food and cozy atmosphere.
“We offer top-quality seafood, expertly prepared with great service in a comfortable and casual location,” says CATHY BOLTZ, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband DONNIE. “We are so fortunate and blessed to have the support of our community, which is ever-expanding.”
The couple started the restaurant in 2009 in the middle of the recession. Though it was difficult, the Boltzes refused to give up.
They remained committed to their mission to offer quality seafood to diners, a goal they felt served the community as well as themselves. To achieve that goal, they combined their talents.
Donnie had been a commercial fisherman and seafood distributor, and he had expertise in seafood and other food preparation as well. Cathy’s skills made her the perfect candidate to run the front of the house and be the restaurant’s general manager.
It is one of the few restaurants to break down and fillet its fish in-house, Cathy Boltz says. To ensure customers know how fresh the seafood is, the restaurant also offers the same quality raw seafood to customers from its seafood market.
“We are not just a restaurant,” Cathy Boltz says. “We are vertically integrated in that we not only catch and source our food, we also prepare and serve it.”
Just a few of the restaurant’s popular dishes include chef-created daily specials, shrimp bombs, homemade soups and chowders, fish and chips, seafood po’boys, and pastas with Donnie Boltz’s original sauces.
Then there’s his award-winning seafood mac and cheese, Stump Sound oysters and clams, Dungeness crab legs, live Maine lobsters, and local shrimp. Donnie Boltz’s home-made cheesecakes and coconut angel food cake are also perennial hits.
Another part of Fish Bite’s appeal is its family atmosphere. The staff, as well as the Boltzes, have genuine regard for the restaurant’s customers and like to get to know them personally.
“It’s a really great feeling when we get a package of phenomenal cheeses from guests from Wisconsin with a note saying we were the hit of their vacation or when we are asked to cater or attend a wedding from a couple who had their first date at Fish Bites,” Cathy Boltz says.
Over the years, more and more people discovered Fish Bites, friends told friends about it, and the restaurant’s reputation steadily grew.
Now, Fish Bites is a destination for those seeking great seafood.
The Boltzes have plans for expanding, but the pandemic put them on hold. Meanwhile, they are taking precautions to provide a safe and comfortable setting for those who want to dine with them.
They are also doing an enormous amount of take-out business, though it’s not the Boltzes’ preferred way to serve their food.
“Even with the challenges presented by COVID, we’re blessed to have the support of the community,” Cathy Boltz says. “Even in these trying times, we will continue to offer the best we can provide.”
The Boltzes’ passion for serving the best seafood is as strong as ever, as is their desire to serve their community.
“When we walk into our restaurant and see a full house with people enjoying our food and hospitality,” Cathy Boltz says, “it is so rewarding to know that with all the restaurants there are in Wilmington, they chose us for a great experience.”
To view more of photographer Michael Cline Spencer’s work, go to michaelclinephoto.com.
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