The Perfect Pairing

by | Jun 12, 2023 | Art & Culture, Bars, Business

The Locals Art Gallery & Wine Bar in Surf City is a new place to appreciate the finer things in life.

Surf City’s newest art gallery also happens to be its newest wine bar. Adam and Alicia Hawley opened The Locals Art Gallery and Wine Bar in Surf City in April of 2023. But don’t let the name fool you — it’s an all-inclusive space.

“We thought it would be funny to call it Locals because nobody’s local anymore, even though we all claim to be,” Adam says.

The sleek new spot provides a destination for a vast collection of wines, North Carolina craft beers, community events and local art. Nothing else like it existed in the area — an area that Adam saw as having great potential.

“We kind of jumped all in,” he says. “This area is booming. It’s like our little Mayfaire (a shopping district in Wilmington).”

Art Gallery Surf City NC

Currently, The Locals establishment is surrounded by a handful of boutique shops and restaurants, a coffee shop and a nail salon, and a distillery is coming soon. Additionally, a high-end apartment complex is under construction across the street. It’s the perfect location to drop in for a mimosa during a day of shopping or to grab a glass of wine or beer before or after dinner.

Adam designed The Locals Art Gallery and Wine Bar from top to bottom.

From the beautiful and cozy bar to the leather barstools and, of course, the art on the walls, he expertly managed every detail.

“I was probably a little more hands-on than I really needed to be, but I wanted it to be right,” he says. “I wanted a true art gallery because I know so many artists who are always looking for somewhere to display and sell their work.”

Locals Wine Bar Front Rendering

The Hawleys, longtime Topsail residents, also own the Unique Media and Design firm that specializes in real estate photography and virtual tours. When Adam is not shooting properties around the state — and the world — he is a professional artist himself, capturing coastal landscapes and creating long-exposure pieces that freeze time. His passion for art helped drive this latest endeavor. But he didn’t want this to be “his gallery.”

The artwork selected for display at The Locals must be original and exclusive to the gallery.

There are some photography prints, but they are limited copies. To get started, Adam approached artists he knew or whose work he was familiar with. He’s hoping to attract other local artists as well (apply through the website).

Adam is trying to work collectively with artists to give them the most beneficial exposure. That means not oversaturating the wall space with the same theme at one time.

Art at Locals Wine and Art Surf City NC

“If I’ve got a great picture of the pier already on display, I don’t necessarily want to put another one out at the same time, so I’ll hold one back until the next rotation. This way, we aren’t really competing against each other,” he says.

Meanwhile, the beverage options at The Locals are eclectic.

The Locals boasts an impressive selection of wine, including a wide variety of wines by the glass. Some of their current offerings include Eric Louis Sauvignon Blanc from France and The Seeker Sauvignon Blanc, an Argentina variety sure to rival any one from New Zealand. They’re also serving Besson Rose Granite, Joe Wagner’s Quilt Threadcount, Patz & Hall Chardonnay and Caymus Cabernet.

“Our goal is to have a extensive variety of wines from all over the world. Some you might know and some you don’t. We want to get you to try something different which will become your new favorite!” Alicia says.
As for the beer, they carry a rotating selection of local and North Carolina craft beers, including their own private-label beers.

“Going into the summer, we’ve partnered with a local brewer to private label beers that we’ll sell at our location,” Adam says. “We’ll feature four different beers that will have our logo on it and range in styles.” They will also carry some domestic as well as nonalcoholic drinks.

Locals Art Gallery Surf City NC

The Hawleys plan to host events like their recent Kentucky Derby DIY Fascinator Hat Party hosted by La Crema Wines. The gallery is also available to rent for private events including Christmas parties, baby showers, company events and birthday and engagement parties.

Philanthropy is an important part of the Hawleys’ business model. Adam often donates some of his own artwork to local charities including the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, The Reel Housewives of Topsail Island annual bike ride, the Paddle 4 Troops SUP race and Share the Table. “Last year, my prints brought organizations $15,000 worth of donations,” Adam says.

Throughout the summer, the gallery will offer a portion of the sales from each of their private-label beers to rotating charities. “As we promote the different beers to support local organizations, it’s a great opportunity to get the rest of the community involved,” Adam says.

For the Hawleys, The Locals Art Gallery and Wine Bar is about creating a unique space that has something for everybody and where people feel comfortable and connected.

Want to go?
The Locals Art Gallery and Wine Bar
112 Charlie Medlin Drive, Unit B, behind the Salty Turtle in Surf City
(910) 803-2046
Hours:Monday to Thursday 10 am to 9 pm
Friday and Saturday 10 am to 10 pm
Sunday 12 to 5 pm

About the author

Melissa Slaven Warren

Melissa Slaven Warren

Melissa Slaven Warren is a freelance writer who lives in Southeastern North Carolina. She earned her BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and is currently pursuing her Masters in Liberal Studies from UNCW. She’s been a freelance business writer, feature article author, non-fiction essayist, technical editor, entrepreneur, product and brand manager. Her work has appeared in Our State magazine and she is a regular contributor to local publications. In her spare time Melissa enjoys water sports and coastal living with her husband Bill and 110 lb. rescue dog, aptly named Bear. Visit her website at