You have to see this new bar in Wilmington to believe it. The Sorrow Drowner opens this weekend and we got an exclusive tour.

Transport yourself to the Southern Seas in the Sorrow Drowner's Tiki attraction
Published: Mar. 17, 2022 at 3:33 PM EDT
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There’s no where like it in Wilmington, and while the outside it looks like not much has changed since the old “TheaterNOW” building was purchased by the Wheatley brothers once you open the front door you’re transported to an American Tiki culture paradise.

The colorful displays that adorn the main dining room have been carefully curated by the team of former Disney artists. It’s like a feast for your eyes that you could spend a good hour looking at, and yet you’d still miss some of the small details.

The concept is truly a dinning experience. The cocktail menu is extensive with hand pressed juices, and even dole whip. The whole attraction is interactive and your waitstaff will be in character for your entire meal.

The Sorrow Drowner is absolutely something you need to see for yourself, and after two years of hard work they are finally opening their doors this weekend. Unfortunately, there are no more open reservations available for this weekend, but if you call you might be able to snag a reservation for an upcoming weekend show.

The entertaining story of the dinning experience according to their press release:

Once you cross the threshold, you will be transported into the classic era of Exploration. The Lemurian Institute, a global leader in history and exploration, led by its founder, Edward Bartholomew Wheatley the Third, have assembled a team of the finest adventurers and scholars from around the globe. What happens behind the doors of the Institute has been a question for decades; however, as the old saying goes, “When the Machairodus Kabir is away, the Indefatigable Galapagos Mice will play!”

Enter ‘The Sorrow Drowners’!

This rag-tag group of individuals, nicknamed for their near nightly revelries, keep the Institute running while the Board of Directors are out exploring! Many of these acolytes pine to be in the field but have yet to pay their dues. Instead, they stay behind to research and catalogue the variety of artifacts sent home by the Institute’s elite expedition teams and partners worldwide. Due to all the doldrums of lab work, an informal vote was taken and the Sorrow Drowners have decided to open the doors of the Institute to all of YOU! (Truth be told, it’s mostly because they’d prefer the chance to speak to someone that isn’t 2000 years old.) Just don’t tell E.B.!

Once inside, you will be welcomed with open arms into “The Grand Marae”, the meeting hall in the Institute typically used for lectures, but sans supervision the dais has been co-opted into a space for members and a variety of entertainers to perform! Books and notes have been pushed into corners to make room for you in the Library and you have been granted access to the secretive Director E.B. Wheatley III’s office to view his personal collection. Most importantly, they saved you a seat at the bar as they serve up drinks a tad bit stronger than Lemonade!

So prepare yourself, The Sorrow Drowners welcome you!

Owned and operated by The Lemurian Institute, Inc., wholly owned by North Carolina Natives the Wheatley Family and designed by former Disney Imagineer Brandon Kleyla, aka Trader Brandon, whose resume includes attractions worldwide and is perhaps best known for his work on both Trader Sam’s Tiki Bars in Anaheim, Ca and Orlando, Fl. You will want to spend hours here just looking at all the artifacts from around the world and to allow yourself to get lost in the story.

“People love being able to escape, to get lost in an experience, and that’s what we’re doing here,” says Brandon. “We’re stepping out of the framework of a traditional Tiki bar and delivering a much larger experience, set in the golden age of adventure. The age of Earhart, Bingham, Carter, and Byrd.”

“My whole life, I was always on the hunt for adventure! I haven’t climbed Mount Everest or Walked the Plains of the Serengeti, but when I couldn’t there were movies that could,” says Alfred Brian Wheatley, proprietor of the Sorrow Drowner. “It was in these films that I found myself enthralled and, when presented with the opportunity to create this experience, it was these films that guided my hand. It is my wish to bring a space permeated with that sense of adventure to Wilmington.”

The Sorrow Drowner will feature a large menu of classic craft cocktails from classic tiki faire to drinks from around the world as well as a menu of island favorites. Select Evenings, the stage will come alive with a Vaudeville Style Revue featuring a variety of acts as well as an interactive cast of wandering comedic characters. Our hope is to provide the city of Wilmington and Coastal North Carolina with an ever-changing experience that you’ll want to visit again and again!