Enterprise on the Half Shell

Mike and Joan Wiemers are trying out fresh seafood in Fletcher.
Photo by Matt Rose

To say Mike Wiemers has a variety of tastes would be an understatement. The Hendersonville resident owns three totally different restaurants in Western North Carolina.

The former food-industry executive moved to the area four years ago when he bought the Huddle House in Asheville. He also owns Dickie’s BBQ in Flat Rock and, with his wife Joan, recently opened Surf N Brew Oyster Bar in Fletcher.

Wiemers, who was on the corporate side for about 14 years and was the senior vice president of operations for Huddle Houses nationwide, got into the restaurant business in high school. At age 17 he opened his first place, Campus Country Restaurant in Booneville, Mississippi. But despite all his experience, opening a seafood restaurant in the mountains is a fresh challenge.

You owned a restaurant as a teenager — how did that happen?
I just fell into the deal. A lady had a restaurant that was vacant and wanted someone to partner up. I’d been working in restaurants in high school and knew that if I paid a dollar for something, I needed to sell it for three. I didn’t know anything else about food cost. I put the menu together. I cut my own steaks, patted my own hamburgers, cut my own French fries. I hired an old retired fireman who helped me develop a lot of the seafood recipes, and some of them we’re still using today.

Why an oyster place in the mountains?
When I moved to the Hendersonville-Asheville area I began talking to customers at the Huddle House about food. Everyone said I needed to open up a seafood restaurant and that there was no fresh-seafood place around here. We’d been talking about it for the last four years and I was finally able to find the spot to do it.

How fresh is your fresh seafood? 
We get fresh deliveries in six times a week. It just depends on what we need. When we get our oysters they have been out of the water for less than 72 hours. That’s about as fresh as you can get. We can’t always get a catch of the day. Sometimes I don’t know until 3 o’clock the day before what I’m going to get because it’s coming straight off the docks.

How do you like to eat your oysters?
My favorite is our chargrill oysters. We do a Cajun oyster with our garlic butter and we put some bacon on it and cheddar-jack cheese on that. We serve it when it’s nice and bubbly. Holy cow. When you get garlic butter and bacon together it’s great. I’ve had people that won’t eat an oyster and tried those chargrilled oysters and said, “Wow, what have I been missing?”

It’s called Surf N Brew — are you making your own beers?
We’re working with a beer company to do an Oyster Stout for us, and that should be coming soon. We have 24 beers on tap and most are local and regional craft beers.

Surf N Brew Oyster Bar is open 11am-10pm Monday though Saturday and from noon to 10pm on Sunday. I235 St Johns Road, Suite 10, in Fletcher. For more information, call 828-376-3705.

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