by Donna Byrd
I suppose that I have been by the Surf City ‘50’s style restaurant, “Island Delights,” more times than I can count since I moved to Sneads Ferry about five years ago. Each time I drove by, except during the winter months when it’s closed for the season, I’d look over at the happy, bright yellow building and think to myself, “I’d sure like to check out that place but there are so many cars there and people coming in and out that I’ll have to try again later. Whatever they have, it must be good!”
Well, Monday was my day! I was driving by and saw only three cars out front and decided I’d give Island Delights a try. I couldn’t let the vacationers have all the fun around here!
I got out of my car and immediately, heard a bit of song on a gust of wind. “Sherry” by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons blared out from the sound system, setting the mood for a retro good time. My mood automatically lifted a few notches as Frankie soothed my soul. I looked up into the deep blue sky, shielding my eyes from the bright sunlight and saw the American flag and pirate flags on top of the building, flapping in the stiff breeze. Any establishment that loved America and stood by Topsail’s pirate heritage was alright by me!
Walking into Island Delights was like entering a ‘50’s and 60’s fun museum/diner. My eyes were assaulted by colorful memorabilia of days gone by. There were at least two, old fashioned jukeboxes with records; the real deal! Life size cutouts of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and comic book characters, Betty Boop, Archie and Jughead smiled down at me from their places of honor on the wall. A mystical Merlin the Magician, in his purple velvet robe looking down at his crystal ball, was in his wooden box office, open for business, available to tell your fortune for a quarter. There was a splendid, old as the hills, red Coca Cola drink machine near the ice cream counter. Boy, did that machine bring back some memories! An iced down, co’cola in a little green tinged bottle, back in the day, was one of the best treats in life!
Before I could even get up to the counter, I was greeted by a cheerful server, Ginger. She and Samantha were taking orders as customers walked in. “Do you want one of our specialty sandwiches, salads or sides or do you want ice cream?
Did I want a quarter pound, freshly patted (never frozen) burger and fries? Of course I did! Did I want a luscious strawberry shake or one of their twenty-two flavors of hand dipped ice creams on a salted caramel cone? Of course I did! Boy, before I opened my mouth to answer them, I had to get a grip on myself. I noticed on the walls, there were large words of delightful things; Cotton Candy, Candy Apples, PopCorn, SnowBalls….all written in neon lights to remind me: This was a place of Island Delights.
As much as I wanted it all, I stuck with the cheeseburger and fries. I also ordered a large orangeade. As I stated in an earlier blog, the merit of a restaurant is measured by how good it’s orangeades are. As for the ice cream and other delights, I would have to wait for another time to try those. I was trying to maintain my diet!
While waiting for my order, I took a few pictures of other people’s orders; good looking corn dogs, french fries with a brown gravy dripping all over them, thick burgers and big onion rings. They all looked like amazing works of food art. I also reminded myself that when folks are on vacation, they’re not necessarily maintaining a diet. They’re having fun and eating everything their hearts desire! Oh, I wish I were on vacation!
I spoke with Ginger and she told me that Island Delights had been in Surf City for twenty-four years. Family owned and operated by Lacy and Weston Atkinson, Island Delights has become a favorite eating place and according to a Google review, a “quaint pit stop” for casual dining and treats. Folks that remember coming to the Surf City restaurant as children are now bringing their children and grandchildren to make beach memories. I know for a fact that good food is directly connected to the memories I made with my family at the beach!
Samantha came out from the kitchen with my cheeseburger. It was made exactly as I had ordered, with mustard, chili and extra pickles. A nice pile of crisp, golden fries was stacked by its side. An Island Delight fit for a queen, or a king, a tourist or a local! Next time I drive by, I’ll pull in for ice cream!
Island Delights is located at:
316 N. New River Drive, Surf City, NC 28445
Sunday – Thursday, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, 11:00 a.m. – 9:30 p.m.