Galveston Island's Latest Buzz

A Sweet New Addition to Strand, Pirate Island Granted Liquor License and Nautical Antiques Acquire Unique Shipment

By Esther Davis McKenna
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Galveston Island just got a little sweeter. Forever Sweet Candy Shop offers a fun new spin to the island’s downtown shopping district. Kids of all ages will enjoy the selection of classic and not-so-common sweet treats from around the world. The shop offers treats of all kinds, specializing in trending candy, in a vibrant and fun atmosphere. 

 Shop owners Shlomi Wolraich and Yaniv Noah are no strangers to island commerce. They also own three locations of the smoke, vape, and adult novelty stores Hazy Daze, and several gift shops including 10 Feet Under, Pelican Island, C-LEVEL, and LapaLapa. 

 Shoppers can expect a mixed offering of fun candies and treats, from your classics to new and trending foods you might see on TikTok or other social media. They also offer packaged candy and sodas from all over the world and fill-your-own bag options. 

 The owners plan to add a full truffle bar, Bluebell ice cream, milkshakes, and some other exciting options in the near future. Business Operations Manager Angelia Varos has worked for Wolraich and Noah for several years and grew up in Galveston. Opening their newest venture is a full-circle moment for Varos.

 “My first job was working spring and summer breaks in the exact building that houses Forever Sweet today. I was 12 years old, and it was Michael’s Sportswear and Pacific West back then.” 

 “You have got to come try the moonshine chocolates. These are not for the kiddos. We hope to eventually have the ability to serve alcohol-infused ice cream and milkshakes in the future,” Varos said. 

 Island resident Chloe Anela Knight has been named as the general manager. Knight has worked with Varos for a little over a year, learning the ropes of running a high-traffic store, and is excited to run her own space. 

 “We wanted to give back a little sweetness to the island. Galveston is our home, and it has a proven record of success with our other locations. We are excited to share this new, family-friendly venture,” Knight said. 

 Forever Sweet Candy Shop is located at 2105 Strand. The public is invited to their grand opening scheduled for Memorial Day weekend, with a soft opening the week before. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 10 am to 8 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm. For more information, call 409.443.5151. 

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Yo, Ho, Ho and a Bottle of Rum
Pirate Island Bar and Grill has acquired its liquor license and is now offering a full array of classic and craft cocktails. Their new specialty drinks, like their food menu items, are Asian-Cajun inspired and the brainchild of owner Spike Nguyen. Nguyen, a Tiki Island resident, opened Pirate Island last fall and recently received permission to sell alcohol just in time for the summer season. He has created a line of fusion cocktails that aligns with his East meets West menu. 

Guests can now choose from a full bar, including 10 different beers, domestic or foreign, with six on tap. Wine options include red, white, and sparkling. Or they can choose from one of his unique cocktail concoctions, like the Salty Lemon Seadog Mojito or the Tamarind Pirate Margarita. 

 “Spice is prevalent in both Vietnamese and local Hispanic cultures. This is something both cultures incorporate into their food and drinks. I mixed and matched different items until I came up with the perfect recipe for the cocktails,” Nguyen said. 

 The Tamarind Pirate Margarita includes tequila, honey, a house-made tamarind paste, and freshly squeezed lime and lemon juices. The glass is rimmed with Tajin and garnished with orange and tamarind fruit. 

 The Salty Lemon Seadog Mojito starts with a house-made salty lemon soda, then light Bacardi rum and muddled mint are added, and it is then garnished with a hand-crafted preserved lemon. 

 Placeholder imageThe iced coffee at Pirate Island Bar and Grill is made from Nguyen’s own secret recipe and is fast becoming island famous. His special brew is now being served in pre-packaged containers so customers can enjoy it on the go as well as in the dining rooms or outdoor patio. 

 The upstairs bar and dining room and adjacent outdoor deck are now open for daily dining and event hosting. Nguyen says the upper level can accommodate up to 250 people and is booking up quickly through the Memorial Day holiday weekend. 

 It is available for special events like birthdays, weddings, and happy hour groups. The outdoor dining area alone can accommodate 150 people, weather permitting, and offers spectacular beachfront views. 

 New menu items have been added to Pirate Island’s food offerings. To create a special twist on the ever-popular chicken wing, Nguyen combined a Cajun dry seasoning (generally used for seafood boils) with house-made, garlic-infused butter, and other Asian ingredients. 

 His Rangoon recipe combines fresh Gulf shrimp with cream cheese rather than the usual imitation Krab. “I only serve real food not imitation, and it’s always freshly made. I always use local products and never use frozen,” he said. 

 The whole menu is available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “If you are under the weather or just plain hungover, the broth of the pho will cure what ails you,” he said. A special 10 percent discount is being offered to first responders and city employees. 

 Pirate Island Bar and Grill is located at 728 Seawall Boulevard. Hours of operation are from 8 am to 10 pm daily and Friday and Saturday from 8 am to 2 am - serving food until 1 am. For more information, call 409.539.5001. 

Placeholder imagePieces of Ship
Adrienne and Michael Culpepper may have opened Nautical Antiques & Tropical Décor close to a quarter of a century ago, but they display new and unique inventory every day. 

 A new shipment of items from the Indonesian island of Java has been unpacked and is on display, including wood carvings, home accessories, and items salvaged from old ships. 

 The inventory of furniture is made from reclaimed boat wood. “When the boats are no longer usable for fishing, artists design reclaimed wood into furniture. The pieces are very unique and fit in with what we like to offer our customers,” Michael said. 

 New inventory of home decor, like hand-carved birds, fish, and turtles that are made from exotic woods, are showcased throughout the shop. A special cargo of custom plates and crockery is also on display. 

 These plates were used on shipping lines and the names of the companies were embossed or glazed into the crockery itself. These specialized plates are anywhere from 30 to 50 years old. 

 “This is the type of crockery we are always looking for, although it is getting harder to find. Back in the day, shipping vessels used real stoneware. These plates were used by the actual crew. Nowadays, they use unbreakables and throwaways,” Michael said.

 “Occasionally we will acquire some things off cruise ships that are used by passengers but that is the exception rather than the rule.” 

 The Culpeppers are Galveston residents who met while attending Texas A&M University in 1998. The store closes for the month of November each year when they travel the world’s largest ship-breaking yards in India, Bangladesh, and Turkey to find cool “pieces of ship,” Adrienne said. 

 “Our customers include set designers for the film industry, interior designers, restaurants, and folks looking to deck out their beach homes,” she said. 

 The couple originally opened in January 2000 at 621 23rd Street, at the corner of Winnie. Hurricane Ike destroyed that building in 2008 and it is no longer there, Adrienne said. “We moved to our current location at 22nd and Mechanic in 2009 and rebuilt from there.” 

 Michael comes from a family of entrepreneurs. His dad’s family owned and operated a successful barbeque restaurant in South Florida, then started a “super niche,” custom knife business that is still run by his brother today. His mom owned and operated a custom shell accessory business while raising three boys. 

Online shoppers can visit to view the hundreds of items that are in inventory, complete with dimensions and prices. “Dimensions are important because we ship a lot of items,” Adrienne said. 

 “Customers can use the dimensions and weights to estimate shipping costs. We ship items as small as three-inch glass net floats to 900-pound anchors and everything in between.” 

 “In general, we invite folks to check out the store or the website, or both,” Adrienne said. “We have customers all over the world but cater to Galveston. As our friend Tom Schwenk says, ‘When you’re lucky enough to live on the island, you’re lucky enough.’” 

 Nautical Antiques & Tropical Décor is located at 2202 Ships Mechanic Row. Operating hours are Thursday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm. For more information, call 409.539.5469.