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John and Susan Hitt at one of our many gorgeous beaches in NC. Courtesy John Hitt


As encore’s staff worked to get last week’s paper to press, news broke that all restaurants and bars in North Carolina were to be closed to dine-in customers. We watched as the people who would be directly affected by this closure both advocated for and criticized the shutdown.

Nobody knew what to do. “Do we stay open and try delivery and takeout, or hunker down until this passes?” It was the question almost every business owner in Wilmington began asking.

And that included us at encore.

You might have noticed you’re not reading this letter in print. Last week’s issue was the last printed edition for the foreseeable future. Since 1985 encore has missed only two publication dates: The week of Hurricane Fran in 1996 and this one. I don’t think anyone working at encore during Fran thought the next hiatus would be 24 years later during a viral pandemic.  But here we are.

It doesn’t make much sense to print a paper when the vast majority of our pickup spots are closed or at a deeply reduced capacity. Plus, businesses aren’t spending money on advertising right now, and encore relies on advertising to fund our work. Add to that folks aren’t keen on touching things they don’t need to touch in public—well, you get the drift.

Don’t mistake this message for us shuttering or stopping our work, dear readers. We will continue to do a weekly flip-through edition, just like in print, which you can access every Wednesday morning at We also will continue to update information constantly on our website at More so, our social media presence has amped up to keep folks informed of noteworthy PSAs, business announcements and so forth (you can follow us @encorepub on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram). To that end, if you have an announcement to get out to readers, we’ll do our best to help you. Just email our editor Shea Carver at




For all businesses currently reading this: Thank you for everything you bring to Wilmington. Thank you for taking the risk to close, if that was the best decision for you and your staff. For those staying open out of necessity and need, we applaud you, too. Everyone’s situation is different. Hard decisions have been made that none of us thought we would have to make until the last two weeks.

The encore staff and freelancers have proven time and again they’re willing to fight through adversity, just as so many of you are doing now. They’re fighting to keep you informed or at least entertained, even though they’re painfully aware their jobs aren’t as secure as they were a month ago. I thank them for their willingness to preserve the publication we’ve helped build, along with all editors, publishers and freelancers who came before us.

To all businesses who would like a little help during this transition, encore is trying to help. We do a half-price gift certificate program at that’s become our most popular way to help businesses allocate ads at really inexpensive prices. Simultaneously, it builds a tight-knit community of shoppers, diners and customers who put importance on utilizing localized services. Normally, the program is pure trade for ads; currently, we have opened it as a COVID-19 Relief Program. Basically, we will split the profit with every business that signs up for it. What does that mean? Readers, you can still buy half-price gift certificates at to be used either now or at a later date (depending on each business’s stipulation). That also means you are putting money directly into business’ pockets now. They get half the cash and the other half as advertising credit to use either now or in the future, depending on their needs. If your business is interested in learning more, please, email me at We welcome the opportunity to work with you.

On a personal note, in my letter last week, I mentioned my wife had been sick with symptoms associated with the coronavirus. Many of you reached out to express concern. We are grateful. Thank you. I’m happy to report she’s doing much better today. We are so thankful. To date, she still hasn’t been tested—a headline we’re seeing on repeat 10 days later. You’re all painfully aware folks who aren’t high-risk with symptoms won’t be able to be tested until more test kits are made.  Please, take all necessary precautions to keep yourselves safe.

I hope all of us in the Cape Fear feel better soon, in health, spirit and business. We’ll get back on our feet somehow because we know how to take care of each other. We’re experts. Isn’t that what all these hurricanes have taught us in years past?

Until next week, stay safe. Stay #WilmingtonStrong.

John Hitt

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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