Located in Wilmington, NC, PinPoint Restaurant serves food deeply rooted in tradition and foodways. Chef Dean Neff’s menu changes daily and features local seasonal offerings from Wilmington’s farmers, fishermen, oystermen, and crabbers as much as possible.
The restaurant opened in the spring of 2015 in the heart of downtown Wilmington, just a block from the Cape Fear River. In 2016, the restaurant was named among the best new restaurants in the South by Southern Living Magazine and was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate in 2018.
Dean Neff, Executive Chef and Owner
Dean discovered his love of cooking at a young age while cooking at a small bed and breakfast on Tybee Island near Savannah. After graduating from high school, he went to the School of Culinary Arts in Atlanta to gain a formal culinary education while working in the Atlanta restaurant scene. After completion of the Culinary Arts program and after two years of working with the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, Dean took the Sous Chef position at the newly opened 5&10 restaurant in Athens, GA owned by Chef Hugh Acheson.
During this time Dean played an integral role in all aspects of the restaurant as it gained national acclaim and quickly became one of the best restaurants in the Southeast. While maintaining his position at 5&10, he also earned his B.B.A in Marketing from Terry College of Business at UGA. Dean assisted Hugh with his first cookbook “A New Turn in the South” and in his opening of Empire State South in Atlanta. He was promoted to Executive Chef of 5&10 in 2011.
Dean left in 2013 to help Chef John Fleer open the highly acclaimed Rhubarb of Asheville, NC.
In 2015, he moved to Wilmington, NC to open PinPoint with longtime friend Jeff Duckworth and fiancee Lydia Clopton, pastry chef. The restaurant has quickly become an active and significant part of the local culinary community and hosts Sunday Suppers to benefit charities and donates to a number of events and fundraisers. The restaurant was named Best Fine Dining Restaurant by Wilmington magazine and Best New Southern Restaurants by Southern Living in 2016.
Jeff Duckworth, Front of the House Manager and Owner
After a 10-year stint in the music business that included time spent working with heroes ranging from Willie Nelson to Ben Harper to Widespread Panic, Jeff took a career turn into the restaurant business. He joined forces with a dear friend, and began opening Bojangles’ franchises in the metro Atlanta area. After 11 years, five restaurants, thousands of loyal customers, and over $50,000,000 in chicken and biscuits sold, it was time to do something else. Jeff’s love of great food, drink, and hospitality pulled him to partner up with Dean Neff and create an upscale community restaurant in Downtown Wilmington.
Lydia Clopton, Pastry Chef
Lydia was born in Ecuador but grew up near Atlanta, GA. In 2007, after graduating with a degree in Biology from the University of Georgia and an A.A. from Emory at Oxford, she decided to pursue her passion for baking on a professional level. She began working as part of the pastry team for Hugh Acheson’s award-winning restaurant 5&10 in Athens, GA. She spent three years as part of 5&10’s pastry team and developed important foundational skills and learned the importance of quality ingredients. She then moved on to become head baker at a small bakery in Athens called Ike & Jane. Here she developed and refined her cake and wedding cake skills. She moved to Asheville, NC, after two years at the bakery and was on Katie Button’s opening team for Nightbell. Here she had the opportunity to use her science and culinary backgrounds together to create desserts using modern techniques. She also made “Aunt Lydia’s Pies” for Elliott Moss’s pop-up restaurant The Thunderbird while in Asheville along with running her own specialty wedding cake business. In 2015, she moved to Wilmington, NC, to open PinPoint Restaurant with her fiancé Dean Neff. She recently was featured with other notable North Carolina chefs for a celebration of North Carolina ingredients at the famed James Beard House in New York. She is opening a bakery and cafe “Love, Lydia” Summer 2018.