For many locals and second-home owners at the beach, Crust & Craft has been a hidden gem. You can find regular customers sipping craft beer, poured by smiling bartender Katie Sherman, and watching their hand-crafted pizza cook in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven. Once a month, some even gather for Sunday Brunch Club, tap takeovers and music by DJ Zip.
When news broke that SoDel Concepts—a Rehoboth Beach-based hospitality group—had purchased the restaurant from founder Brenton Wallace in February, some frequenters were understandably nervous for impending changes. Judging by the return of the beloved Brunch Club on Sunday, March 17—beginning at 11 a.m.—they needn’t worry.
SoDel Concepts has kept the staff, including Sherman who is now the general manager, and brought in some of its own team, including Chef Nina Maddox, formerly of Lupo Italian Kitchen in Rehoboth Beach.
We talked to SoDel Concepts employees Matt Patton, director of operations, and corporate chef Chris Parks about what customers can expect as the season grows near.
(The answers below have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)
Photos by Pamela Aquilani
MP: Crust & Craft has been a successful restaurant for three years—and one of my personal favorites. We will be opening for lunch and dinner seven days a week pretty soon, but otherwise, you should expect the same great experience that you had before the sale.
CP: The menu is already solid. As we get comfortable, we will add a pasta or two and maybe a wood-fired steak to the menu.
MP: Katie Sherman has developed an awesome beer program at Crust & Craft that focuses on rare and local beers and world-class imports. She already had one of the best selections in the area, so I don’t have much work to do on that front. We’re going to add another eight draft lines in the next month, which will bring us to 14. It will allow us to expand the draft list and focus the bottle/can list on hard-to-find, barrel-aged, sour and other unique beers. We are also running another session of our certified beer server training course to build on the knowledge that the staff already has.
CP: We retained all the kitchen staff, and we have been really impressed with their skill level and dedication. Steelton Fisher just won the first “Shining Star” award here, but it was tough to choose just one employee. [Shining Star is a company-wide employee recognition program.] Nina Maddox was my sous chef at Lupo, and we are all excited that she took the opportunity to become the head chef here at Crust & Craft.
Photo by Pamela Aquilani
MP: Mike Z. conducted a staff training last week focused the current wine list, and he has his eye on a few additions to the list. We’ll probably add and subtract a couple of bottles before the summer gets into full swing.
MP: As a frequent guest of the brunch club, it never crossed my mind not to keep that event going. The food is always incredible, the drinks are amazing, and the DJ keeps things lively but still family-friendly. This Sunday, we will serve all the old favorites like the chicken and waffles with Calabrian chili honey and the Wakey Wakey pizza. Chef Chris is going to make some Irish stout pancakes. Katie scored a keg of Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout and Mispillion War Llama will be our requisite green beer option.
MP: Our next brunch will be on March 21. Sometime around the beginning of April, we will start serving lunch and dinner seven days a week, so you’ll be able to get your pizza fix anytime. On May 9, we have a huge event for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Mike Zygmonski is running for Man of the Year. [Man and Woman of the Year is philanthropic competition to support blood cancer research. Candidates form teams and compete in honor of two local children who are blood cancer survivors.] Six of our restaurants will provide a dish that we’ll pair with Woodford Bourbon.
We are excited to continue the work of the team at Crust & Craft, make delicious traditional wood-fired pizzas, serve fun drinks and offer great service. There is an awesome group of people here and a loyal guest following that we are committed to keeping happy.