When they travel, Milan Mladjan and Michael Lankford look for little-known hangouts where the locals sip craft beer and tuck into pub grub. If there’s a beach nearby, so much the better.
The partners turned the tables in August when they opened their own seaside brewpub, Beach Nomad Brews.
Their new business targets diners who want a relaxed experience in a unique city setting. The downtown Rehoboth restaurant is in the former dining hall of Epworth United Methodist Church, which in 2008 relocated to Holland Glade Road off Route 1. Clear Space Theater Company is also on site.
The restaurant promotes “beach, burgers and beer,” but you’ll also find salmon, pork chops and salads on the menu. Poutine—a pile of seasoned fries and white cheese curds smothered in gravy—is an homage to Mladjan’s native Canada.
Mladjan, who came to Delaware as the winemaker at Harvest Ridge Winery in Marydel, moved to Rehoboth to be with Lankford. “The love of wine brought me here, the love of my life made me stay,” he says of Delaware.
We talked to Mladjan about Beach Nomad Brews and his switch from winemaking to beermaking. (The answers below have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.)
We wanted to appeal to an urban crowd. Everywhere across the country—across the world even—urbanization is in full swing. There’s rejuvenation in the downtown core. What do Millennials want? They want to be downtown.
Dogfish Head is the reason we opened. It’s a great tourism draw for the region now. I didn’t know anything about Rehoboth when I moved down here except for Dogfish Head. The boardwalk, the beaches—I knew nothing. I knew Dogfish Head. It’s the leader in the craft beer industry.
It’s contemporary. It’s a casual, fun space.
Beer is where wine was 10 years ago. Brewers are expanding, diversifying and pushing the envelope in terms of fermented beverage production. I love yeast—that’s the magic in it. With wine, there’s been a big contraction in what people want. The wine industry now has simplistic white blends and simplistic red blends. Whereas with beer, there are a million flavors, styles and production methods involved. That’s what is captivating me right now.
We just released our fourth beer. We’re doing small one-off batches. Each one is an experimental batch. I’m using a lot of ancient grains, including amaranth and millet. We are always going to have at least one gluten-free beer.
Yes, only Delaware craft beers. We have wine and cocktails.
Yes, we have entertainment. Our bartender Viki Dee is a rhythm-and-blues singer. She’s great. We’ll have Second Time Around, featuring the Rehoboth Foodie.
Oh, definitely! I think there is a lot of opportunities.