Matt Kern and wife Karen are the new owners of One Coastal, the Fenwick Island restaurant founded by Scott and Carlie Carey. The successful eatery was an extension of the Careys’ farm in Frankford, where Carlie grew up.
Kern, an avid fisherman, respected the founders’ mission. “Out of the many restaurants in Sussex County, few are really farm-to-table,” he says. “This place already has such a loyal following, and we have similar interests.”
Like most restaurateurs, the Careys were impacted by the pandemic and staffing shortages. They decided to sell, and mutual friends connected the couples. At the time, Kern, who’d found fame at Heirloom in Lewes, was looking to move to a large city to pursue new options.
Kern met with the Careys before the restaurant hit the market. Then, in August, he became the executive chef to ease into the transition. “We had to keep it secret for a while and wait on the liquor license and so forth,” Kern explains. “Once we were in, we were all in.”
Kern plans to purchase whatever the Careys have available on their farm, and he will use other farms, including East View Farms in Frankford, which just started growing mushrooms, and Baywater Farms in Salisbury, Md. “We’re trying to build on these relationships,” he says. “I can’t’ wait until farmers markets open up down here.”
The Bethlehem, Pa., native has been a semifinalist for a James Beard Foundation Award two times. The awards are the culinary equivalent to the Oscars. Before Heirloom, he worked at Salt Air and the Blue Moon, both in Rehoboth Beach.
One Coastal was closed in January for an update and will reopen the first week of February with its new owners.
101 Coastal Hwy., Fenwick Island, 537-4790
Related: How 5 Delaware Chefs and Restaurateurs Got Through the Pandemic