Like Haley and the Sugrues, serial entrepreneurs have helped fuel growth along the coast.
Restaurant veteran and London native Alison Blyth—a founder of LaLa Land in 1988 and Yum Yum Pan-Asian Bistro in 1997—has two restaurants: Go Fish! in downtown Rehoboth and the more casual Go Brit! Fish + Chips on Del. 1.
Caputo resurrected the old Rose & Crown in Lewes in 2012—at least in spirit (the location in the Hotel Rodney is down the street from the original Rose & Crown, now Jerry’s Seafood). This summer he will open Flying A, a barbecue and crab restaurant, with partner David Dietz, owner of the BBC Tavern in Greenville. (The name is taken from the Flying A products once produced by the Tidewater Oil Co. The location, next to Catcher’s restaurant, was once a gas station.) Caputo, a James Beard Award nominee, also plans on opening a water ice stand on the property. (He still has Espuma.)
Haley seems to be opening a restaurant a year, and when he’s not, he’s improving existing spots. Northeast Seafood Kitchen in Ocean View—which follows the formula of creative seafood at fair prices—recently added 2,000 square feet to its restaurant, including additional kitchen room for chef Ronnie Burkle, who is smoking sausages and making jams, pickles and other items for all the Matt Haley Cos.
A taste for creative food has grown to encompass creative beer. Popular Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats in Rehoboth—the tavern of juggernaut Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in Milton—purchased the old Finbar on Rehoboth Avenue and the Vesuvio Motel in Lewes. Mum’s the word on what will go into Finbar. “We’ve been trying really hard not to get in front of ourselves on the new Rehoboth space,” says Dogfish vice president Mariah Calagione. “That said, it’s been fun batting ideas around with Sam” (her husband, who started the restaurant and brewery in 1996).
Then there are the owners who just can’t stay away from the business. After selling Eden, Stitt took time off before briefly owning a restaurant in Millsboro. He and partner Matt Sprenkle have owned Shorebreak Lodge on Wilmington Avenue since 2012. The atmosphere is fun and low-key. “Within the last five years, I’ve really seen that scene change from fine dining to more casual as people are going out more,” Stitt says.