Seashore State Park kicks off summer

Officials unveil new Big Chill Beach Club
May 18, 2017

State officials kicked off the summer season at Delaware's beaches May 16 with a sneak peek at the new Big Chill Beach Club restaurant at Delaware Seashore State Park.

Officials applauded the public-private partnership that offers visitors a new full-service restaurant built above the park's existing bathhouse.

“I've always felt that the top of the Indian River bridge has the best view in all of the state of Delaware,” said Gov. John Carney. “And I'm told that this little cabana up here will have just as good a view once it gets completed. This is as good as it gets.”

The more than $1 million project may be the largest public-private partnership involving Delaware's parks system, Carney said.

Big Chill Beach Club will feature a 36-foot-wide umbrella over an outdoor bar, outside dining, an oyster bar and event space, as well as a 360-degree view of the Atlantic Ocean, Indian River Inlet and Indian River Bay. It will seat more than 200 people when completed.

“I always think of Delaware Tourism as leading the way for us,” said Josh Grapski, a managing partner with La Vida Hospitality Group, which will operate Big Chill. “We view this as us working with the state parks to enhance an experience that's already pretty great here at the Seashore State Park. We already know tons of people are coming here. We hope to be an additional amenity to the park that people can enjoy.”

Grapski said Big Chill will offer a variety of traditional boardwalk food, seafood and SoCal-inspired tacos, and employ about 50 people. He said the restaurant should be open by the end of May.

Delaware Tourism Director Linda Parkowski also showed off the state's new tourism commercials and highlighted dark blue beach umbrellas featuring logos from Delaware State Parks and Visit Delaware, which will be available to rent at Delaware Seashore State Park.

Parkowski said in the last decade, visitation to Delaware has brought in an extra $1.6 million, boosting the state's $3 billion tourism industry.

“Our efforts are all geared to showing people that 'wow' factor,” she said, highlighting the Endless Discoveries tourism rebranding effort launched in 2015.

In recent years, Delaware State Parks has worked more closely with the tourism office, said Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens, which has proven vital to catering to the needs of the parks' 5 million annual visitors.

“Small business is key to helping us meet our mission and fulfill those duties,” Bivens said. “This benefit to the park is going to be huge.”