Megan and Joseph Churchman have always wanted to open their own restaurant.
“When we started dating, one of the first things we related to was food,” Megan said. “This has been tied to our relationship from the beginning.”
The couple, who have been married three years but have known each other since they were 13, is about to make that dream a reality when they open The Bramble and Brine House at 315 Rehoboth Ave. Although it was Megan who went to culinary school, while Joseph studied film and photography, she left because she found she liked to eat more than cook. Joseph has since become a chef at restaurants in Philadelphia and later a sous chef at Eden.
“This is a really hard life. You have to find someone who wants it with you,” Megan said.
The Churchmans expect to open in June, as they get permits – a permit of compliance was granted by the Rehoboth commissioners Feb. 15 – and convert the former South Pacific floral shop into a restaurant. The entire interior will be renovated with an addition in the rear of the building for the kitchen.
Joseph's specialty as a chef is classic Italian, but Megan said there would be a little bit of everything on the menu.
“He’s really good at taking classic dishes like, for example, beef Wellington and deconstructing it and putting it back together in a way that’s palatable,” she said.
Megan, a Realtor who also co-owns Poor Little Rich Girls boutique, is handling the concept of the restaurant, which will have a Victorian-style entrance with gas lanterns out front and an eclectic interior feel, with old time photos and church pews converted to seats.
“We really wanted to play on the classic black-and-white palette,” Megan said.
In addition to two main dining areas, the restaurant will offer a separate room on the left which Megan called the presentation room, which will have 12 seats and provide a more intimate dining experience.
“On the weekends, we are going to have two seatings and offer six courses and six glasses of wine, pairings, for $100,” she said. “It will be different every weekend. This is so cool because I think having it in this presentation format allows the diner to interact with us more than in the server/diner situation.”
Megan said at late night, the presentation room could be converted to a lounge area for bar patrons. She said the room also could be used for couples out on a date, or for parties of up to 12 people.
“That’s my favorite room,” Megan said,
Bramble and Brine will have a total of 42 seats for dining and eight seats at the bar. Megan said the bar would focus on traditional cocktails with some craft beer in smaller kegs on tap. She said she wanted the bar to be smaller and more intimate, a place where people can come to socialize and eat in a comfortable and cozy surrounding.
A homey feel is what the Churchmans are going for because, well, they will be living in the apartment upstairs.
“When you come in, it’s our house, and we want people to feel that,” Megan said.
As for the name? Well, it’s a bit of a complicated story.
“Rehoboth was where the pine meets the brine. That was the advertising slogan and as much as I’d like to have it, it’s taken,” Megan said. Two years ago, the Churchmans went to the Rehoboth Beach Museum for inspiration, looking to tie the name into the history of Rehoboth.
“Brambles are the bushes along the beach, but they are also berries. The brine is a process of how you can use food. We thought that was a cool play on words. And it was available,” Megan said.
She said wanted a name that would eventually become shorthand around town.
“I thought, well, if I was going to say I was going to go to Bramble and Brine I would say, ‘Let’s go to B and B,’” Megan said.
The Churchmans have targeted a mid-June opening date and hope to be open no later than July 4.