A well-known Cape Region restaurant company is spreading its wings to the Sussex County Airport near Georgetown.
As the lone bidder on a new contract to take over operations, Deli Days LLC, will open Arena's at the Airport this spring. Deli Days operates four other restaurants: Arena's Deli and Bar and Arena's Cafe in Rehoboth Beach; Arena's Cafe in Lewes; and Arena's in Long Neck.
Under terms of the lease, Deli Days will pay rent of 3 percent of gross sales capping out at $15,000 a year. As explained by County Deputy Director Hal Godwin, the county covers the cost of propane for heating and cooking, insurance, maintenance and repair of county-owned kitchen equipment, and water and sewer.
Godwin said the county's goal is to push more of those costs onto the restaurant tenant as business grows.
“We will reopen the lease in five years. It's our goal to get out of the cost side of the business,” he said. Over the past four years, the county's costs have averaged about $16,000 per year. “It's been a negative cash flow to the county.”
Sussex County Council approved the new lease at its Feb. 26 meeting.
Sussex officials were forced to find a new tenant when owners of the current restaurant, Lighthouse Landing, gave notice they wanted out of their four-year lease with five months remaining. To keep the restaurant open, the county agreed to a temporary lease agreement of $1 per month for the first three months of 2013.
“A restaurant brings more business to the airport; it's an anchor for other businesses,” Godwin said.
“I'm excited,” said Councilman Vance Phillips, R-Laurel. “This is a great tenant with a great track record.”
Arena's at the Airport - located on Ruddertown Lane off Route 9 - will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner with brunches starting at 8 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Godwin said the restaurant will be closed for a short period of time after Friday, March 15, to make minor renovations. He could not provide a grand-opening date.