Everything must change; nothing stays the same
Composer and songwriter Quincy Jones’ timeless lyrics go on to say, “’cause that’s the way of time.” The sad passing of Leo Medisch and Tom Kopunek got me thinking about how the restaurant business has evolved here in Rehoboth over the past 50 or so years. Long before that (well, not that long), I remember standing in line with my parents at the Avenue Restaurant, savoring the breakfasty aroma of sausage and hot coffee. I can still hear the crinkle of wax-paper-wrapped sandwiches from George’s Lunch, secreted onto the sand for a midday bite under a green canvas umbrella. Now we’re reading obituaries about people who I just assumed would be permanent features on Rehoboth’s dining landscape. I guess it’s natural to find that unsettling.
Last week I confided those feelings to my friend and Cape Gazette publisher Dennis Forney. Dennis is not one for platitudes. Peering over the top of his glasses, he got straight to the point: “Well, Bob,” he said, “You’ve reached the stage of your life where that sort of thing is going to happen.” Thanks, Dennis. Of course, he’s right, but I’ll admit I’m still unsettled. But restauranting is theater, and the show must go on.
In conjunction with the ongoing Beach Eats! exhibition at the Rehoboth Beach Museum, I’m honored to have been asked to moderate a panel of restaurateurs at the Rehoboth Public Library Tuesday, Sept. 24, at 6 p.m. In preparation for this forum of beach eats icons, I thought I’d share a bit of history with you. So, ladies and gentlemen, start your time machines:
Back Porch Café used to be the Marvel Guest House. Fins Seafood used to be Sir Guy’s. Bob Ching's White Chimney Inn, Fran O'Brien’s, Third Edition and 59 Lake are now Stingray. Fusion became Salt Air, reborn a year ago as … yup, Salt Air. Next door, Ground Zero surrendered to Celsius, and is now Henlopen City Oyster House. Partners is now Rigby’s. The Goodie Garden became the Robert Lee Snak Bar that’s now Robin Hood. Remember the restaurants on Olive Avenue? All gone. Chez La Mer became Porcini House and is now Cabo. The Dinner Bell restaurant occupied what is now the eastern most portion of the delightfully comfortable Bellmoor Inn. The bell no longer rings at dinnertime.
John Orlando’s Potpourri is now Finbar’s. The Rehoboth Inn became Philadelphia Mike’s, then The (very purple) Palm that became Cloud 9, soon to be a demolition site. The Pink Pony sat where Boardwalk Plaza Hotel is now. Creative Impressions became Gallery Espresso, Tornado Fries and then Modern Mixture. Manos, Confetti’s, Dos Locos, Retro Café and Cosmopolitan Grill gave way to Shorebreak Lodge on Wilmington. The new Dos Locos used to be Abizak’s furniture. Hobos on Baltimore used to be SOB’s. Sydney’s American Pie (aka Sidestreet Café) and a card shop called Paper Moon morphed into La La Land which is now the stuff of history. Astral Plane/Sydney’s Blues Club is now Pig & Fish. Mimi’s Fruit Bowl moved down the Avenue to become Eden Garden Café which grew into the original Eden that became Taste, Blue and now Cilantro. The relocated Eden replaced Pizza by Elizabeth’s on Baltimore. Joe’s Italian Ice gave way to Go Fish! The Corner Cupboard is now the Park Manor beach rental. Dr. John’s became The Front Page that’s now Iguana Grill. The Country Squire became Seaside Thai and is now home to Semra’s Mediterranean Grill. Cafe Heaven became Dish! and is now MIXX. The old Sea Horse first became Dinardo’s crab house, then ChiliBilly’s and is now Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s. Café Solé was renamed Solé and is now a(MUSE.). George Vrentzos’ Corner Grill used to be the Kannery. Frogg Pond lost the Frogg but kept The Pond. Sir Boyce’s became Andiamo and is now Just in Thyme. George’s Lunch is now Thrasher’s. Grotto Pizza’s outdoor patio on The Avenue used to be home to the Sea Wood restaurant. Ovations became JAM Bistro and is now Debacle. The new JAM Bistro moved into the storied Camel’s Hump on Baltimore that was originally on Rehoboth Avenue. The first Cultured Pearl is now Tuscan Grill. The Hotel Rehoboth marks the original site of the fledgling Purple Parrot, which followed Oscar’s Seafood that had been the Homestead Restaurant that started out as Peg’s Diner.
And that’s not all - but I’m out of ink! Learn more from some of Rehoboth’s dining pioneers Tuesday, Sept. 24. Call the museum at 302-227-7310 for details.