Rehoboth: Ghost town no more

The Churchmans built their sparkling professional kitchen from the ground up. That’s chef/co-owner Joe in the center. BY BOB YESBEK PHOTOS
December 3, 2013

I wrote last week about how more and more restaurants are staying open in the off-season, and that trend seems to apply to startups as well. Most anybody in the food biz will tell you that it’s the kiss of death to try to open a resort eatery in the off-season. After all, who’d go?

Well, that was then, but this is now, and that ancient axiom no longer applies - at least not here in Rehoboth Beach. A prime example is the mid-October debut of the new Bramble & Brine. It took Joe and Megan Churchman waaayyy longer than they anticipated to fit-out the old South Pacific Florist (remember the Brown Bean restaurant that predated the florist?), and the skeptics were weeping and gnashing their teeth at the thought of anything other than a mid-June rollout.

But open in October they did, and since the very first night, a seat at Bramble & Brine has become the holy grail of fall 2013. Reservations are a must, but get there early so Rob the bartender can start you off with the signature Churchmanhattan.

You’d think that the longtime owners of Fins Fish House/Raw Bar and Claws Seafood House would know better, but there’s obviously a method to their madness as the brand-new Fins Ale House & Raw Bar takes shape across from the Safeway (replacing the short-lived Bonwich Café). Once you crack the code for getting into the parking lot, it’s obvious they believe the new spot will be a hit. Let’s face it: It’s not often that you see that much money and effort put into improving the exterior of a rented space. They’ve pretty much rebuilt half of the entire strip center! No doubt the Fins/Claws group is in there for the long haul, and they’re not taking any chances. This bodes well for the highway venture.

Speaking of grails (holy or otherwise), Patty Jacobs’ delicious cookies, brownies and breads are a closely guarded secret in Georgetown. They’re even more newsworthy since a careless driver recently took a shortcut through Patty’s carryout, crashing through the front picture window and bending Patty’s car in the process. The little shop on S. Bedford Street (between 16 Mile Brewery and the Georgetown DMV) is still safe, albeit a bit wrinkled, but Patty and her crew took it in stride and are still crankin’ out fresh sandwiches, salads, gift baskets, pies, moist pumpkin-cranberry bread and those ridiculously good cookies. So don’t be turned off by the plywood and the ignominious tangle of two-by-fours that was her picnic table. The intrepid New Jersey native stays open from 8 a.m. ‘til 6 p.m. weekdays and her food’s well worth the drive.

The old Charcoal Grill (formerly Zorba’s) in the Food Lion Shopping Center is long gone, but yet another eatery is on the horizon. I’ve been sworn to secrecy as negotiations continue, but be ready for a longtime local chef to branch out on his (or maybe her) own. I’ll let you know the scoop (unless that annoying guy beats me to it).

Another off-season surprise is the still-open and relatively busy Sunrise Restaurant in Dewey Beach. Though the winter chill is upon is, the diminutive diner continues to dish up generous breakfasts and lunches. Don’t miss the breakfast sandwiches, some of the biggest and best around. They’re open ‘til about 1:30 p.m. every day.

Most foodies who like to cook have a special affection for stainless steel and cool indicator lights. And Gary Chorman’s brand-new Millman’s Appliances on Route 9 (where Good For You Foods used to be, just past Hopkins Dairy) is filled with shiny cooktops, fridges that look like bank safes and beautiful ranges with enough knobs and lights to land another astronaut on the moon. Gary makes it well worth the five-minute drive by offering great package deals on brand-name and hard-to-find cooking gear. Give your preferred foodie a gas cooktop for Christmas! He (or she) will love you for it.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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