A proposal for a microbrewery in Dewey Beach was shot down in June, but the applicants are back before town council with a new plan that puts food first, beer second.
At a Jan. 11 meeting, Dewey Beach Town Council voted to send Dewey Beer Company’s application for a restaurant and brewpub to the town’s planning commission for consideration.
The commission said it would fast-track the process so the applicants, if approved, could open their doors this year.
The new proposal calls for a gourmet, farm-to-table restaurant at the old Bubba’s Grill location at 2100 Coastal Hwy. Applicants Brandon Smith, Clinton Bunting and Mike Reilly say a seven-barrel brewing system would be a secondary component to the food menu.
Smith said its an opportunity for Dewey Beach to have a destination like Dogfish Head Brewing and Eats in Rehoboth Beach, which is family-friendly and pairs craft beers with fresh, local menu items.
“Too often people are leaving this area for Rehoboth Beach restaurants,” Smith said. “Craft beer is a local product, and it’s been helping communities flourish.”
Smith also said the brewpub would attract a more mature clientele to Dewey Beach.
Bunting said his role is to make the location more attractive.
Previously a breakfast joint, the location has no liquor license. The applicants’ attorney, Jay Becker, said the company is working to obtain a license from the Delaware Alcoholic Beverage Control Commissioner.
The applicants cannot get a liquor license from the ABCC without a certificate of compliance from the town, Becker said.
The applicants asked council to bypass the typical process of sending the proposal to the planning commission for a recommendation. It took the commission three months to put the initial proposal on its agenda, and the commission ultimately rejected the proposal.
“Time is of the essence,” Bunting said.
Part-time resident Betsy Damos spoke in favor of sending the proposal to the planning commission. “Even the Salad Factory went to planning and zoning,” she said.
Damos also worried the smell of hops would mask the smell of ocean for homeowners near the property.
Bunting said the brewpub would emit no odors. “There are no toxic air emissions from a brew pub of this size. Period,” Bunting said.
Planning Commission Vice Chairman David King said the commission has a more in-depth knowledge of the town code and the comprehensive plan than the commissioners. He said the commission should be able to review the application and recommend appropriate restrictions for the business. “You need to dig in,” he said. “You need to set conditions.”
King said he would organize a planning commission meeting before the next town council meeting, delaying the process only one month. “I think we should get it right,” King said.
Bunting said the applicants would agree to a one-month delay.
The Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal at 10 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 1, at Dewey Beach Life Saving Station on Dagsworthy Avenue. The commission will likely issue a recommendation to town council at its meeting at 9 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 8.