The Starboard: Dewey’s Party Central for 54 years!

August 28, 2014
In the winter, The Starboard’s massive electronic sign plays good neighbor to other Dewey Beach eateries. BY FOODIE

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, live entertainment, charity events or just plain boozy fun, there’s always something going on at The Starboard. In the early ‘60s, Duke Duggan’s Last Resort Bar was less than a quarter of the size of the present restaurant. Duke served spaghetti and meatballs, followed by late-night wintertime sing-alongs.

Addition after addition was built as the popular tavern began to catch on. The Hearn family purchased the business in 1986, and young Chip Hearn’s bloody mary bar and his growing assortment of hot sauces were a hit: “I had lines for breakfast on Sundays, and I had to decide what to do with all those people. So I decided to let them make their own bloody marys. It went from a happy breakfast to a loud and VERY happy breakfast!”

In 1999 The Starboard was sold to a group of restaurant partners. One of those is Steve “Monty” Montgomery, a hands-on kind of guy who seems to be everywhere at the same time. As a Dewey Beach 12-year-old, he sold hot dogs and rented umbrellas on the sand. He also worked for Hearn at The Starboard.

“We all wanted to make Chip proud,” Monty smiles, “he really helped change the image of Dewey Beach.”

There’s a lot of restaurant know-how behind The Starboard. The partners also operate Bethany Blues and several other restaurants and bars in the Washington, D.C. area. Partners Jim Weisgerber and Kevin Roberts spend much of their time crankin’ out smoky barbecue. Avid surfer and kiteboarder Dick Heidenberger also operates the popular Dickie’s Frozen Custard in Dewey Beach.

Montgomery says, “I love watching people have fun. They go everywhere to see bands, but they come to The Starboard to see the bartenders.” After waiting in long lines, thirsty patrons make a beeline for their favorite barkeep.

When Duggan passed away in 1997, a newspaper cartoon showed him at the pearly gates, suitcases in hand. The angelic gatekeeper mutters, “…I have a feeling this joint’s about to start jumpin’!” For over half a century, The Starboard has never stopped jumpin’.

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