302 Social opens atop First Street Station in Rehoboth

MBA Hospitality Group expands from Berlin, Md., with diverse menu, lively ambiance
June 20, 2024

Rehoboth Beach’s new restaurant, 302 Social Eatery and Barroom, aims to provide the coastal community with a unique dining experience. 

The restaurant sits on the second floor of First Street Station along Rehoboth Avenue. The space featured short stints from Hooters and Cooter Brown’s. Co-owner Marcos Lopez hopes his company’s short-term goals will accomplish long-term aspirations of offering an original menu and atmosphere.  

“We wanted to develop our own personality and our own feel – make it warm, make it unique, make it feel genuine,” Lopez said.

Lopez and fellow owners Brandon Tolan and Albert Gjoni took over the location in October and shifted gears from Cooter Brown’s earlier this year. Their partnership, MBA Hospitality Group, opened 410 Social, the first of the two sister restaurants, in Berlin, Md., around Labor Day 2022. 

“With both places, we just want something colorful, something that has personality, something that’s also warm and mirrors the community,” Lopez said.

The restaurant offers tacos, burgers, sandwiches and seafood dishes. Lopez said they don’t want to put a label on the food, but rather keep the menu diverse, creative and adventurous.

“We don’t want to be Asian cuisine or Italian cuisine or American light fare,” Lopez said. “We want to try and basically bring them all together and just have it be fun. We really want everything we do to showcase a personality and authenticity to it.”

Like the cuisine, 302 Social also aims to maintain a distinct ambiance. For both 302 Social and 410 Social, MBA Hospitality Group contracted local artist Evan Fitzgerald to give the restaurant a different life compared to other businesses. They also aim to create an open environment where one can see across the room, promoting togetherness and avoiding compartmentalization, Lopez said. 

Lopez and Tolan met while working at Fager’s Island in Ocean City, Md., as bartenders and later part of the managing staff. They were at Fager’s for 17 years but knew it was time for a change after COVID. 

Gjoni’s family moved from Greece to Berlin, which is where he met Tolan. 

Having a staff and management group that has their own personalities is crucial to success, Lopez said. Despite long days, the staff works hard, is passionate about what they do and, most importantly, can laugh together. 

“It’s a tough environment to work in,” Lopez said. “It can be very stressful, so having a good attitude, having that ambition, drive and believing in working together is immeasurable.”

Lopez said opening a second location in Rehoboth was a great decision because the town is homey, positive and has a character of its own. He sees Rehoboth as a community, and more than just the sun and sand. 

“It’s not just the restaurants,” Lopez said. “You walk around and you’ve got cool shops, people are smiling, having a good time. That’s what you want to be around.”


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