Due to a change in city code increasing the amount of allowable outdoor dining space on the private property of restaurants, Rehoboth Beach’s Somewhere will continue to offer its outdoor oasis when it reopens for the season.
“We just want to make that area a more beautiful, community-friendly space for people to have a good time,” said co-owner Aileen Hearn.
Located on Baltimore Avenue in a 100-year-old beach cottage that was most recently the Iguana Grill Restaurant & Cantina, Hearn and fellow co-owner Kyle Ten Eyck purchased the business in late 2020, remodeled through the winter and opened Somewhere in 2021.
When Hearn and Ten Eyck purchased the business, the sandy oasis located on the western side of the house was in place because the city had temporarily implemented outdoor dining regulations during the pandemic. After three summers in place, those pandemic rules expired Nov. 1. In advance of the expiration, city commissioners approved a 250-square-foot increase to the allowable amount of outdoor patio dining for restaurants – 750 square feet to 1,000.
Somewhere is the first restaurant in the city to get approval for an expanded outdoor dining area. Hearn and Ten Eyck received the city’s blessing on the expansion during a supplemental permit of compliance hearing March 17. The day of the hearing was also the day the city recognized the Village Improvement Association, which brought out a few dozen of the association members. Hearn said she thought all those women were there for the restaurant’s public hearing.
“I was a little nervous to begin with,” said Hearn, laughing. “We’re just glad it’s over with, so we can start moving forward.”
Somewhere’s dining layout is unique in Rehoboth and grandfathered as existing noncompliance. For purposes of the liquor license, the seats on the porch count toward permanent indoor dining. However, the porch also counts toward the city’s outdoor dining space calculation.
The extra 250 square feet was enough to account for the porch and allow the restaurant to keep the oasis without going beyond the 1,000-square-foot maximum, said Ten Eyck. There was an option of enclosing the porch and putting all the allowable outdoor dining area toward the oasis, but then the charm of the house would be lost, he said.
Hearn said she’s gotten inquiries about events and is excited about the possibilities now that the space has formally been approved.
In addition to the expanded outdoor dining, Somewhere also got a bunch of new kitchen equipment, which was still in the process of being unpacked and installed.
The goal is to keep making high-quality food, but much more efficiently, said Ten Eyck.
A specific date for the season’s opening hasn’t been set yet, but Hearn and Ten Eyck agree a mid- to late-April opening is feasible.
There’s a lot of work to do, but it will get done, said Ten Eyck.