Striper Bites, a staple restaurant in downtown Lewes for the last 20 years, will soon become property of the Big Fish Restaurant Group.
Big Fish President and Managing Partner Eric Sugrue confirmed during an interview March 8 that his group will be taking over the Savannah Road restaurant, which was opened by Matt and Ali DiSabatino in the summer of 2001.
“Matt and I have been friends for a long time,” Sugrue said. “This whole deal happened in a friendly way. We met behind closed doors for well over a month and we worked it out. He decided to start a new chapter in his life, so he was looking for somebody to continue the legacy.”
Sugrue said the transition will take place over the course of weeks or months – there is no firm date when the transfer will be completed. He said his team has already been in the restaurant working with the managers and staff.
“For 20 years we’ve created a brand that’s become synonymous with Lewes,” DiSabatino said. “We’re a very community-driven bar and eatery with an incredible customer base and amazing co-workers.”
DiSabatino said it was important to him that Sugrue and Big Fish honor the foundation he and his wife built over the last two decades. Sugrue agreed, saying he does not anticipate any major changes, and the name will remain.
“We’re keeping the charm,” he said. “That’s what we love about it. We want to keep it the same.”
This is the first restaurant the Big Fish group owns in Lewes, a town, Sugrue said, they’e been trying to get into for a long time.
“It’s a great town,” he said. “We consider it our backyard. We have a strong presence in Rehoboth, so Lewes is a natural fit for us. It took a long time to find the right deal. This feels like it was meant to be. It feels right.”
Norm and Eric Sugrue opened the first Big Fish Grill restaurant in 1997. They have since expanded to more than a dozen restaurants in Delaware, including several in the Lewes and Rehoboth area. Popular Cape Region restaurants include Summer House, Salt Air, Crab House, Stingray Sushi Bar, Obie’s By The Sea and Sazio.
DiSabatino said he will continue his co-owner roles with Lewes restaurants Half Full and Kindle.