The owners of Big Oyster Brewery on Kings Highway, Lewes, have plans for expansion on a parcel of land adjacent to the restaurant.
Jeff-Kat LLC of Rehoboth Beach is seeking to rezone the .78-acre parcel from AR-1, agricultural-residential, to C-3, heavy commercial. The property is currently owned by the First Baptist Church of Lewes and contains a house and multipurpose building. The church sanctuary is not on the parcel and will remain as is for now.
Church officials have plans to use proceeds from the sale of the land to begin the process to build a new sanctuary on a vacant parcel north of the current church.
During the Nov. 12 Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, Ring Lardner, representing the applicant, said plans call for offices and expansion of the brewpub operation on the property. “It will also improve vehicular movement and parking on the site,” he said.
Plans also include an expansion of the outdoor eating area behind the restaurant and more space for storage.
He said the existing buildings will be reused, with the house turned into offices and the multipurpose building for brewpub expansion.
Jeff Hamer, who owns Fins Hospitality Group, including Fins Fish House and Raw Bar restaurants in Rehoboth, Bethany and Berlin, Md., and Claws Seafood House in Rehoboth, said if approved, parking would be contained on the east side of Kings Highway so parking on the other side of the road could be eliminated.
In May 2019, the company purchased three acres of land behind the restaurant with plans to expand parking and storage. But, Hamer said, the only access to the parcel had to be turned into an exit walkway to allow for better social-distancing flow within the restaurant because of COVID-19.
Hamer said distribution is up 30 percent at the brewpub. “We need additional space,” he said.
Lardner said the applicant is aware of Delaware Department of Transportation plans to widen Kings Highway. “It will require right of way dedicated to DelDOT, but we don't know the plan yet,” he said.
At their Nov. 19 meeting, commissioners voted to recommend approval of the rezoning application.
Sussex County Council has scheduled a public hearing on the application at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 1, in the county administration building, 2 The Circle, Georgetown.