Dewey business owners gear up for season

Restaurateurs are optimistic for a strong summer
April 7, 2021

Members of the Dewey Business Partnership expressed hope for a strong summer season and for an increase in occupancy levels at the group’s March 31 meeting.

Town commissioners voted March 30 to let restaurants keep expanded outdoor dining services as they have under the state of emergency order through March 31, 2022, but under current state restrictions, food and drink establishments must still remain at 50 percent of stated fire code occupancy limits, excluding employees.

Nalu owner Regan Derrickson said the restaurant has launched a comprehensive gluten-free menu with a variety of offerings, from appetizers to poke bowls, entrees and desserts. 

The Hawaiian-themed surf bar and grill debuted an outdoor seating area last year, which Derrickson said is going very well, weather permitting. He said he hopes for some increase in occupancy as Delawareans get vaccinated, and said it is unclear to business owners at what point restrictions can be lifted.

Christine Hastings said the family-owned and -operated Jolly Trolley is in its 31st year with the Hastings family; she said the Trolley first began in 1970 and the Hastings family took over in 1992. Online ticket purchase is available for the Dewey-Rehoboth shuttle service, she said.

Hammerheads owner George Bendler said his Dewey location opened about a month ago and Dockside will open April 15. Homemade ice cream is new to the menu, Bendler said, and he’s bringing back the customer favorite key lime pie. Outdoor seating will be available in Dewey, and an expansion at Dockside will offer closer waterfront seating, he said.

Mezcali will open for the season April 15 with new chef Joe Churchman and new menu items such as a ceviche bar and breakfast burritos, owner Jeff Treacy said. Plans call for adding a couple more tables at the front of the building and installing a canopy over the deck to provide shade and protection from rain. Treacy said he hopes the governor will permit more people to be allowed per table.

Maria D’Ambrogi, owner of Mexican restaurant Sirvida, said she will be launching beer dinners, to-go family platters such as taco boxes, and expanded catering options. Delivery is available in town from May 15 to Sept. 15, she said. 

Hyatt Place Dewey Beach General Manager Drew DiFonzo said the hotel is seeing very strong bookings for April and May, and he is pleased that banquet capacity was changed to the same level as restaurants at 50 percent occupancy. The Lighthouse Restaurant will be open sometime in summer 2021, he said.

Bob Forwood of Wings to Go said he is semi-retired, and his nephew Nate Johnson has been busy running the restaurant. Forwood said he’s optimistic about the summer season and hopeful for a decline in COVID cases. 

One of the restaurant’s little-known secrets, Forwood said, is the Beach Bull Donuts, which are made fresh and hot to order at any time. Wings to Go is open weekends until the week before Memorial Day, when it will be open seven days a week.

Woody’s Dewey Beach owner Jimmy O’Conor said he is still looking for kitchen staff for Woody’s 2 Go, which he had planned to open last year. A new deck has been installed out front, a temporary expansion he said he hopes will become permanent. While times have been tough, O’Conor said, he is excited for a busy summer and hopes the governor will ease restrictions.

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