The Delaware Restaurant Association will host its 15th Annual Restaurant Industry Cornerstone Awards from 6 to 9 p.m., Monday, Nov. 7, at World Café Live at the Queen Theater in Wilmington. The event will feature fine food and drink tastings from Delaware's top restaurants, and live jazz from musician Joe Baione. DRA Chairman of the Board Steve Montgomery will host an after-party immediately following the event in Upstairs Live! featuring a late night buffet and music from The Blue Cats Blues Band, fronted by DRA Board Member and NKS VP Paul Ruggiero. The Cornerstone Awards serves as Delaware's restaurant industry's biggest night of the year; a time to come together and celebrate industry camaraderie, as well as recognize the Restaurateur of the Year and Cornerstone Award winners. These awards honor those restaurateurs that stand as benchmarks for innovation, creativity, excellence in service and commitment to the community. To purchase tickets, go to www.delawarerestaurant.org/events or call 302-738-2545.
Chris Baker and Joe Bisaha of Henlopen City Oyster House are this year's Restaurateurs of the Year.
Both Bisaha and Baker have worked many avenues of the busy restaurant trade since their teenage years, from bussing tables through washing dishes. They both envisioned a particular type of food destination they wanted to bring to the beach. Enter Henlopen City Oyster House. Named after an early iteration of Rehoboth Beach, Henlopen City opened in 2010 on Wilmington Avenue in downtown Rehoboth Beach and hasn't slowed down since. More than a great authentic oyster bar, Baker, Bisaha and their committed staff offer their customers a robust and diverse array of beers (on cask, on tap and bottled), wines and spirits. Named the Small Business Administration's best small business in Delaware for 2016, the pair plan to bring the same integrity of craft to their second culinary creation - The Blue Hen - scheduled to open this winter right down the street from Henlopen City.
Scott Kammerer of SoDel Cares and SoDel Concepts is a Cornerstone Award Winner. Kammerer is president of SoDel Concepts, which owns 10 coastal restaurants, a catering company and a food truck. SoDel Concepts has won a myriad of awards in recent years including the Marvin S. Gilman Superstar in Business Award, presented by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce. Camera was also named Business Man of the Year in 2015 and 2016 by Coastal Style Magazine.
Over the last 20 years, Kammerer has established himself as a premier developer of restaurant companies and concepts on the East Coast. He is a founding partner of Highwater Management and HaleyKammerer Restaurant Consulting, a co-founder of Matt's Homemade Sodas, a line of craft sodas distributed throughout Delaware, a co-founder of SoDel Salts, a line of chef inspired flavored sea salt, and executive producer of SoDel Films. SoDel Concepts also sponsors charitable events, including the Women and Wine series at Lupo Italian Kitchen, from September through May; the Chicks for Charity series at Fish On; Girl Scout Cookie Month in February; and events held by other charities and organizations throughout the year.
Kammerer is also the founder of SoDel Cares, a charity that raises funds for causes that benefit children, at-risk youth, adults re-entering society from the prison system and the elderly who need assistance. Beneficiaries include the Rehoboth Beach Boys & Girls Club, The Freeman Stage at Bayside, The Harry K Foundation and Pathways to Success. In 2016 SoDel Cares was voted Best Local Charity by readers of Coastal Style Magazine.