Hometown friendly: On the menu here at the beach

November 3, 2023

A couple of months ago, I wrote a lengthy treatise (some felt it was overly lengthy – but it’s my column, after all) that lavished praise on the hallowed cheesesteak sandwich. A few times in the article I referred to that mid-Atlantic favorite as a “’steak” (a polite nod to our northern neighbors), and of course this triggered a surprising number of emails asking about steaks. Actual steaks. You know, with bones and all that.

All’s well that ends well, as it inspired a long-overdue visit to 1776 Steakhouse in Midway. This relaxed, upscale eatery has been in the same location for about 35 years. When it first opened, servers dressed up in Revolutionary-style garb. Rumor has it that the original owners priced all the entrees at $17.76. Good thing the Declaration of Independence wasn’t signed in 895. They’d have gone broke.

Around 1992, the establishment was sold to Kenny Butler, formerly the general manager of Kings Creek Country Club. Back then, Irish-born chef Phil Lambert ruled the kitchen at 1776, and it’s through that relationship that he eventually assumed the executive chef position at Kings Creek. (KCCC members love Phil’s steaks – he hasn’t lost his touch.)

As Kenny’s success in racehorse ownership increased, his interest in the restaurant decreased, which brings us to that fall morning in ’07. I was there in the parking lot (with about a hundred others) when the contents were to be auctioned off. About two minutes before the gavel was raised, Tom Holmes and Bob Mitchell swooped down and snapped up the whole kit and kaboodle. (I had hoped to bid on the kaboodle.)

Tom and Bob recruited Executive Chef Tammy Mozingo to oversee kitchen operations. Tammy had been sous chef and one of the original “seafood princesses” at Tom and Terry’s restaurant in Bethany Beach. After a stint at the Shark’s Cove and Bear Trap Dunes, Tammy steaked her claim at 1776.

She, Tom and Bob revamped the menu, wisely retaining such favorites as the lobster-stuffed black ravioli and crème brûlée cheesecake. Though the massive, custom-cut steaks are certainly the center of attention, Tammy’s seafood skills aren’t wasted at 1776. Not a carnivore? Try her pan-seared dayboat scallops.

Longtime Rehoboth Beach barkeep Johnny Farquhar became part owner for a while after Bob moved on, and Farquhar’s signature Chocolate Martini and Red Pear are now the stuff of happy hour legend. Johnny recently moved on, but 1776 still specializes in those unusual Trappist Beers with names like Stone Arrogant Bastard, He’Brew R.I.P.A. and Wychwood Hobgoblin. The bar crew is particularly proud of Rochefort #8 that hails from the year 1595, and the Orval Ale that has been lovingly poured since 1628. It’s hard not to quaff a pint or two with your sizzling steak.

One of the great things about so many of our Cape Region restaurants is the personal touches – little gestures that go above and beyond what you might expect in a big-city eatery. I guess that’s a perk of living in a tiny beach town where many of the restaurateurs are friends and neighbors. One of the best examples happened during a dinner at 1776 when Tom introduced me to a young family who had been treated to a Rehoboth Beach visit by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The daughter, who had cerebral palsy, specifically asked for the experience to include 1776 Steakhouse. They travelled all the way from Massachusetts to enjoy the custom-cut steaks. It was a touching scene as a beaming Tom Holmes guided them on a tour of the busy kitchen. I live for moments like that.


  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at

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