After multiple, painstaking renovations at its Lewes location, Agave Tequila Bar and Restaurant owner Chris McKeown said he knew if he was ever going to open another restaurant he would start from scratch.
That’s why, McKeown said, he and his wife Jocelyn jumped at the opportunity to build that second location on a vacant, Rehoboth Avenue lot.
“Building from the ground up is 100 percent what we wanted to do,” said McKeown. “This last renovation was a complete nightmare, and I need to have things the way I want.”
Still in the design and permitting phase, the McKeowns have signed a multi-decade lease for the vacant lot at 232 Rehoboth Ave., next to the Summer House Bar and Restaurant and across the street from the new Rehoboth Beach City Hall.
Jocelyn said she likes the restaurant being a few blocks away from the beach, closer to the more established restaurants. She said Dogfish Head’s recent expansion set the bar for new restaurant construction in town, and she’s confident Agave’s new location will meet that standard.
Jocelyn said she thinks customers from Lewes north will go to Agave in Lewes, while customers from Rehoboth south will go to the one in Rehoboth. It’s going to split the difference for our customers, she said.
“I’m excited,” she said. “Really excited.”
McKeown said the couple had been thinking about expanding for the past year, but some things needed to change at the Lewes location for that to happen. Basically, he said he needed to get out of the kitchen and let his staff run things for a while.
“After I left, the atmosphere lightened up,” McKeown said, recognizing that his personality and desire for perfection can grate on people. “In 10 years, I rarely ate out front, but I did a few times this year, and, you know what, this food is good.”
Jocelyn said the couple weighed the option of a Route 1 location, but ultimately they chose downtown Rehoboth because they like the idea of being a part of a community.
Joining the McKeown’s to help with the business side of this, and future, expansions is Mike Firetti, a retired businessman who has been eating at Agave since it opened in 2008. Everyone knows Agave, he said.
“I just didn’t like the waiting in the lines,” said Firetti, a Rehoboth resident, laughing. “Agave is the only business I would come out of retirement for.”
Firetti said he’s not interested in tweaking the successful model the McKeowns have honed over the years. He said he just wants to help build on the reputation.
“We want to stay focused on Agave and help grow the Agave brand,” Firetti said. “All I’m going to do is sell the hell out of it.”
Firetti said the expectation is to be breaking ground in Rehoboth in early 2019, with an opening in September. He said they’ve started to meet with a design company, but the details have not yet been figured out.
“It’s going to be unique to Rehoboth,” he said. “The building is going to be beautiful.”
To celebrate the expansion into Rehoboth, McKeown said Agave will have a two-day, buy-one-get-one gift card sale at both locations Thursday, Oct. 25, and Friday, Oct. 26.
For more information go to agavelewes.com or call 302-645-1232.