Rehoboth commissioners unanimously approved a permit of compliance for Donald Vechery to open Steamin’ Blues Crabhouse on Baltimore Avenue in Rehoboth during a meeting March 15.
Located in the former Jake’s Seafood, Vechery said the 29 Baltimore Ave. location will be his third restaurant. He started the Surfing Crab near Lewes over a decade ago and in 2013 he took over Bethesda Crab House, a restaurant his dad opened in 1961 in Bethesda, Md.
The plan is to run a family restaurant, not a bar, said Vechery. The restaurant will serve crabs and beer, and then close early, he said.
Vechery said he didn’t plan to have live entertainment, and he wasn’t expecting to have any noise problems. If there are, he said, he is willing to make needed changes.
Vechery said he is planning a soft opening for Tuesday, May 7, with a full-blown opening Wednesday, May 8.
According to a report by city Building Inspector Damalier Molina, the restaurant will have 128 dining seats and 11 bar seats. A new sprinkler system will be installed.
Commissioner Stan Mills questioned Vechery about how the restaurant will clean the kitchen and its floor mats, and contain odors associated with a crab house. He said he didn’t want the mats hosed into the storm drains.
Vechery said floor mats will be professionally cleaned every day by a contractor who brings in new ones, and dirty kitchen water will not be hosed into the storm drains. As for the smell, Vechery said there will be no dead crabs on site because they will be sorted at the Surfing Crab, trash cans will be picked up every day if needed, and products are used to keep the trash receptacles from smelling.
Mayor Paul Kuhns said he thought the restaurant had a chance to be a great anchor business for Baltimore Avenue.
Commissioner Toni Sharp said she thought it would be a very nice addition.
Betty Ann “Bitsy” Cochran, a Rehoboth property owner and former longtime business owner, was the only member of the public to speak. She owns the property across the street on First Street and wanted to make sure the restaurant’s trash would be screened. It’s an eyesore, she said.
Vechery said that wouldn’t be a problem, offering his cell phone to Cochran for her to contact him directly if there was one.