After more than 50 years in downtown Rehoboth Beach, Nicola Pizza will close up shop and head to its new Lewes home at the end of the summer. The restaurant team that owns Bethany Blues and The Starboard will take over the original Nicola’s location on North First Street, planning to open Downtown Blues by Easter 2023.
In a press release June 28, Steve “Monty” Montgomery said Downtown Blues will be designed to fit the historic space that is special to so many. It’s very exciting to move into a space where he grew up eating Nic-o-bolis, pizza and pasta, he said.
Nick Caggiano Sr. and his late wife Joan founded Nicola Pizza in 1971. The original restaurant operated on North First Street, with a second location opening on Rehoboth Avenue in 2010. In August 2020, the Caggiano family announced the restaurant was leaving Rehoboth for a new site on Route 1 outside Lewes on property adjacent to Ocean One Plaza. The original restaurant had its last day of in-person dining June 12, but remains open for takeout. The Rehoboth Avenue location has in-person dining through the summer. Both locations are expected to close soon after Labor Day.
Both Nicola locations were sold to Trahos Capital Investments LLC in April 2021. In addition to the Nicola properties, Trahos family also owns several other properties in Rehoboth – including Gus & Gus, Starkey's Ice Cream, Tidal Rave's 5 &10, The Funnel Cake Factory, Zogg's Raw Bar & Grill, Dave & Skippy's, the Hotel Carlton building (current home to The Shirt Factory), Royal Market and Blackwall Hitch.
According to the press release, the Bethany Blues team will take over the Nicola spot about Oct. 1, and begin remodeling. The hope is to be open at the new location by Easter 2023, said the release.
“While we were not planning to expand, when approached about this location, it just made too much sense,” said Montgomery. “Our original Blues location in downtown Bethany is very popular for both dine-in and carryout. While we have our newly renovated location in Lewes, we feel downtown Rehoboth is a different market where so many can walk or bike to dine with us.”
There will be an emphasis on takeout, with a carryout counter near the front of the restaurant, said the release. With a mix of booths and tables, there will be approximately the same amount of seating as Nicola Pizza.
Montgomery said one of the keys to expanding was to make longtime operators of the original locations, Jessica Nathan and Zac Warner, into equity partners and part of the ownership team. They will continue to run these barbecue restaurants while raising their own children here in the community, he said.
The Bethany Blues team plans to keep some of the iconic feel with the front-window booths and semi-open kitchen, said the release. There will be a cozy bar area added to the back corner featuring Bethany Blues’ famous bourbon collection.
The plan is to be a year-round venue open for both lunch and dinner, said the release.