Jam Holdings partners Mark Hunker and Jeff McCracken hadn’t planned on opening their newest restaurant Red, White and Basil in late June, but, Hunker said, knocking on wood, things have worked out.
“It’s been a rocket start,” said Hunker during an interview Aug. 2. “We’ve been learning on the fly. It’s kind of like changing the tires of a car while it’s moving.”
Located just outside Rehoboth Beach on southbound Route 1, between Coldwell Banker and Fractured Prune, Red, White and Basil is the third restaurant Hunker and McCracken have opened locally and the first on Route 1. The business partners own Eden and Jam Bistro on Baltimore Avenue and Coho’s Market on Rehoboth Avenue.
Hunker said the primary reason for the delay was reconfiguring the space after they decided to take over the entire building. Originally, the plan was to take over the half of the building closest to Coldwell Banker, but then the other half became available, and after careful consideration, they decided it was in their best interest to use that space too, he said.
That decision added an extra three or four months of renovations and permitting requirements, which is why the restaurant opened June 29 instead of before Memorial Day, said Hunker. However, he continued, it was the right decision because now they control the whole building, which means additional indoor and outdoor seating, an office space on the second floor and a special-event space.
“I wanted to get that first plate of pasta sold before July,” said Hunker, laughing. “We wanted to start having money come in, instead of only going out.”
This is the second go-round for Red, White and Basil. Hunker and McCracken originally opened the restaurant in Washington, D.C., but ultimately chose to close that location and reopen it closer to their other Rehoboth restaurants. The pair still own and operate one restaurant in D.C. called The Duplex Diner. Hunker and McCracken brought some of the furniture and artwork from the original restaurant to the Rehoboth location.
The restaurant’s menu features a number of items and is set at a price point that makes it family friendly, said Hunker. It’s the type of place where families can come off the beach or leave Jungle Jim’s and get a good meal in a decent amount of time, he said.
Similar to Eden and Jam Bistro, menu items are handmade.
“If the chef wants to have meatballs on the menu, that’s fine, but they’re going to be hand rolled,” said Hunker.
Running the restaurant’s day-to-day operations are Executive Chef Stephen Meyers and Grant Budnik. Both are young, but both have been working at Eden for years, so they know what the expectations are, said Hunker.
Red, White and Basil, 20200 Coastal Highway, is open 4 to 9:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday. The restaurant is closed Monday and Tuesday. For more information, call 302-212-5452 or go to redwhiteandbasil.com. Online reservations are available.