New Lewes eatery mixes contemporary and traditional fare

October 21, 2022

Last Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending the media/friends & family party at the brand-new Lewes Oyster House. That real-time shakedown of their systems went well, and the restaurant is now open for reservations only Wednesday through Saturday of this week. Goodness knows we’ve waited long enough! It was a lot of work to convert the iconic Walsh Building (home of the old Rose & Crown and Jerry’s Seafood) into the casually upscale Lewes Oyster House. The theme pays homage to the popular 18th and 19th century Middle Atlantic oyster houses.

Delaware Today’s Best of Delaware award-winning Chef Sean Corea brings his Espuma/Nage/Fork & Flask/Nalu experience to his partnership with Tom Little (affectionately known as thehospitality Swiss Army Knife’), and seasoned restaurant operations guru Tim Bartley. Restauranting is no mystery to Tim. He grew up in Dover, starting his career in the dish room at the old Avenue Restaurant in Rehoboth. As a graduate of Salesianum School, Villanova and Fordham School of Law, he was instrumental in the creation of Eatwell Enterprises, which spawned the Charlie Palmer Collective. Tim’s 22-year tenure there included senior operations management and general counsel to the huge enterprise.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Chef Sean Corea since he hosted our Eating Rehoboth restaurant tours over 10 years ago at the long-gone Espuma. His progression from line cook to sous chef to executive chef to restaurant owner has been remarkable. (Translation: This guy knows his stuff.) His experience as an All-State wrestler at Caesar Rodney High School is, as far as I’m concerned, a lateral move into this relentless business of eating. After attending New York’s prestigious Culinary Institute of America, Sean distinguished himself alongside world-renowned Chef Daniel Boulud at Daniel, a Michelin Star restaurant. Sean’s enthusiasm is contagious, and it is reflected in the attitude of his team at Lewes Oyster House.

When the restaurant gets around to creating a merchandise section, one of the featured items should be Tom Little’s infectious smile. This welcoming and upbeat guy is a perfect ownership match for Tim and Sean. And on top of it all, he’s an actual Lewes native! Tom played football at McDaniel College in Westminster, Md., finishing with a major in sociology and communication. After sharpening his restaurant skills, he eventually pioneered the position of marketing manager and beer-brand development for locally owned restaurant group La Vida Hospitality.

I described Lewes Oyster House as “casually upscale.” And the menu speaks directly to that. One of the simplest – and most delicious – little bites is the LOH Tide Oysters. (LOH … get it?) Warm herbed butter enrobes a tender bivalve topped with a blend of three cheeses. Feeling frisky? Chef Sean’s pride & joy is his rotisserie chicken. Some of you might remember when I, along with Sean and several other actual chefs, went spatula to spatula in the ultimate chicken fry-off at Fork & Flask. I won’t tell you who won two years in a row, but I’ll give you a hint: He writes a restaurant column for the Cape Gazette. ‘Nuff said.

You might think that a hamburger is the opposite of upscale. Lewes Oyster House’s Damn Good Burger checks all the boxes for upscale: Wagyu beef, Benton’s hickory-smoked country bacon and sharp cheese. On an onion roll. They served a slider version at the media party, and the only reason I didn’t beg for another was the fear of appearing indecorous. (Funny, that never bothered me before ....)

I’d love to tell you about some of the desserts that pastry chef Nicole Viscount has in store for her guests. But she, along with Sous Chef Dillon Walker and longtime beach barkeep Sean Norris, has instructed me to not spoil the surprise. It’s three against one, so I’ll curb my enthusiasm and leave it to you to explore what these people have waiting for you at 108 Second St., across from Touch of Italy in downtown Lewes. A reservation link may be had by emailing Enjoy.

  • 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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