As you plan your return to Rehoboth Beach for the 2021 spring and summer season you should know what to expect as the town prepares to bounce back from last year’s pandemic closures and restrictions.
Rehoboth Beach is all of one square mile in the middle of Sussex County, Del, which for decades has been a destination for the LGBTQ community. One of the reasons for that is the work over many years of CAMP Rehoboth, the LGBTQ community center. Its executive director, David Mariner, said, “CAMP Rehoboth remains optimistic and excited about summer 2021 in Rehoboth Beach. Many new restaurants and businesses are opening around us, coupled with fun events and happenings. The CAMP Rehoboth staff and volunteers are busy planning for the community. Sure, we can’t predict when large gatherings will return or the pandemic will end, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t good, clean, safely distanced fun to be had for all.”
It is anticipated this will be a very different experience from the 2020 season when the pandemic was just beginning. While the pandemic isn’t over and we still must be careful, wearing masks and washing hands, the business community at the beach is ready and prepared for the crowds to return. They have been working hard over the past year to make sure this summer is safe and exciting. And the town recently restored the barriers allowing many restaurants to expand outdoor service to sidewalks and parking spaces.
The Blade spoke to a number of business owners who see this as a chance to make up for what many consider a lost year. Joe Mack, who owns Double Dippers on 1st Street, said, “I will be opening for my 23rd season March 26. I am the original owner — Tom Gile, my business partner, passed in 2015 — and look forward to a huge season as people get their lives back.” It’s good old-fashioned ice cream served with a smile. He even shared, “It’s Joe Biden’s favorite ice cream parlor and his favorite is chocolate chip in a waffle cone.”
Speaking of President Biden, many expect to see him at his home at the beach. He has always been a Rehoboth booster. He and first lady Jill Biden love grabbing lunch from Lori’s Oy Veh Café in the CAMP courtyard. Proprietor Lori Kline said she thinks “summer of 2021 is going to be great! I believe folks are ready and hopeful for vaccines and we are in a much better and positive place.” Her chicken salad is still to die for.
Bob Suppies, co-owner of the The Pines and Aqua Grill, which weather permitting plans to reopen on April 9, wants everyone to know, “This summer will be an amazing time to visit Rehoboth Beach. Although I believe some state mandates will still be in place, we have learned over the past year how to safely offer food and drinks and continue with entertainment.”
Former Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Lisa Schlosser wants visitors to know “Rehoboth is open for an exciting season. The sun is shining, our favorite shops and restaurants are open with lots of new outdoor dining. We can’t wait to see the community come back together for fun at the beach.”
It is not only restaurant owners and politicians who are signaling Rehoboth is ready for business. Lee Ann Wilkinson, Realtor and CEO of The Lee Ann Wilkinson Group, said, “All beach businesses, including our real estate offices, have worked throughout the winter to welcome people back to the beach safely. Real estate hasn’t slowed down since last year, and we anticipate and look forward to a very busy summer season.”
One of the great places ready to welcome people back is The Purple Parrot, according to owners Hugh Fuller and Troy Roberts. Fuller said, “This coming season is like no other and so many hopes ride on this year as if it is the first season for all of us. 2021 has brought us so much hope already and the energy in the air is already bringing promises of more good things to come. This summer will be one for the record books not just financially, but emotionally.
Here is to 2021 and to new beginnings.”
Many more of the town’s best restaurants are anticipating the new season, including the always great Eden Restaurant and its more casual cousin Jam, both on the beach block of Baltimore Avenue. Also returning for the 2021 season is the veteran Back Porch, and Meghan Kee’s award-winning La Fable, Houston White, and her new offering, the Italian spot Delmata. Then there’s Port 251 with its popular Sunday drag brunch right on Rehoboth Avenue; and the grand dame of dining in Rehoboth, the Blue Moon. Cafe Azafran and Goolees Grill are also ready to welcome visitors. The Coffee Mill is ready and Mel Demascena said the café is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Brashhh on 1st Street celebrates its eighth season. Demascena said “Bob and I are opening another place The Mill Creamery. It will serve local farm fresh ice cream and milk shakes, fresh squeezed juices and desserts, right across from the Coffee Mill in our very happy courtyard.”
Longtime Rehoboth businessman Steve Fallon, who owns Gidget’s Gadgets and now a second place selling vinyl records, Extendedplay, said, “With a new president and the roll out of more vaccinations daily, I would call this the summer of hope. The clouds are opening to bluer skies and our tears for our loved ones who passed will hopefully turn into laughter and new beginnings. Stay safe and see you at the end of the rainbow.”
Then there is Rick and Dave’s Coho’s Market and Grill on Rehoboth Avenue. They took a chance when they opened right in the middle of the pandemic so this will be their first full season. Then there’s Elegant Slumming and Philip Morton Gallery, mainstays on Baltimore Avenue.
There are two new places on 1st Street, giving it a nice upgrade, with the opening of the Square One Grill by the owners of the popular Diego’s Bar and Nightclub. It’s a great spot for the perfectly crafted martini. Also highly anticipated is the opening of Freddie’s Beach Bar by Freddie Lutz in the old Pond space (it moved out to the highway with a reopening planned for April 5).
Don’t forget to make your animals happy and stop into Critter Beach on Rehoboth Avenue. Then partake in the culture of Rehoboth Beach and buy a ticket to a show at the amazing Clear Space Theatre. Their productions over the years have been top-notch and if the small group of residents who are trying to force them out of town finally loses their fight, then Clear Space will have a beautiful new theater in the near future. They are a town treasure.
This will be a summer not to be missed at the beach. So mask up and make your plans early as hotels and home rentals are booking fast.