Cottage/Boathouse owners receive Lighthouse Award

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Tom Neville, left, and Brent Poffenberger address the crowd after winning the prestigious Lighthouse Award from the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of CommerceCoastal Point • Laura Walter: Tom Neville, left, and Brent Poffenberger address the crowd after winning the prestigious Lighthouse Award from the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of CommerceA tiny lighthouse is a big honor for Bethany Beach restaurateurs.

Tom Neville and Brent Poffenberger received the prestigious Lighthouse Award, similar to a lifetime achievement award, from the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce last week.

Together, the men own restaurants that face each other on Route 1, near Bethany Beach: the Cottage Café and Bethany Boathouse. Their successful partnership began years ago with their studying hotel, motel and restaurant management together at Shepherd College in West Virginia and has continued through to this award, presented Oct. 22 at the Chamber’s annual installation and awards dinner.

The award “recognizes a longtime Chamber member that contributes outstanding leadership and devotion to both the Chamber and the community,” said incoming Chamber President Richard Mais.

“The winner of this year’s award truly represents the spirit of this award,” Mais said. “They’re always there for the Chamber to help at our events. They’re always there for the community. If anybody needs a fundraiser or help with something, they’re always there.”

“Thank you very much,” Poffenberger said upon receiving the award. “We’re always glad to help out in the community, and we know it’s not only helping the community, it’s also helping our business, so thank you all very much.”

Dale Bellinger of Bellinger’s Jewelers presented a handcrafted glass replica of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse to the winners.

Poffenberger recalled the last time a little glass lighthouse was in the Cottage Café, which was when the Chamber awards were hosted there “years and years ago.”

The night also featured the presentation of $2,932 to the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation from the proceeds from the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival.

Ron Lewis of Sustaining Support LLC, received the Arlene Hauck Ambassador of the Year Award for being “a gentle giant who does so much and always with a smile.”

The public voted for the other five awards.

One Coastal restaurant won New Member of the Year for immediately becoming active in the Chamber after joining the group.

Brigit Taylor of ResortQuest won Member of the Year for being “driven, responsive and highly involved.”

SoDel Concepts won the Inspiring Business award for continuing to innovate and serve customers in the community, even in the face of tragedy.

Tidepool Toys & Games won Best in Business for creativity, collaboration and providing high customer service above industry standards.

The Joshua M. Freeman Foundation won the Community Spirit award for providing access to the arts and supporting other local initiatives.

The event also featured the swearing in of the 2015-2016 Chamber board of directors, and the incoming president addressed the crowd.

“We have a very diverse group of business that are members. We all help support each other. I really appreciate that, and I enjoy doing that,” said Mais.

“We have a great staff that plans our events and activities, almost flawlessly, weather permitting,” Mais joked.

“The Chamber has come a long way since its creation in 1976. This year alone we had 95 new members,” Kami Banks said in leading the anniversary toast. “In 1976, Sussex County had only slightly more than 80,000 people. We now, present day — we’re almost to 250,000.”

The restaurant full of people raised their glasses to the next 40 years of Chamber service.