Perhaps they aren’t serving up the traditional boardwalk fries and ice cream cones that people expect from a beach-based restaurant, but as any local will tell you, The Parkway is a Bethany Beach staple.
The restaurant, located at 114 Garfield Parkway, has been providing customers with a casual fine dining experience for over a decade now. The mouth-watering menu, with dishes ranging from rack of lamb to fresh salmon to crabcakes, is enough to coax anyone inside. Although, as the weather cools down and the summer crowds diminish, the exquisite meals are simply an appetizer of what the Parkway has in store for its patrons.
“Live music gives customers something more to enjoy,” said proprietor Dana Banks.
About a year ago, Banks began booking local entertainers to offer diners an even more comfortable, pleasant evening. “We definitely use as much space as we can for customers in the summer, but I like to bring in local entertainers when the business calms down.”
The Parkway, though casual, with light-fare and children’s-fare menus, gives customers an opportunity to enjoy an elegant night. That stylish tone is captured in the performances by local musicians, bringing a soothing accompaniment to a perfect evening.
Banks said she tries to rotate a variety of musicians, usually single or duo acoustic performances. From the jazz show tunes of Pam Miller, to the delta blues of Chris English to the country warmth of Cherrybud, music at The Parkway is sure to please. Among the current rotation on Thursdays are the Loose Endz Duo and Isabel Umanzor.
The Loose Endz Duo is Christal and Paul Grandell, a husband and wife team who have been sharing popular variety music with listeners for more than 15 years. Originally from the Wilmington area, the couple moved to the southern shores of Delaware in 1979. Music has always been a big part of their lives.
“My father was a musician.” said Paul Grandell, who was playing guitar when he was 16. “He would go out and play every weekend. He got me hooked.” Since then, Paul has taught himself bass, too.
“Singing was my first true love,” Christal Grandell admitted. “I began singing in church youth choir, and in junior high school, I took a course to learn to play guitar.”
“Our music is really a wide variety,” said Paul Grandell. “We can play almost any style, though limited to an acoustic duo situation.”
Their lineup consists of songs throughout the decades, including hits from The Beatles, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Doors, Fleetwood Mac and Jewel.
Playing at The Parkway brings a sense of comfort to the couple. “We’ve been here a while and we know the area and the people,” said Paul Grandell. “We always see friends and regulars come in when we play.”
The Parkway brings a welcoming and professional ambiance with its reputation as a tablecloth restaurant.
“I think that’s what we’re more suited for,” said Christal Grandell. “The atmosphere is great and Dana makes sure it’s really nice.”
Christal Grandell said the duo doesn’t really gear towards the “hootin’ ’n’ hollerin’ party” scene.
“We play with more of a relaxed, background feel,” said Paul Grandell.
“A lot of what we play is ‘toe-tapping’ music,” Christal Grandell added. “That’s the kind I like best.”
Another favorite, Isabel Umanzor, brings a vastly different style to The Parkway, indulging diners in beautiful serenades from her native Santiago, Chile. She has lived in Delaware for only five years but greatly appreciates the area.
“I love the people here. They are so friendly and always smiling,” Umanzor said.
It took no time at all before Umanzor made a name for herself, sharing social-political views through original music. “I’ve been singing all my life,” Umanzor said. “I also taught myself to play guitar.”
She started her singing career as a young girl with protest groups, under her father’s encouragement, in a style of folk music known as Canto Nuevo. It developed in South America as a form of resistance against Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in the 1970s. Widely used today, Canto Nuevo is shared through South American and Cuban writing and music.
“Almost everything I write has a social-political feel,” Umanzor said. The views in her writing are comparable to Joni Mitchell or Bob Dylan, she added.
Though it took some time before she could write and sing songs in English, Umanzor is able to share her ideas and beliefs through both English and Spanish. She said that singing in her native tongue doesn’t discourage listeners.
“Some people can understand my music. I think there’s something they can feel and I like that. Other times, people can’t understand the songs, but I’ve seen them come back every week I play. There’s something they connect with. Children, too, really like my music when they hear it,” she said.
Umanzor said American music is very different than what she had growing up in Chile. “It’s fun to hear new styles and take what I can learn from that,” she said.
In addition to writing her original work, Umanzor said she is inspired by many styles of American and Latin music.
Like the Loose Endz Duo, Umanzor has been performing at the Parkway for nearly a year. “The environment is great,” she said. “I enjoy going to a place like The Parkway and capturing the audience. People always come up and say how great their evening was. I really enjoy that.”
The Loose Endz Duo will be at The Parkway on Thursday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. Isabel Umanzor’s next performance will be the following Thursday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m. Dinner reservations can be made by calling (302) 537-7500.