Dollars & Sense
Community leaders, educators, businesspeople and elected officials will join together to raise public awareness regarding current economic issues at the 22nd Annual Sussex County Today & Tomorrow Conference. The event will be hosted on Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 7:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Carter Partnership Center at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown.
Following welcoming remarks by Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent, Delaware Tech President Mark T. Brainard, and Vice President and Campus Director Ileana Smith, the morning will include information that could be important to Sussex County employers.
The conference will include a statistical update by Workforce Analyst Ed Simon of the Delaware Economic Development Office and a keynote address by Sam Calagione, founder of Dogfish Head Brewery.
There will also be an hour reserved for Delaware Tech’s 1 Million Cups initiative, a partnership effort with the Kauffman Foundation to support entrepreneurship nationwide. The two presenters will be Rob Rider of Body & Soul Fitness and Katey Evans of the Frozen Farmer.
The benefits and challenges of a workplace with a mix of generations is well-known. What can make the blend interesting is that a few common stereotypes continue to exist, as people attribute certain characteristics to certain age groups.
For example, Baby Boomers (ages 50 to mid-60s) are supposed to be old-school; members of Gen X (ages 35 to 50) are supposed to be self-entitled; and members of Gen Y (ages 18 to 35) are supposed to be to be lazy and aloof.
Then there’s Zack, Sean and Ben from Sussex County, who refuse to be part of the stereotype. They’re Gen Y professionals building their businesses from the ground-up, and, no, they’re not just selling lemonade for nickels.
Zack King grew-up in Ocean View. He’s a member of Gen Y, at 27.
King currently owns his own restaurant and distillery on Route 1. He built Delaware Distilling Company from the ground up in 2012. Now he runs a successful restaurant and distills more than a dozen spirits for use in the restaurant and for retail sale and distribution.
“I like to surround myself with people that are dedicated, hardworking and passionate about what they do, regardless of the generation,” said King. “We have key employees from 25 to 65 years old, and it works. I’m not saying we don’t have our share of turnover, like most businesses in the area. It’s just important to recognize talent and keep those people happy.”
There’s been a change in scenery along Route 26 in Clarksville in recent weeks, with Hocker’s Super Center’s revamped billboard at the corner of Routes 26 and 17.
Hocker said the digital billboard received approval on the county, state and federal levels prior to its installation.
“It has been a four-year process. I went through every proper channel I needed to go through to get 100 percent approved,” said Gerry Hocker. “I first started with the County, and got approval from the County. Then I had to get approval from the State. There were a lot of meetings. It took a lot of time.
“I went through every proper channel… Looking back now, I don’t know how I did it… other than determination, perseverance and respect.”
The billboard, which was upgraded in August, is a state-of-the-art, double-sided digital billboard, with each side measuring 300 square feet, and is available for rental by interested parties or advertisers.
G&E Supermarket and Hocker’s Super Center have been Hocker-family-owned and -operated businesses for more than 50 years. Along with its deli, supercenter, gas station and convenience store, Hocker’s also offers catering services.
Last month, Hocker’s added a new food trailer to its Hocker’s BBQ fleet, continuing to expand their catering business.
“It’s just another avenue of our business where we like to diversify,” said Gerry Hocker. “The downturn of the economy kind of affected everybody. We were affected, as well, with our businesses. We looked into where we could diversify and what we could expand into, and avenues we could take that our competition couldn’t.”
“You have a lot of competition come in. You have to do things that your competition can’t, being that we’re locally owned,” added Greg Hocker. “We can branch out and do those other things that the other brand stores can’t do.”
Greg Hocker said the catering business and barbecue trailer started small but have continued to grow.
“People start asking about certain things that we had never even thought about making,” said Greg Hocker. “We started experimenting and making it, and now we can make pretty much just about anything anybody wants.”
When SoDel Concepts opened NorthEast Seafood Kitchen in May 2005, the restaurant was a bit of a gamble. Chef Matt Haley, founder of SoDel Concepts, had a solid history of success in the hospitality industry. However, NorthEast Seafood Kitchen is located in a strip mall in Ocean View, which in 2005 was just starting to experience growth. It was just a few miles from Route 1, but would residents and tourists venture inland?
They did and they do.
“NorthEast Seafood Kitchen might be the greatest SoDel success story,” said Scott Kammerer, the current president and CEO of SoDel Concepts, which owns eight coastal restaurants, Plate Catering, Big Thunder Roadside Kitchen, a food truck, and hospitality management and consulting divisions. “Today, it’s an incredibly busy year-round restaurant, and it has an incredibly loyal clientele, who support the restaurant and the staff.”
On Friday, Oct. 2, from 5 to 7 p.m., the restaurant is celebrating its milestone anniversary with happy-hour drink specials, appetizers and the debut of a commemorative video, which will be shown on the half-hour during that time period. The video was created by W. Films and SoDel Films, and was directed by Rob Waters.
For Dick Heidenberger, taking the helm of Bethany Beach’s newest oceanfront restaurant was a move that made a lot of sense.
The endeavor began back in January as a conversation with Jack Burbage, owner of the new Bethany Beach Ocean Suites/Residence Inn. Burbage is also Heidenberger’s landlord at the Bethany Beach eateries Mango’s and Bethany Blues. Once he took a look at the hotel that was still under construction and the plans for the restaurant space, Heidenberger said, he decided to jump onboard.
The rest of the winter brought a flurry of preparations for Heidenberger and partners Steve Montgomery and Jim Weisgerber, Heidenberger said. The trio quickly began assembling a team of people to bring their vision to life. A crucial part of that process was hiring chef Danny Somoza and director of operations Donna Serafina.
“The two of them really put together our playbook here,” Heidenberger said.
That playbook includes a “very innovative menu” that features the freshest ingredients possible. To that end, 99 Sea Level works with a number of local food producers — including, but not limited to: Adkins Produce of Millsboro, Bennett Orchards of Frankford, Fishkiller Lobster Shack of Dagsboro and Sea Eagle Fish Company of Selbyville, in addition to farms and seafood companies from all over the Delmarva Peninsula.
From wild-caught salmon to free-range chicken, the menu features the freshest ingredients available, Heidenberger said. And from those ingredients, “everything that is served here is made fresh, in-house,” he said.
The crowning touch on the 99 Sea Level menu is the Seafood Tower, designed to be as beautiful to look at as it is to eat. The tower comes in three sizes and features blue-point Chincoteague oysters, steamed shrimp, Broadwater clams, steamed Prince Edward Island mussels and steamed Alaskan crab clusters.
The location of the restaurant, which seats 90 inside and 100 outside, is a huge part of what makes it unique — steps from the boardwalk and the dunes, it is one of a very few oceanfront restaurants in the Bethany Beach area. The wide porch, graced with elegant columns and fitted very simply with potted palms, was cool and pleasant even on a recent hot, humid afternoon, with ceiling fans adding to the breeze from the ocean.
As soon as Emilie Bonano realized that she enjoyed marketing, she wanted to do that in a tourist location. That makes her new position as communications manager for the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce even more fitting.
What is the role of communications manager? “It’s all-encompassing,” she said. She’ll handle all press releases, newsletters, social media and email lists, but also creating, developing and selling ads for Chamber publications.
“Working for such a wonderful organization that really brings all of the tourism businesses together all in one, and being able to make this community united and getting the [word] out there for everyone” really excited her about this job, she said.
Bonano said she wanted to join a group that makes people and tourists “feel at home when they visit,” and get “the community united, and getting our tourists here going to the businesses that are members of the Chamber.”
The Chamber staff was delighted with her experience in marketing, event planning and recruiting.
From wine night every Thursday in the off-season, to group trips up to New York City and the shop’s mascot — a dog named Evelyn — Christine’s Consignments in Ocean View is not your average consignment shop.
But that just might be the reason for the store’s success. Since opening the doors in 2010, owner Christine Hinz has even been able to open up a second location in Rehoboth, catering to men’s clothing. So to celebrate the store’s five-year anniversary, she’s rewarding the customers who have made it all possible with a 25 percent off sale for Labor Day weekend.
“The whole store — everything’s going to be 25 percent off,” Hinz explained. “I’ve never done that before, and I won’t do that again until my 10-year anniversary.”
Under the tagline “A trendy to place to shop,” the Ocean View location caters to local women and carries items ranging from women’s clothing and shoes to an array of jewelry, handbags, home decor and even furniture — offering some of the top names in designer merchandise, without the designer price tags.
“I’m very selective. We love designer,” she said. “We love Louis Vuitton, Tori Burch. We get a lot of Coach, Cole Hahn. Then we have a lot of sterling silver jewelry and some gold.”
The Beebe Medical Foundation announced this week that it will hold a new fundraising raffle, for a 2015 Jeep Wrangler donated by Megee Motors of Georgetown. All the proceeds from the Jeep raffle will benefit Beebe Healthcare’s Tunnell Cancer Center, located at the Beebe Health Campus on John J. Williams Highway (Route 24) in Rehoboth Beach.
ResortQuest Real Estate announced this week that Richard “Rich” Flaim has joined the firm’s Bethany Beach/Hickman Beach Plaza West office on Coastal Highway near Bethany Beach.
When Christian Heneghan was looking for a local roaster to supply the beans for Drifting Grounds, the new coffee shop on Route 26 in Bethany Beach, he had two main requirements: he wanted a roaster big enough to be able to offer high-quality, unique beans for his brews, but also wanted one that was small enough to be able to cater to his requests directly. That’s exactly what he found with Homestead Coffee Roasters.
“I wanted good and interesting beans, and then I wanted someone who would work with me,” Heneghan explained. “These guys are big enough that they can handle the summer rush, and they’re small enough where I won’t get lost in the shuffle.”
With the Delaware River Valley-based roasters bringing the beans, Heneghan has been brewing up the roasts from Guatemala, Columbia, Honduras and beyond — with one goal in mind.
Tradition runs deep at Tom & Terry’s Seafood Market in Ocean View.
For 32 years, Tom and Mary Ellen Ball provided local patrons with the highest quality seafood that they could bring in. Not only have the crabcakes been made with the same recipe for more than 20 years — they’ve been made by the same person. And not only do the employees keep coming back, summer after summer, but now so do some of their kids.
So when it came time to retire, the Balls went to Joe and Cat Godleski, who they knew would be able to not only carry on the tradition they had built but carry it forward for the next generation.
“I originally met Tom and Mary Ellen when I moved back here after college. That was my first restaurant gig down here, was at Tom & Terry’s on [Route] 54,” said Joe Godleski. “We kept in touch over the years, and last year they asked Cat and I if we wanted to buy the place. They wanted to retire.”
You never know what you’re going to stumble upon at Dana’s Pantry. But to Dana Banks, who also owns The Parkway restaurant right down the block, that’s kind of the point.
The Dairy Queen is one of the very few businesses in Fenwick Island that has been in the same location for more than 60 years. It was opened by Virgil Willey in 1952. Willey was the school principal in Bridgeville, and he opened and closed the “treat store,” as it was known, according to the school summer vacation schedule.
Lanta Conaway bought the store 10 years ago to be a family business. She and her husband, Don Conaway, are both Realtors and have lived in Fenwick Island all their lives. In fact, Lanta’s grandparents on both sides lived there.
“I remember when it was just a walk-up with a single window,” she said. “I even worked here as a teenager for a while. At first, they just sold vanilla, chocolate and twist cones — always with a curly-Q on top — and then milkshakes and malts, followed by banana splits. It was always called soft-serve, as real ice cream has 4-percent milk and ours is 2-percent milk.”
“They built this structure to last,” said Don Conaway. “The concrete was dug into the ground and the later additions to accommodate the open flame brazier, and then eat-in seating, are equally sound. Even in the 1962 storm, when many of the local cottages were destroyed, and recently during Sandy, no damage was done here.”
You’ve picked up your fresh popcorn. You’ve ordered your boardwalk french fries and you’ve even washed them down with a few of your favorite local cocktails. But, according the owners of the new Jetty Deli & Coffee Shop, you’ve still got one more thing to mark off on your culinary checklist before leaving the Bethany Beach boardwalk.
“We want to be the sandwich experience here in town — it’s for the professional sandwich-eater,” said Jetty head chef and co-owner Robbie Bedell. “We want the people from out of town to get the local experience.”
A Sussex County native and chef in the area for 22 years, Bedell teamed up with Ba Roos Ice Cream business partner Matt Merrick, Bethany Beach Books’ owner Jackie Inman Burns and lifelong friend Matt Burns to do just that — opening the doors to the team’s new venture earlier this month.
The sun was out, the live music was playing, and all hands were on deck when one of the area’s most unique venues held its official grand opening near Bethany Beach last Thursday.
“We wanted to build something that we thought would fit into the community, something that really matches the nature of this area,” said Brent Poffenberger, co-owner of Bethany’s newest watering hole, Bethany Boathouse.
The latest venture from Poffenberger and Tom Neville — who also own the Cottage Café, located across from Boathouse on the west side of Route 1 — the family-friendly restaurant and bar was designed to resemble a historic lifesaving station, and features both an indoor bar and the outdoor Gazebo Bar, in addition to both outdoor and indoor seating.
“People have been looking for something like this in the area, waiting for it,” said Boathouse General Manger Rich Beaney. “This is gonna be a destination.”
Early education has become a hot topic for parents, with a goal of getting children started on a good path. That’s why GiggleBugs Early Learning Center hopes to fill a gap for children ages 3 months to 12 years in Millsboro.
“This is my home county. This is my passion. I’ve known since a very young age that I’ve wanted to open my own center,” said owner Jennifer Spinks.
Jennifer and Rich Spinks bring years of experience to the table, having operated three similar centers in West Virginia.
“At our center in West Virginia, we had some start with us at 6 weeks and stay with us through the school-age program,” Spinks said.
After moving to Sussex County, they saw a need for local educational childcare.
“They’re full with waitlists,” Spinks said of other centers. “There are families that are unable to provide high-quality centers for their children.”
Vine’s Creek Nursery is bringing big changes to its Frankford location. Its new building, the FlutterBy House, offers both unique shopping and picturesque views 8 miles west of Bethany Beach, just off of Omar Road. A ribbon-cutting to celebrate the shop’s opening was held on Friday, May 15, with a grand opening ceremony the next day that featured a live butterfly release.
“I’d like to introduce our new home and garden store at Vine’s Creek Nursery: The FlutterBy House,” said owner Tom Lowe, “It’s a unique store with unique gifts and foods. We’re very excited about it.”
The FlutterBy House offers everything from lamps and wreaths to birdhouses, sunhats, wind chimes and other décor. Also in stock are fresh Amish baked goods, including pies, breads, cakes, sticky buns, whoopie pies, fudge, gourmet popcorn, cookies, cream cheese spreads and more.
You know them all by name — mostly, because they’re all kind of the same.
First, there was Off the Hook in Bethany Beach. Before long, Just Hooked followed in Fenwick Island. Then, more success. More restaurants. More puns. Eventually, Hooked opened up in Ocean City, Md.
But just when you thought Steve Hagen and the Off the Hook Restaurant Group were running out of names, they’re at it again — launching Hooked Up Ale House & Raw Bar in Millville this week, their fourth restaurant in just six years.
And, this time, there’s a real hook.
“It’s totally different than anything else that we’re doing,” said Hagen of the new venture. “We want to take the same concept of fresh products and original sets and put them into things that appeal to everything and everybody.”
While Hagen’s first three restaurants, of course, all offer their fair share of variety in terms of both menu and atmosphere, Hooked Up aims to break the mold by offering a more casual gastropub setting.
And with 24 beers on draft, 24 screens, the NFL “Sunday Ticket,” a long and lively raw bar, a game room equipped with pool tables and murals dedicated to local teams, and plenty of seating — the approach is not only new for the OTH Group but, according to Hagen, the local area in general.
It was a day more than a decade in the making, as Bethany Beach town council members were joined by state and federal officials last Friday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened the Town’s long-planned and, now, completed Streetscape project.
The redesign of a little more than two blocks that make up the town’s primary commercial district included the removal of overhead utility lines and the related poles; new lighting; reorganization of streetside parking, swapping angled parking to the exteriors of the street and parallel parking to the median; redefined bicycle lanes; wider sidewalks, free of the obstruction of utility poles; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant curbs and crosswalks featuring inlaid brick; and changes aimed at calming traffic in an area with some of the heaviest pedestrian traffic in the state.
The idea behind Streetscape arose in 2001, with the Town’s beautification subcommittee. Numerous design ideas were floated over the years, with a mixed response from the council and the public. After considering public input on a series of initial designs, the committee did come up with a set of goals for the project:
Memorial Day marks the official kickoff of the summer season, and if this year’s holiday weekend was any indication of what’s ahead, summer 2015 will be a great time for area businesses.
A boxing injury pulled Bobby Hammond out of the ring when he was younger, but physical therapy helped him climb back in the ring a few months later.
Today, the physical therapist helps other people regain their strength through rehabilitation at Atlantic Physical Therapy’s newest location, in West Fenwick.
“Our goal is to implement a life change,” said Hammond, adding that he hopes patients “live a healthier life, a pain-free life, which ultimately is a safer life.”
His father, Robert Hammond, first opened the Ocean Pines, Md., location of APT in 1998, adding locations in Salisbury, Md., Laurel, Del., Millsboro and just recently in West Ocean City, Md.
“People come in for such a broad range of things,” said Bobby Hammond, company vice president. “Everyone’s treatment is tailored to them.”
Therapists help with previous fractures, falls, post-operative care, stroke victims, Parkinson’s patients, sports injuries, neurological rehab, automobile- and work-related injuries and more.
“We go through exercises with the patients. It’s constant one-on-one supervision,” Hammond said. “We’re coaching them through the whole experience, and I think that makes us unique.”
He said empathy is part of his approach to physical therapy.
“We treat them the same way I would treat my mother. You have to have compassion.”
The Board of the Delaware Botanic Gardens announced this week that Susan Ryan, owner of Good Earth Farm & Markets, has been selected to become the new president of the Delaware Botanic Gardens.
Vacation home sales have increased nationally for the fourth straight year and have now soared to levels not seen since before the start of the Great Recession, according to data released recently by the Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR) and the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
While Karimali for Hair may be offering some new services, including makeup and full body waxing at their new location in Fenwick Island, they’re still offering the same service that has made their customers feel like family for the past seven years.
“Most of my friends are my clients,” explained Gina Karimalis, who owns the shop with her husband, Costa. “They turn into my family. I maybe met them doing their hair, but they become my family.”
As a professional hairstylist in their area throughout her entire life — much like most of her entire staff, with which she has worked for just as long — to Karimalis, the inviting, family-like atmosphere is just the way it’s always been.
“You’d be surprised. This is a hangout,” she said. “To me, it just seems so normal.”
But with Karimalis working on both women’s and men’s hair, and even children’s hair, it’s not just the girls gabbing in the shop.
After taking over the Dagsboro-area business formerly known as Goodfella’s, Lovetti’s Pizza owner Brian Lovett knew that it might take some time to establish a reputation for his new venture. But he also knew that the best way to do that was simple: good food and good service. And that’s exactly what he set out to do.
“I take a lot of pride in my food,” said Lovett. “It’s like mom and dad are making the food.”
While he’s just recently set up shop near Dagsboro, Lovett has been in the restaurant industry throughout his life, getting his knowledge of Italian cuisine by training with chefs in Philadelphia, where he’s originally from. That knowledge includes all types of pizza, but Lovetti’s offers up much more.
“I do more than just pizza,” he said. “I make my own chicken wings, mozzarella sticks… I do everything from scratch. That’s the major difference here.”
Carlie Carey is excited beyond control.
It’s not hard to tell after walking through the door of her newly renovated restaurant, One Coastal in Fenwick Island, and being greeted with a high-five, a hug and unprecedented enthusiasm.
But she’s not just excited about last weekend’s grand re-opening event with the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce — she’s excited because of all the new happenings at One Coastal as they approach what will be their first full summer season in business, in which they’ll be able to see all of their off-season planning and changes come to fruition.
“We can’t wait to start the year,” said Carey. “This year we had time to hand-pick everything. Every menu item, every staff member, every piece of fruit or vegetable that goes into one of our juices — it’s all done on purpose. Our personality is shining through this year, and I am so proud that we have the staff to make that happen.”
For 23 years, Sandy Putz has been a sales representative for Avon beauty products, and she was recognized for her efforts last month at the Avon President’s Luncheon, with the Spirit of Avon award.
Zen Spa’s new “blowout bar” is now in operation near Fenwick Island, gaining recognition as the only one of its kind on Delmarva.
“This is different. There is nothing like this around here,” explained owner Stacey Wetzstein. “It’s a bigger-city thing. Everybody has a hairstylist at home. When you’re on vacation, come in. You’re going to get a fantastic wash. You’re going to get blown-out in style.”
The concept is so new and unique to the area that some customers have never ever heard of it, she said.
“A lot of people don’t know what a blowout bar is,” said Wetzstein, going on to explain that the basic service includes a shampoo, deep conditioning, head massage and then finally a “blowout” hair dry — for those heading out on the town or who just don’t want to do their own hair and makeup.
Imagination Furniture building upon customer creativity
She had been to all of the high-end furniture design centers. She had flipped through all of the catalogs. She had toured all of the showrooms. But Judy Wickes couldn’t find anyone who could offer her the home media center she envisioned.
Until she discovered Imagination Furniture.
“They listened to all my ideas and design concepts and turned our wall into a reality,” said Wickes. “We could not be happier with the results.”
For founder George Meringolo, it’s a story that embodies the mission of a company that he literally built with his own two hands.