New Bethany Blues satisfies sweet tooth, too
The uncanny success of Southern Delaware barbecue hotspot Bethany Blues is anything but a secret. From award-winning sauces to one of the state’s largest bourbon selections, Bethany Blues has become a staple in Bethany Beach, and now owners plan to sustain the same reputation with a new location in Lewes, with a little help from a familiar face.
After taking a year off due to health issues, Ruthie Parramore is back with the Blues crew, fixing up cakes and desserts that cap off an event or complement a barbecue dinner.
“It feels so good to be back,” said Parramore, whose baking style stems from an age-old family legacy. “I didn’t realize just how much I missed it.”
Her family started Inglenuk in Pennsylvania in 1916, originally a small café that offered tea and toast on the front porch. The recipes and desserts became synonymous with the little stop, and the family quickly found themselves catering to larger and hungrier crowds. It eventually evolved into a homestyle diner, with delectable desserts, including pies and cakes. When she was only 15, Parramore was trained by the diner’s baker, and the tradition has lived on.
“It’s amazing everything I learned,” she said, “and I’m very thankful I did.”
Though she took some time away from baking to bartend across the state, Parramore never departed from baking. She brought the traditional recipes back with Ruthie’s Lovin’ Oven, and introduced her mini-business to Bethany Blues in 2005. Now that the new Bethany Blues location is up and running, she balances her time between Bethany and Lewes, as well as a few bartending shifts at Dewey’s Starboard restaurant, which is also owned by some of the same owners.
Having the familiar face around as the Lewes site opens has been nothing but helpful, according to Jim Weisgerber, one of Bethany Blues’ owners.
“Back when we recruited her to work here from Newark,” said Weisgerber, “we wanted her as a bartender. She has a great personality, and a lot of people recognize her and come to see her.”
Parramore has fans from throughout Delaware, Maryland and the D.C. area, as her friendly smile and warm charm earned her the title of Delaware’s Best Bartender a number of years while working at Klondike Kate’s in Newark and at the Starboard in Dewey.
“It wasn’t until later,” Weisgerber added, “that we found out about her baking. It was all just an added bonus.”
Bethany Blues maintains Parramore’s well-known desserts at both locations, including the brownie with ice cream and chocolate ganache and a strawberry shortcake. In addition, Parramore’s baking keeps her busy catering to private parties, weddings and other special occasions, with birthday and wedding cakes and a slew of desserts baked and prepared fresh to order. She even placed 20th out of more than 500 entrants for her blueberry buckle in a contest run by “The Regis and Kelly Show.”
“We love having her back,” said Weisgerber, “and we’re extremely pleased now she’s in good health. Ruthie’s a great person to have working with us, and it really helps to bring the stress down.”
Kevin Roberts, another co-owner of the Lewes location, noted that it definitely makes things easier with an in-house bakery.
“We can now provide cake orders,” he said. “Before, when people wanted us to put on or cater a party, they’d ask if we have cakes, and we’d have to tell them, ‘No, you’ll need to bring your own.’ Now, Ruthie can provide that, and it really helps to make the whole experience a lot better.”
In the future, Wesigerber said, the restaurant plans to provide a dessert cart, with which Parramore will come by the tables with a little jingle and an assortment of her famous sweets.
“This would be the only place to find something like that,” he said, adding that a meat cart is also in the works, as local butcher Bill Hickman provides all of the fresh prime cuts for the restaurant.
Though Parramore’s duties at Bethany Blues and elsewhere might seem overwhelming, there’s no stopping her. She and Weisgerber also plan to reopen the former Bethany Bakery, in downtown Bethany, beside the Shore Foods grocery store.
“It’s a great little place,” said Weisgerber, “and everybody knows it.”
Loyal customers will be thrilled to learn that the bakery around the corner from Bethany Blues will be re-opening this summer and will carry favorites, such as Ruthie’s sticky buns, which have been a huge hit at the Starboard. Cakes, pastries and Weisgerber’s muffins will also be on hand.
“It’s so great to finally be back,” Parramore said, “and I couldn’t have done it without my husband, Bobby. He’s been a huge help to me, and a great inspiration. He likes it, though, because he and his coworkers at Mountaire are my official taste-testers.”
Parramore’s reputation has already assisted the steady influx of customers at the new location, which is serving north-coastal customers just as the Bethany location has done for years.
“It’s been really exciting since we’ve opened the new restaurant,” said Weisgerber. “A lot of people up this way are glad to see we’re here. A lot of people from this area would come down to Bethany, but it’s a long ride, especially in the summertime. We thought the area was perfect, and, this time, we built from the ground up. We’ve made it how we wanted, and we know a lot more now than we did with our other restaurant.”
Bethany Blues in Lewes has seen some promising numbers as they round out their first month open to the public. Barbecue lovers even waited 90 minutes for dinner in the restaurant’s second weekend open.
“It’s been great,” Weisgerber added. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback, and people are coming in. We’re just trying to do what we do best: give customers a welcoming atmosphere and great barbecue. And, of course, Ruthie’s desserts speak for themselves.”
Stop by Bethany Blues’ new location at 18385 Coastal Highway in Lewes, just north of Jiffy Lube. Lunch is available seven days a week, starting at 11: 30 a.m., with dinner starting at 4 p.m. For more information, call (302) 644-2500 or visit www.bethanyblues.com/lewes.