Dollars & Sense

Hocker’s grows catering offerings

Coastal Point photos • Bob Bertram: G&E Hocker’s and Hocker’s Super Center have added another food trailer to their existing two, to offer the more choices for those looking for a BBQ catering service.Coastal Point photos • Bob Bertram: G&E Hocker’s and Hocker’s Super Center have added another food trailer to their existing two, to offer the more choices for those looking for a BBQ catering service.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.”

NorthEast Seafood Kitchen celebrating 10 anniversary

Coastal Point • Submitted: NorthEast Seafood Kitchen offers a patio dining area, as well as an interior dining room.Coastal Point • Submitted: NorthEast Seafood Kitchen offers a patio dining area, as well as an interior dining room.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.

Bethany Blues/Mango’s crew expands dining options at Bethany’s new hotel

Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Danny Somoza and Donna Serafina combined their efforts to bring 99 Sea Level to reality for a trio of partners, Dick Heidenberger, Steve Montgomery and Jim Weisgerber. The restaurant is located in the new Bethany Beach Ocean Suites.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Danny Somoza and Donna Serafina combined their efforts to bring 99 Sea Level to reality for a trio of partners, Dick Heidenberger, Steve Montgomery and Jim Weisgerber. The restaurant is located in the new Bethany Beach Ocean Suites.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.

A shuffling of dream jobs brings new Chamber employee

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Emilie Bonano recently joined the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce as the communications manager.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Emilie Bonano recently joined the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce as the communications manager.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.

Christine’s Consignments celebrating five years with Labor Day sale

Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Christine Hinz with Chrisinte’s Consignments mascot, Evelyn, pose for a photo in the Ocean View shop.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Christine Hinz with Chrisinte’s Consignments mascot, Evelyn, pose for a photo in the Ocean View shop.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.”

Jeep donation to raise funds for Tunnell Cancer Center

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.

Flaim joins ResortQuest Real Estate’s Bethany Beach office

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.

Drifting Grounds Café settles in Bethany Beach

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Christian Heneghan and Erin Dresler-Looper behind the counter of Drifting Grounds, Bethany Beach's newest coffee house.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell: Christian Heneghan and Erin Dresler-Looper behind the counter of Drifting Grounds, Bethany Beach's newest coffee house.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.

Tom & Terry’s Too: New owners building upon proud local tradition

Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell Joe and Cat Godleski are the new owners of Tom & Terry's Seafood Market in Ocean View, carrying on a proud tradition and bringing some new concepts, too.Coastal Point • Tripp Colonell Joe and Cat Godleski are the new owners of Tom & Terry's Seafood Market in Ocean View, carrying on a proud tradition and bringing some new concepts, too.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.”

Dana’s Pantry opens up the cupboard on the Bethany Beach boardwalk

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.

Fenwick DQ is a local staple and summertime treat

Special to the Coastal Point • Christina Weaver: Lanta Conaway, left, Brett Conaway, center, and Don Conaway, right, run the Fenwick Island Dairy Queen as a family business, with Lanta and Don’s other son, Don “D.C.” Conaway, and their daughter, Candace. A new favorite at the shop is a triple chocolate brownie à la mode, while the 60-year history of the DQ in Fenwick Island is clearly on display in a local history book.Special to the Coastal Point • Christina Weaver: Lanta Conaway, left, Brett Conaway, center, and Don Conaway, right, run the Fenwick Island Dairy Queen as a family business, with Lanta and Don’s other son, Don “D.C.” Conaway, and their daughter, Candace. A new favorite at the shop is a triple chocolate brownie à la mode, while the 60-year history of the DQ in Fenwick Island is clearly on display in a local history book.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.”

Jetty Deli brings ‘the sandwich experience’ to the Bethany boardwalk

Coastal Point photos • R. Chris Clark: The Jetty Deli & Coffee Shop held its ribbon cutting and grand opening event on Tuesday, June 30.Coastal Point photos • R. Chris Clark: The Jetty Deli & Coffee Shop held its ribbon cutting and grand opening event on Tuesday, June 30.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.

Bethany Boathouse casts off with grand opening

Coastal Point photos • R. Chris Clark: Brent Poffenberger, Tom Neville, chamber members and patrons celebrate at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Bethany Boathouse on June 18. Bethany Boathouse is located across the street from their other venture, The Cottage Cafe.Coastal Point photos • R. Chris Clark: Brent Poffenberger, Tom Neville, chamber members and patrons celebrate at the grand opening and ribbon cutting of Bethany Boathouse on June 18. Bethany Boathouse is located across the street from their other venture, The Cottage Cafe.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.”

GiggleBugs Early Learning Center spouts in Millsboro

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Jennifer and Rich Spinks are ready to open the doors to GiggleBugs Early Learning Center in Millsboro.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Jennifer and Rich Spinks are ready to open the doors to GiggleBugs Early Learning Center in Millsboro.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.”

FlutterBy House celebrates opening with ribbon-cutting

Coastal Point • Submitted: FlutterBy House held it’s ribbon-cutting event on Friday, May 15. The new store is located at 31854 James Lowe Road.Coastal Point • Submitted: FlutterBy House held it’s ribbon-cutting event on Friday, May 15. The new store is located at 31854 James Lowe Road.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.