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    Coastal Point photo • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandy Pony owners Brea Reeves and Ben Wang, top, show off a dozen of their made-to-order donuts.Coastal Point photo • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandy Pony owners Brea Reeves and Ben Wang, top, show off a dozen of their made-to-order donuts.They may have been still dodging rice, but for the young newlywed couple, it was time to make the doughnuts.

    After saying their “I do’s” on June 3, Ben Wang and Brea Reeves were off to the Bethany Beach area just one week later, for the grand opening of their new food truck, Sandy Pony Donuts, on Saturday, June 10, trading in a honeymoon suite for a sweet honeymoon.

    “You could say this is our honeymoon,” said Reeves, with a laugh. “We literally are together every second of every day now.”

    “Hey, it was her decision to want to work with me,” added Wang, joking back. “I’m probably the harder one to work with, because I always manage to get in the way somehow. But it’s just always worked out.”

    While it may just recently be official, marriage-document-wise, the longtime couple and unofficial doctors of dough are by no means strangers to working side by side, battering together for better or worse for going on the last half-decade.

    In fact, the Bethany-area shop, next to Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop on Route 1, is actually the third stop on the Sandy Pony Express — the original location opening up in Chincoteague, Va., (also next to the original Atlantic Shoals) now three years ago and second location in Annapolis, Md., being added soon after.

    Put simply, when it comes to Sandy Pony, this ain’t their first rodeo.

    “We have definitely learned a lot over the last couple of years,” said Reeves of the partnership. “We couldn’t do it alone. We have to have each other.”

    “That first summer was kind of when I knew, ‘Hey, I could marry this girl,’” added Wang. “This truck is actually double the size of the one in Chincoteague, though, so that helps, too.”

    After making it work long-distance for the first two years of the relationship, the then 24-year olds and recent college grads decided to take the next step and go into business together, with the idea to make doughnuts on-demand in the summer of 2014.

    Wang had always been his own boss, starting his own building company in Annapolis out of college — skills he put back to use to build all three Sandy Pony trucks by hand before Reeves went on to design each one’s layout. Reeves had been working as a photographer for NASA in Wallops Island, Va., after college, but when the first truck caught on sooner than expected, she started making doughnuts full time.

    “Ben gets a good idea, he makes it happen,” said Reeves. “We just kind of tested [the doughnuts] out. As the summer went on, we kept saying to each other, ‘Hey, this would be really good with this’ and coming up with new ideas.”

    From the ‘Sweet 16’ to the ‘27 Club’ (also, açai bowls)

    Since starting out with the original sweet 16, Sandy Pony is now saddled with 26 different doughnut options, all available hot and fresh for fans of “hole foods,” as well as an additional fan favorite on the “secret menu” exclusively for loyal customers and stayed-golden pony-boys (and girls) in the know… (Ask about the “King Neptune.”)

    Cake-for-breakfast can be as simple as pie with the basic “Raw,” or “Ms. Sandy” with cinnamon-sugar, but customers are free to get glazed without confusion along a menu board featuring so-far favorites such as the “Porky Pony,” with honey-glaze, cinnamon-sugar and bacon; “Dirty Banana,” with banana glaze and Oreo crumble; “Strawberry Stallion,” with strawberry glaze and powdered sugar; “Salted Caramel,” with caramel glaze and pretzels; Wang’s own-personal favorite, “Charlie Brown,” with peanut butter glaze and mini chocolate chips; and Reeves’ go-to “Yabba Dabba Doo-Nut,” with honey glaze and Fruity Pebbles, just to name a few.

    Customers are also free to customize from the selection of made-from-scratch original glazes and an array of toppings, all available by the dozen, half-dozen or any other quantity, odd-numbered or no.

    For health nuts looking for something aside from doughnuts, Sandy Pony is also putting its signature spin on the açai bowl — a brand new menu item unique to the Bethany location only.

    “Ours our a little bit different,” said Reeves. “We shave our bowls, rather than blend them. It actually stays colder longer, so on those hot 100-degree days, it’s not just melting away.”

    “The açai bowls have been big for us so far,” added Wang of the custom bowls available with fresh fruit toppings and crunchy granola. “At each location, we try to do a second extra thing. Chincoteague, we do snow cones. In Annapolis, we do bubble tea. And then, here, we’re doing açai bowls.”

    They’re also serving up fresh-brewed coffee from City Dock Coffee out of Annapolis, as well as chai tea and plenty of cooler drinks, including juices and chocolate milk for the kids.

    Less about making dough, more about the local nuts

    Often, while he’s on a mid-day stroll around the harbors of Annapolis, someone will stop Ben Wang and say, “Hey — you’re the doughnut guy!”

    Similarly, Reeves is known simply as “the doughnut lady.”

    However, despite both graduating from nearby Salisbury University, neither knew much about the Bethany Beach area or its local residents before getting to town.

    As soon as they opened up the window on their first day in business, however, that all began to change.

    “I was just outside and I just met these people, and now I already have two workout partners,” said Wang with a laugh, of his new friends who offered to let him use their home gym nearby. “The small-town feel is great. Our customers are becoming our friends. Everyone is congratulating us about getting married. It’s a cool feeling.”

    “Everyone has been super-super-nice,” added Reeves. “This is the first place that we’ve ever gone where we didn’t really know anybody or anything, but so far everyone here has been really welcoming.”

    Now able to spend all their time in Bethany, with a loyal veteran crew minding the stores in Annapolis and Chincoteague, for the recently-hitched honeymooners, getting to know the community through something as simple as a doughnut is what it’s all about.

    “The best part is meeting people. I just like to talk to people and hear their story,” said Wang.

    “We want to become the town’s local doughnut shop. When I see the line out the door and smiles and kids running around, and families happy, and older couples taking a bite out of one of our doughnuts and telling us, ‘This is how it used to be when I was a kid’ — that’s what it’s all about. It’s just the best feeling. It’s just like, ‘Wow, how does it get any better than this?’”

    Sandy Pony Donuts is located at 33230 Coastal Highway, just south of the Sea Colony Market place and right next to Atlantic Shoals Surf Shop on Route 1, south of Bethany Beach. The truck is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    For more information, or a full menu, visit or check out Sandy Pony on Facebook at and Instagram at their handle “@sandyponydoughnuts.”

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    The Ocean View Historical Society is continuing its mission to bring local history to the masses through various programs.

    This weekend, the 2nd Delaware Civil War Volunteers will set up an encampment featuring a reenactment of cooking, musket firing, tenting and camp life during the Civil War, at the Ocean View Historical Complex.

    “I just started to do some research,” said the OVHS’s Richard Nippes. “It sounded really unique, and they seemed to be interested in doing something here in Ocean View. So, one thing led to another, and we came up with a date.”

    The event will take place on June 17 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission to the reenactment costs $5 for OVHS members or $10 for non-members. Children 12 or younger may attend free of charge.

    Those who attend will get to see reenactors dressed in period garb, as if it were the 1860s.

    “It’s not a large number — maybe 10 or 12 people. They will set up a camp how they would for an actual Civil War battle, show how they would cook. They will do marching demonstrations, shoot their guns…”

    Nippes said the event will certainly appeal to those who are interested in the Civil War, but he believes it will have a wider draw.

    “I would think that anyone who has had a history course… It’s one thing to read about it, but to actually see weapons and how difficult it would’ve been for them is another… It’s not every day you have a reenactment in your back yard.”

    Along with the Civil War reenactment, the historical society will also be opening its complex Wednesday afternoons during the summer months.

    “The idea was proposed by [former OVHS president] Carol Psaros… so that people could come and tour the buildings.”

    The summer open-house for the historical complex will run every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m., until Labor Day. Adults and children alike will be able to tour the restored 1860 Tunnell-West family home, a two-seater outhouse and water pump, the town’s first free-standing post office, circa 1889, and Cecile Steele’s first chicken house, circa 1923.

    “This is the third year we have decided that we have enough there for people to come and see,” said Nippes. “It has been very well-received. A lot of people who are down see this as something to do other than being on the beach. Once they come, they seem to get very excited, asking questions about the unique artifacts and things like that.”

    Hosting events for the public is an important way the society can educate the community about the area’s history, said Nippes.

    “To really understand what is going on, you need to understand the past and what transpired here, the values people had, how they dealt with adversity. It helps you appreciate what you have today.”

    The society is currently in the middle of a capital campaign to raise money for its new visitor center, a re-created Hall’s Store, which existed and thrived in the 1830s.

    “I think people will be fascinated to see how a store actually looked like, to see what they sold… It’s very exciting. I think people will learn a great deal about life here in the Ocean View area.”

    Nippes said the society plans to remove the garage on the historic complex sometime this summer to prepare for the construction of the center.

    “We hope to start construction on our visitors’ center this fall,” he said. “By fall, that building will be down and starting all the infrastructure that needs to go into this new building.

    “We have enough money to do the first phase of the project, which is running the infrastructure to the site — water lines, sewer lines, all that type of stuff, pouring a special pad of concrete so we will be ADA compliant. Then the next phase will be the building of the actual structure, which, once we raise that money, will go very quickly. Once we’re in the final phase, we’ll work on the inside... I can’t wait; it’s been a long time coming.”

    Nippes said the society is in an exciting time, and they hope the community will continue to support them in their ongoing endeavor of preserving the area’s history for generations to come.

    The Ocean View Historical Complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. Free parking is available in the Ocean View Town lots adjacent to the John West Park.

    Those who are interested in donating to the Ocean View Historical Society may mail donations to the Ocean View Historical Society, P.O. Box 576, Ocean View, DE 19970.

    For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society and upcoming events, visit Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit

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    Back by popular demand for the 16th straight season, and just in time for the summer of 2017, is the Bethany Surf Shop’s Skim Jam, kicking off this Monday, June 19, from 6 to 7 p.m. on the beach in front of Garfield Parkway in downtown Bethany Beach.

    “You know it’s finally summertime in ‘Big Sussex’ when Bethany Surf Shop Skim Jam starts,” said local pro and Catch Surf/Slotstik rider Bill Baxter, who helped get the event started, along with Bethany Surf Shop owners Jim and Sheila McGrath, now 16 summers ago. “The longest-running skim jam in the U.S. — just finless fun all around.”

    The free event is open to skimmers of all ages and skill levels, who will get the chance to drop in along with pros including Baxter and Hurley/Toobs team rider Colin Herlihy on Monday nights throughout the summer.

    Skimmers without a board or those looking for a new one are free to take a test run on plenty of boards provided by the shop, including Herlihy’s signature Toobs model, some of Baxter’s boards of choice from Catch Surf and Slotstik, and fiberglass models from Zap and Exile.

    And, as always, the whole family is being invited to check out the action.

    “I’m really excited to be a part of something that gets the community together like this,” said Herlihy of the event. “I like seeing all the summer vacationers come back every year and get excited about the event, and I also think it’s really special to see how the locals are bringing their kids and helping get the word out about the Skim Jam.”

    The Jam will continue at the same time on Monday nights throughout the summer. For more information on Skim Jam, check out Bethany Surf Shop online at or on their Facebook page at

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    The 60th annual Old Timer’s Day is a family event that will showcase cars, tractors and emergency vehicles from 1985 and older from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 17.

    Put on by the Town of Selbyville and the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, the show will take place on Church Street in Selbyville and benefit Delaware Hospice.

    “We had about 2,000 people come throughout the day last year,” said Chamber of Commerce Event & Member Relations Manager Lauren Weaver, “and we expect around 2,000 people again this year.”

    Weaver said the Chamber of Commerce is expecting about 130 cars to be registered this year.

    Registration and check-in for the car show will be from 8 to 11 a.m. Judging and door prizes will begin at 11 a.m., with scores to be tallied from 2 to 2:30 p.m., and awards will be announced at 3 p.m.

    In addition to the car show, Old Timer’s Day offers family activities. Firetruck rides and railroad museum tours will be offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and there will be a kickball tournament from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Selbyville Public Library.

    Old Timer’s Day “is a nice way for families to celebrate Father’s Day,” said Weaver.

    The event will also feature the Glass Onion Band, a Delaware rock band, and vendors.

    Though Selbyville is celebrating the 60th year of Old Timer’s Day, Weaver said that the event was originally a strawberry festival and has only been a car show for about the past 25 years.

    Registered participants will park antique vehicles along Church Street, and everyone else can park on side streets, in municipal lots and in the Southern Delaware School of the Arts parking lot. Handicapped parking is reserved, by town hall.

    The car show is free to attend. Vehicle registration costs $10, and vendor registration starts at $30, at

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    The Selbyville Public Library is inviting community members of all ages to join in a game of kickball on June 17 to celebrate the 60th annual Old Timer’s Day.

    With the intent of bringing education and entertainment to Selbyville’s yearly celebration, the library decided to launch its first Community Kickball, which will occur at the library’s parking lot from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.

    With no cost to play, no pre-registration required and no age limit to participate, the game is intended to include as many community members and visitors as possible.

    For library director Kelly Kline, who has also been in charge of setting up Community Kickball and developing the administrative side of the event, extending the game to people of all ages is an important part of the event. The inclusivity of the game aligns with the library’s dedication to creating a unified community.

    Kline explained that kickball is a sport that does not require any specific skill set, which she noted is ideal for players of all ages.

    “We just wanted to be inclusive and have whoever wanted to stop by be able to stop by,” Kline said. “It is also family-friendly.”

    The library’s staff members are encouraging friends, family and visitors to drop by the library at any point during Old Timer’s Day to partake in the fun, learn about the library’s summer reading program and become more informed about the library and its initiatives.

    Community Kickball is part of Selbyville Public Library’s mission to establish an informed community, along with numerous other programs that occur throughout the summer.

    As the youth services coordinator who organizes children’s programs at the library, including Community Kickball, Shelly Purnell said she hopes the kickball event will create an opportunity for heightened knowledge about the library and its programs.

    “I’m hoping to get the children here so that they can have fun and so that we can also educate them on what is going on here at the library this summer,” Purnell said.

    Among the library’s programs is its summer reading program. During the summer reading challenge, children complete a time sheet keeping track of the amount of hours they read. The participants must complete a minimum of 10 hours of reading before they are eligible to attend a celebration at the end of the summer.

    Other programs at the Selbyville Public Library during the summer include free lunches on the weekdays, a cursive writing class, an English class, a gardening program and more.

    The eight staff members who work at the library aim to ensure that the children continue to learn even while school in not session, while still having fun.

    “Selbyville is a small community,” Purnell said. “There are not many programs for children here in town, and the library is a safe place. A lot of children live at the library. It’s an educational place, and we try to make it fun.”

    Not only will the Selbyville community be able to learn about the library from Community Kickball, but its members will also be able to commemorate Old Timer’s Day. During the classic car and truck show, cars, tractors and emergency vehicles from 1985 and older will line up along Church Street in Selbyville, and a live band, vendors, moon bounces, and arts and crafts will all make an appearance.

    Combining a kickball game with an opportunity to celebrate, learn and enjoy, the Selbyville Public Library staff members said they hope to create a worthwhile experience that engages their surrounding community.

    “Anything we do is for the good of the community, to keep people entertained and interested and for lifelong learning,” Kline said.

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    Ocean View is trying to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to its growing population and public safety.

    The Ocean View Town Council voted unanimously this week to allow Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin to apply for the 2017 COPS Office Hiring Program (CHP) Grant.

    “We’re getting busier, and we haven’t added any additional staff, as far as sworn police officers, since 2004,” said McLaughlin.

    A staffing study conducted in 2010 recommended the department be at 8.5 officers at that time. Currently, the department has nine officers, but the area’s population has continued to grow.

    “It’s going to get busier. We know it’s coming. I don’t know what the answer is. In addition to this application, I think we need to think about how to fund public safety — not just police, but fire and EMS as well… We have a lot of folks reaping the benefits, whether it’s police, fire or EMS, and not contributing to the kitty.

    “I think we need to start taking a look at that. It’s only going to get more expensive. We’re going to have to start hiring officers in the future to meet the demand as the town grows.”

    McLaughlin noted that, in 2010, some of the subdivisions in the town weren’t even on the radar, and the surrounding areas are growing at the same pace.

    “I think, if nothing else, for officer safety we need to have two officers on at any time… I’m worried about our folks being out there by themselves.”

    McLaughlin said he has applied for the grant three times and received $125,000 twice.

    “This is a competitive grant. There is a huge need for police officers all across the country.”

    Councilman Bill Olsen suggested that the Town consider reaching out to the Town of Millville again, to broaden its police coverage. Back in 2010, the two towns discussed the possibility of Millville paying for police services; however, Millville chose instead to continue to pay for additional Delaware State Police coverage.

    Mayor Walter Curran said he wasn’t sure how fruitful such a discussion would be, as Millville just expanded its facilities for the state police.

    “It’s a spot for them to stop and wash their car,” McLaughlin replied. “They don’t have the equipment necessary to process a prisoner in that building. They don’t have any holding facilities or digital fingerprinting machines… The end result, to be quite honest with you, is that they continue to use our station, as they have in the past.”

    McLaughlin said he doesn’t know what the answer is but that he is a fan of regionalization of law enforcement.

    “I think it’s something we need to take a look at, because our operations here in Ocean View are only going to get more expensive.”

    The council unanimously agreed to allow McLaughlin to apply for the grant.

    “I think it’s a no-brainer,” said Councilman Tom Maly, noting that all departments will grow as the population continues to increase.

    Moving forward, McLaughlin said, he would be identifying current qualified, certified candidates. He said he would prefer not to send a new recruit to the police academy, because “that’s essentially one year you lose that we pay for, that we’re not really getting any benefit from.”

    He also requested, if the Town submits the grant application, that Curran sends a letter to the state’s Congressional delegation, informing them of the application and requesting their support.

    Curran said he would certainly write a letter. He also noted that, if the grant were awarded to the Town, it would not take effect until the 2019-fiscal-year budget.

    “It’s not so much the crime-fighting calls for service, it’s all the other things we do for our community — the residential checks, the business checks, the school monitoring program, welfare checks — these take a lot of time but are a vital service… That means a lot for anyone who lives in the town of Ocean View.”

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  • 06/15/17--14:13: Playing by the Rolls
  • Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: By 2011, the King brothers had restored the Rolls Royce into a beautiful vehicle.Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: By 2011, the King brothers had restored the Rolls Royce into a beautiful vehicle.Car aficionados might call it a crime. A British doctor left a beautiful, but decrepit, Rolls Royce sitting in the town of Bethany Beach to rust.

    Like many small-town physicians in the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. Charles King was well-known for his home and practice, which were located on Hollywood Street. But heads also turned for his 1936 Rolls Royce Phantom III Park Ward Sedanca de Ville.

    Yet, after a failed repair job in 1959, the dissembled Phantom III was condemned to decades of storage — sometimes out in the salt air — until King’s sons swooped in from England. They rescued the machine from Bethany Beach after their father’s death in 1991. And they finally renovated it in 2011, into an award-winning beauty that is now turning heads in Europe.

    King and his wife had come to the area from Wales and had three children: Susan, Richard and Michael. The family had lived in Cairo, Egypt, until the 1956 Suez Crisis made the Britons consider a move to Washington, D.C.

    As a surgeon, King drove the Rolls to work at Georgetown University Hospital on a regular basis. The car definitely attracted attention, “particularly when it regularly overheated in downtown Washington traffic,” Richard King recalled.

    “He used it for a couple of years, and it started to overheat, and it started to break down,” he said recently from London.

    King searched long and hard for a mechanic who could repair the silted water galleries. Finally, he found a mechanic who stripped the V-12 engine before deciding the repair was beyond his capability. King eventually moved his medical practice to Bethany Beach, still hoping to someday restore the car.

    The doctor in Bethany

    In the late 1950s, King took over the practice of another well-known physician, Dr. Campbell, who owned the Hollywood Street house but worked nearby. King then consolidated his home and practice at Hollywood Street.

    “We loved it. We spent quite a few summers there,” Richard King said. “We used to love holidays there.

    The beach was a great place for the family to come together each summer. Typically, King escaped the city, while his children were schooled in England and their mother worked in D.C., continuing teaching as a professor of anatomy.

    So King’s staff helped with some housekeeping to keep the place presentable to patients.

    “He was here mostly by himself. … We kind of took him under our wing,” said his former medical secretary, Wanda Powell of Ocean View.

    King was remembered as a nice person who later joined a Rehoboth Beach medical practice.

    “He was a jack of all trades,” Powell said. “He did surgery. He was the only doctor around at the time.”

    As for the Phantom, “He was completely delighted with that car. … He was very proud of his car, I remember that,” Powell said.

    The Phantom

    As a boy, Richard King didn’t fully appreciate the classic car.

    “I used to get to taken to the school in it. … People kept asking questions. I was embarrassed. I said, ‘Drop me round the back.’”

    But, Richard King inherited the car when his dad passed away, and the brothers discussed repairs. Richard King was now an orthopedic surgeon, and Michael King was a lawyer, both living in London.

    “When he died, I thought, ‘I’ve got to rescue the car, get it back to England, get it done,’” said Richard King. But work didn’t begin immediately. “When it came back to England, it went into another barn.”

    The Phantom sat in a friend’s Essex garage for another 10 years, until about 2001. Finally, a solution walked into Richard King’s medical practice: a patient named Ted Overton wanted to restore the car.

    That was a tall order. Other mechanics had never given the Phantom high odds of survival. By the time the car was shipped back to England, it was a mess.

    Less than 800 of the elegant cars had been built in the 1930s, before World War II. Most had an aluminum body. But, according to Richard King, only two steel-bodied Phantom IIIs were ever built, and one is now in his garage.

    The Kings’ Phantom was special-ordered and delivered to a Lord Glendyne in 1936, who later sold the car to W.E. Lillywhite, and finally to Charles King.

    In 1957, the car followed King across the Atlantic (sailing from London to Baltimore) to the family’s new home in Washington D.C.

    Repairing a classic

    But the car just sat, from 1959 until Charles King’s death in 1991. Renovations wouldn’t even begin until the new millennium.

    “It sort of deteriorated in the sea air. Everything deteriorated — the leather, the wood…” Richard King said.

    Although the bodywork was terribly corroded and even rotting away, the chassis and aluminum bonnet were “surprisingly intact.”

    The Rolls surprised everyone by revealing that the main cause of its overheating was an easily-fixed broken water pump impeller.

    The whole block was also restored with larger channels and new radiator.

    When it comes to color, “We wanted to jazz it up a little bit,” Richard King said. They replaced the austere black-and-brown color scheme with a more art deco styling. Meanwhile, the dull interior fabric made way for bright red leather.

    They modernized it with air conditioning, a new sound system, navigation and reversing camera systems. It’s better suited to modern-day traffic, too, with special-made fans and overdrive on the higher gears.

    The delicate finishing touches include a kneeling Spirit of Ecstasy figurine purchased in the 1990s in anticipation of the project. A Gold Angel motif was on both sides of the car, designed by Fiona, Richard King’s late wife, who supported the project from the beginning.

    All the work was done near London, by Overton Vehicle Overhauls of Essex, Gary Creasey of Wheathampstead and Greg and Simon Morris of Auto Audio.

    “It’s a stunning car. I think it’s been valued at $300,000,” Richard King said.

    Despite the considerable price tag, the car was “a commemoration of my father’s life,” Richard King said. His parents, both from Wales, have now both passed away. “But as time has gone on, the appreciation has exceeded the cost of the restoration.”

    Richard King said the Phantom has shined alongside other luxury cars at the Cartier Style et Luxe Concours d’Elegance in Goodwood Festival of Speed and won its category at the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club 2011 Annual Rally & Concours d’Elegance.

    That’s a great honor for the mechanics, but Richard King enjoys actually using the car.

    “My brother and I want to take it for a trip, take it to Italy, Spain, Italy or Poland — a nice long run,” Richard King said.

    Despite being a large, old car, he said, the steering is “lighter than you’d anticipate,” with a quiet engine. “It’s very nice to ride — but not on too small a road.”

    He uses a Bentley for everyday driving and also owns a de Havilland Tiger Moth 1944 biplane.

    Richard King’s love for classic cars may stem from a sense of nostalgia.

    “When we lived in Egypt, we used to go through the desert in these old cars. It’s that era that appealed,” he said of his childhood.

    Moreover, he said, these are just beautiful machines.

    “They’re sort of a work of art. That’s what it is — not just a machine that can travel at about 150 mph… That’s what makes them interesting, is the shape. They’ve got something to them. Modern cars — a lot of them look the same, don’t they? There’s nothing terribly exciting about them,” Richard King said. “It’s just art — mobile art.”

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    Imagine traveling thousands of miles to a foreign land where you don’t know fully the language or customs, and working for a summer. How would you fare?

    Aiming to lessen the difficulties involved, for more than a decade, St. Martha’s Episcopal Church in Bethany Beach has been hosting a picnic welcoming international student workers.

    “It’s been an evolving process. We got interested in it — another church member and myself — because we heard stories that international students weren’t being treated well,” said Martha Fields. “This is about 13 years ago. Things have definitely changed.

    “We felt like we couldn’t solve all the problems, but if we put our name out there, maybe we could help some people, and if we held a picnic, that would express that we wanted them here, we wanted them to have a good time.”

    This year’s picnic will be held Thursday, June 22, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the church in downtown Bethany.

    Fields said the church looks at the event as an opportunity to reach out a hand of friendship to the students.

    “It kind of grew, and the commitment of the church and the people involved grew. There is sort of a core group that has been there all along, but there have continued to be opportunities.”

    In the past, the church has held two picnics in a summer; however, she said that just depends on the need they see.

    “I think it’s the spirit of reaching out with kindness and love that have made this so successful.”

    Those who attend the free picnic can enjoy a smorgasbord of eats.

    “The grill guys keep the hotdogs and hamburgers coming as long as they’re wanted. We’ll have all kinds of salads and fruits, potatoes and baked beans… Just lots of cakes and sweets, and, of course, brownies. We also provide containers for the leftovers to go home with the students. They enjoy themselves, and we enjoy putting it on.”

    Fields said that, if community members wish to donate some food for the picnic, they may do so and drop it off at the church beginning at 3:30 p.m. on June 22.

    “Our members are just so generous with their donations. This year, McCabe’s is going to donate a sandwich tray. Subway is going to donate a sandwich tray as well. The businesses are all so supportive,” she added.

    Last year, the church branched out and offered the opportunity for students to practice informal conversations.

    “The students said they were here, in large part, to improve their English, but many jobs they hold don’t really provide that opportunity. They asked, ‘Could we just come and talk? Talk about your business, about your work? About how you invest your money?’

    “We did that twice a week for three or four weeks, and they really liked that. I’d take in business magazines that I subscribed to. We were talking about how you have a business luncheon, and the next time I took something I found on the internet on tips to host a professional lunch. This was all a surprise to me.”

    Fields said this year the church hopes to grow and expand the sessions with the students.

    “I really felt, for the students who participated in it that first year, it was a huge benefit for them. It went beyond welcoming them — it went into helping them grow and gain knowledge of how we do things here. I think it helped their understanding and their vocabulary.”

    She said she hopes home visits with parishioners and the students will increase this year.

    “They really like going into people’s houses, and it doesn’t have to be fancy. We had a large dinner last year, but we have had people come over after work and sit on the deck and have some soda, chips and crackers, things like that.”

    The time spent welcoming the students, said Fields, has built strong relationships, which have survived over years and oceans.

    “It’s fantastic. Sometimes it’s hard to understand the students, because they’re coming here to speak their English and they speak fundamental English. But if you persist, very quickly a warm relationship will develop, and friendships often. We have made friendships that have lasted much beyond the time that the young people are here. That is very gratifying.

    “One student invited a parishioner, who had given him a place to stay, to his wedding. So they went to Poland to Peter’s wedding. They recently just got a picture of Peter’s new baby. I just think it’s the best thing in the world to have those kinds of relationships grow. It’s a real opportunity.”

    Fields said that, no matter what the political climate may be, it is important to remember each other’s humanity and be friendly.

    “I was talking to a Russian waitress, and we got onto a discussion about the Russian government and our government. I said to her, ‘Governments can disagree, be rude to one and other, but the people of those countries don’t have to.’”

    She said she hopes the picnic will be well-attended by any and all international students in the area, and that they truly feel welcome in the community.

    “It’s just a real opportunity for Saint Martha’s to have a little part in world peace,” she said. “We all aspire to have… we all wish for world peace, but we say, ‘There’s nothing I can do.’ Well, maybe not on a large scale, but on a small scale.”

    St. Martha’s Episcopal Church is located at 117 Maplewood Street in downtown Bethany Beach. Those who wish to make a financial donation to the picnic may do so by writing a check to the International Student Committee and dropping it off at the church.

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    As students finished their last few days at school, the Indian River School District has been lining up administrators for the 2017-2018 school year.

    The recent budget cuts have impacted administration. Several new assistant principals were not invited to return for a second year. Those positions will instead be filled by district-level administrators, the more tenured individuals stepping back into the schools from the district office. Their district-level duties are being spread over the remaining directors at the Indian River School District’s Education Complex.

    “They’re going to have to fold it in, and other people are going to take the responsibilities,” said David Maull, district spokesperson. To his knowledge, he said, there weren’t pay bumps for the remaining administrators for the heavier loads they’re taking on.

    Specific changes include:

    • Principal Neil Beahan will retire from Long Neck Elementary School.

    • Clara Conn will step up from assistant principal to be principal at Long Neck. (Christopher Costello will remain an assistant principal.)

    • Heather Bethurum will transfer from principal at Southern Delaware School of the Arts to assistant principal at Long Neck.

    • Barkley Heck will become the Southern Delaware School of the Arts’ principal as outgoing principal Heather Bethurum leaves the area. Heck was formerly an assistant principal at SDSA and recently served as an assistant at IRHS. (The SDSA assistant principal position will not be filled for the time-being.) The school’s assistant principal position is to be addressed at a later date.

    At Indian River High School, Principal E. Bennett Murray IV has requested to step back into a position with fewer night duties, so he’ll become assistant principal, half of his time at Georgetown Elementary School (gaining half a position) and half at the Howard T. Ennis School.

    To fill the IRHS vacancy, the school board transferred Mike Williams, principal at Georgetown Middle School, although his staff have said they’re reluctant to see him go.

    But GMS Assistant Principal (and former Long Neck Elementary principal) David Hudson will step up to lead as GMS principal. The assistant principal’s position will be filled later.

    • At IRHS, the new assistant principals will be Matthew Keller (current assistant principal at Lord Baltimore Elementary School) and Will Revels (current IRSD supervisor of Secondary Instruction).

    • Travis Bower will remain an assistant principal but will transfer from Georgetown Elementary School to Lord Baltimore Elementary.

    • Melissa Kansak will become principal at the G.W. Carver Academy, leaving her district office of supervisor of Accountability. Last winter, Carver director Char Hopkins took another job outside the district, leaving her relatively new position of IRSD director of Leadership Development.

    • Karen Oliphant will remain an assistant principal but will transfer from the G.W. Carver Academy to North Georgetown Elementary (joining Samantha Gordy as an assistant principal there).

    The 2017-2018 school year will begin Tuesday, Sept. 5.

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    The Sussex County Council this week unanimously approved its proposed $143 million budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

    Prior to approving the budget, the council approved a number of ordinances related to the draft budget. Among the changes, the council voted unanimously to implement a $20 recording fee for a marriage license, a fee that New Castle County currently charges.

    “We calculated it takes two hours to complete recording a marriage license,” said Finance Director Gina Jennings. “We’re trying to recoup fees…”

    Out-of-office marriage ceremony fees would be raised by $25 dollars, with the charge being $100 for residents or $175 for non-residents. Jennings said that was recommended after looking at the cost associated with officials traveling to weddings.
    She noted that, had the additional $25 been in place last year, the County would’ve made an additional $29,840.

    Councilman Sam Wilson — the only councilperson expressing opposition to the ordinance amendment — suggested the hike in fees would discourage people from getting married.

    “I got married for $5. I can’t believe how much it keeps going up.”

    The council approved the amendment on a 3-1 vote.

    The council unanimously approved the amendment of an ordinance that would limit the property tax credit to only the buyer’s half of the 1.5 percent for first-time homebuyers.

    “This is what New Castle County does, and we feel it follows the original intent of the credit that the State put in the Code,” said Jennings on May 16, when the budget was first proposed. “What we are asking is that the buyer still be exempt but the seller pay their .75 percent. So, the County will receive .75 percent on any of the first-time homebuyer credit.”

    The council also voted to alter its realty transfer grant to municipalities.

    Prior to the amendment’s passage, if a municipality did not collect at least $20,000 in transfer taxes, the County would grant that town or city $15,000, making for potentially up to $34,999 in transfer tax revenue between the grant and actual revenue. Instead, the County will now pay only the difference between $20,000 and what the municipality collected, for a maximum of $20,000 combined for those municipalities collecting less.

    Jennings said she had reached out to every town that would be affected by the change and did not receive any questions.

    “Our constituents are our customers, and they expect the biggest bang for their buck,” Council President Michael Vincent said. “I am pleased at the work this County is able to accomplish each year, no matter the economy or the budget constraints. And I’m sure the taxpayers appreciate it, too.”

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    Coastal Point • M. Patricia Titus: The historic Dinker-Irvin Cottage, following months of controversy and anticipation, recently moved to its new permanent home a few parcels away from its former location.Coastal Point • M. Patricia Titus: The historic Dinker-Irvin Cottage, following months of controversy and anticipation, recently moved to its new permanent home a few parcels away from its former location.It’s not uncommon for people to “move house,” but sometimes it’s the house itself that moves.

    After months of anticipation, the Dinker-Irvin Cottage finally got on the move this week, traveling just a few hundred feet to the west from its longtime location near the intersection of Route 1 and Garfield Parkway in downtown Bethany Beach to a Town-owned lot just a few parcels away.

    Planning to sell the lot upon which it had sat since 1911, Christina and Clem Edgar donated the historic cottage to the Town last year, amid some controversy over its proposed re-location to an undeveloped parcel that had been used by neighbors as a sort of unofficial park.

    The cottage, built in 1904 by the Dinker family — one of the town’s founding families — had been moved to its longtime location after the Dinkers had built a larger house (known today as the Dinker House and located at 99 First Street). It was purchased by Christina Edgar’s family in 1925, having during the prior two years also served as home to the town’s post office.

    As she watched the move on Monday, Edgar recalled having taken some of her first steps on the historic home’s front porch. But rather than bidding that part of her family’s history a sad farewell, Edgar said she was happy to see it being moved to a location where it would be preserved, rather than being torn down. She said she believed that if they had sold the lot with the cottage still on it, the buyer most likely would have simply razed it to build a modern beach house.

    Instead, the historic structure will become home to a town history museum, which is expected to house the historical items and images currently on display in the town hall lobby, as well as others that have been collected or may be donated in the future.

    The Bethany Beach Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee donated $20,000 to help pay for the cottage to be relocated, tapping into the funds it has raised through its annual Seaside Craft show each June.

    The move itself had been delayed from its initial timetable of earlier this spring, but workers from East Coast Structural Movers in the past week completed raising it off its foundation and onto steel supports atop a trailer, removing the foundation and clearing the way for the actual move.

    That work began Monday morning, moving a few yards as a time as workers placed mats below the trailer wheels, loosened and tightened support chains and trimmed a few branches that had ended up in the way before finally getting the home onto the new lot and then turning it 90 degrees to orient it once more toward Garfield Parkway. Its house number of 301 Garfield Extension remains above the front door, though it’s no longer entirely accurate.

    The Dinker-Irvin Cottage is also being temporarily raised up about 10 feet off the ground, so as to leave room for construction of its new foundation, and once that is completed will be lowered back down to a similar height to where it stood for more than a century, just a few doors down the block.

    Thanks to it only being moved down the block, the Town was spared the cost of having to have utility wires temporarily pulled down to make way for the house to cross any streets. That could have meant thousands of dollars in costs per wire.

    Some retrofitting and basic updates are planned to take place before the museum will move into the structure, but the home — which has remained largely unchanged since the 1920s — will preserve the character of a traditional Bethany Beach cottage dating back almost to the town’s founding in 1901.

    Edgar, who now lives in a modern beach house directly east of the Dinker Cottage’s former location, said on Monday that she and the Town were awaiting a final ruling from the National Register of Historic Places as to the home’s official historic status, which was expected in the next week or two.

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    The Millsboro Town Council opened the doors for new businesses, new developers and new potential with a unanimous vote in February to cut the building fund portion of the Town’s building permit rate by more than 80 percent.

    Less than four months later, the hay may not be in the barn just yet on the council’s quest to make the town a more attractive option for new and budding businesses, but the cows have officially started on their way home, with Lewes Dairy announcing its relocation to Millsboro, on a parcel near Millsboro Lanes.

    Not only will the long-time Sussex County icon bring new jobs, along with their new dairy distribution facility and ice cream parlor, but according to Town Manager Sheldon Hudson, the move signifies the beginning of the Town’s plan for growth.

    “Lewes Dairy is a really nice addition to the town that the council is incredibly excited about and worked hard to accommodate,” said Hudson. The council has “been on a mission to help provide new jobs and to make Millsboro a retail and employment center for central Delmarva, and you can see that starting to happen already.”

    At the regularly scheduled town council meeting held on Monday, June 5, the council also passed a budget for the 2018 fiscal year that reduced the capitation tax to $0, and they decided that per-annexation fees would no longer be applicable in cases involving property formerly designated by the State of Delaware as wetlands, which Hudson said would benefit town residents and further accelerate economic growth.

    Other big-name businesses signing on to set up shop along Route 113 in Millsboro in the near future include Royal Farms, Chick-fil-a, Farmer’s Bank, Mid-Atlantic Animal Hospital and Preston Motors — all falling directly in line with the council’s vision of targeted business partners.

    While more restaurants, grocery stores, hotels and hospitals are also on the council’s wish-list, they’re already planning ahead, with efforts to revitalize the downtown area to be able to accommodate a growing population.

    The approved budget for 2018 also included funds allocated for a new police station, as well as new sidewalks and other possible improvements geared to public safety along Main Street and State Street — all designed to move Millsboro toward the future while at the same time preserving its history.

    “A lot of the older buildings downtown are brick, so I know Council would like to get that theme going,” said Hudson of the projects set to get under way by the summer of 2018. “That’s part of the reason for the brick — there’s history in it. It’s not only to give downtown a nice aesthetic feel, but it’s a tribute to the town’s roots as well.”

    “We’re also looking for a building that fits well into our community and where people feel welcome,” added Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway of the plans for the new police station. “The hopes are basically for us to become a more state-of-the-art police department for our community here.”

    Calloway has long been an advocate of keeping his patrol of now 15 officers ahead of the curve, staying involved in voluntary programs, such as international accrediting organization CALEA. He said he believes that staying involved and proactive as a department is key in being able to serve and protect.

    In the same vein, Millsboro is already looking ahead to the possibility of also revitalizing the art league building and train station in the 2019 fiscal year — taking a proactive approach to the future, rather than having to instead “play defense” as the population continues to boom as expected.

    “Ever since the impact fees were lowered, we’ve gotten a lot of calls from developers. The council wants to respect the past, but they also know that growth is coming and they want to be proactive about it,” he explained. “There’s a lot of unity on the council, which makes my job a lot easier.

    “We all want a well-rounded demographic. You have to actively seek that out as a town. You can’t just wait for it to come to you. I think, over the next few years, we’re going to see a lot of investment in the downtown area and keep up with the growth that’s happening — it’s definitely an exciting time for Millsboro.”

    For more information on the Town or Millsboro-area attractions, visit the Town’s brand new website at For more information on the police department, visit

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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Kevin Martin and Stephanie Baker show off some of the new menu items at Taco Taco.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Kevin Martin and Stephanie Baker show off some of the new menu items at Taco Taco.They’re doing it quick. They’re doing it simple. They’re doing it the customer’s way.

    And now, they’re doing it for breakfast, too.

    Kevin Martin and Stephanie Baker first introduced their “good food fast” philosophy to Millville with Taco Taco in the winter of 2016, enjoying a successful first summer season while offering up “fresh Mex” fare for both lunch and dinner, whether dining in or ordering out.

    That’s the same concept that Taco Taco will stay true to this summer, with the addition of the all-new a.m. menu-options making their burrito-board debut by popular demand.

    “Just about anything that you could want for breakfast, we’ve got it here,” said Kevin Martin. “Everyone who’s tried it has had nothing but good things to say. People are coming back. We’ve even had people come in from California and the Southwest and tell us that it was the best breakfast burrito they’ve ever had.”

    “We come in for breakfast all the time,” added Rebecca Chandler, part of the team at All About U Salon & Spa next door, who have been Taco Taco regulars since the beginning. “My go-to omelet is the veggie. The breakfast burritos are on point, too. And Kevin and Steph are great — very friendly, very fun, always a good laugh.”

    Starting at 6:30 a.m., beachgoers and Taco Taco regulars alike can head in for a cup of fresh brewed coffee and chose from an array of early-morning options, such as breakfast burritos served with crispy homefries, three-egg omelets or just a good old American breakfast sandwich served on a bagel, toast or English muffin.

    Meat options include chorizo, bacon and sausage, but South of the Border meets Sussex County with Rappa scrapple and Taylor’s pork roll added to the lineup.

    Ordering is made to be simple, with burritos and omelets typically wrapped up with peppers, onion, pico de gallo and either American, cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese; but adding on sides — including the house-made guacamole or melted queso dip — is more than cool with the Taco Taco crew, too.

    “We’re easy. You can mix it up if you want,” said Martin. “The eggs are cracked right in front of you. The scrapple and chorizo and the sausage are all cooked right on the grill. Fresh brewed coffee. It’s just worth it to be able to offer good, fresh products.”

    Breakfast is available all day, but there are also some new happenings when it comes to the lunch menu this summer, too.

    Ordering been further streamlined for tacos, burritos, salad bowls and quesadillas, with either “Baha style” or “traditional” options, and Taco Taco’s new “Big Kids” menu features cheeseburgers, hot dogs and grilled cheese, all served with a side of french fries.

    Sides of house-made salsa, guac, chile con queso, tortilla chips, Spanish rice and beans, and black bean soup are all still available, and cooler drinks, including Jaritos sodas, Mexican Coca-Cola, Gatorade and juices, have been added for on-the-go ordering as well.

    As for new dessert options, Martin said that it was the house-made tres leches that takes the cake.

    Right now, Taco Taco is open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., but they will stay open until 7 p.m. starting Tuesday, June 13. The restaurant will stay open through the winter for breakfast and lunch, and offers both indoor and outdoor seating, as well as call-ahead ordering.

    Taco Taco is located at 35831 Atlantic Avenue (Route 26) in Millville, across the street from Atlantic Auto Repair and Lord Baltimore Elementary School. For more information or a full menu, visit or, or call the restaurant at (302) 829-8024.

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    Organizers behind the Southern Delaware Wine, Food & Music Festival (SoDel Fest, for short) this week kicked off their preparations for the Oct. 7 festival set near Millsboro with an event aimed at offering just a taste of what this year’s festival will hold — gourmet food, the chance to taste a variety of wines and something equally appetizing to the ears of music lovers: local music.

    At a June 13 invitation-only event targeted at potential sponsors and promotional partners and held at the new Bluecoast Grill location in Rehoboth Beach, Executive Director Stacy LaMotta of Creative Coastal Connections Corp., which organizes the annual fundraising event, introduced the elements of this year’s festival.

    “I created this festival three years ago to celebrate and share all the things I love about Southern Delaware with others,” said LaMotta. “With each year, I strive to find new ways to inspire a deeper love for cuisine, drink and music for our guests, and I really think we have something fantastic going this year.”

    “This year’s festival is focused on experiences,” said LaMotta. “As our guest, you aren’t just attending an event, you are stepping into a carefully crafted world designed to engage your senses and ensure unmatched hospitality.”

    The guests of the 2017 festival will have the choice of three different experiences: the Private Reserve Experience, the Festival Experience and a Learning Experience, which can be added as an option to either of those experiences.

    New and limited to only 100 guests, the Private Reserve Experience offers two days of red-carpet treatment, beginning Friday, Oct. 6, with an exclusive five-course seated dinner hosted by a Master Sommelier at Baywood Greens, and continuing with full-day access to an exclusive lounge seating area during the main SoDel Fest event the following afternoon.

    Saturday, Oct. 7, from noon to 4 p.m. at Independence Clubhouse near Millsboro, the 2017 SoDel Fest will be in full swing for everyone, offering an array of food from more than 18 Southern Delaware restaurants; diverse and critically acclaimed wines, craft beers and cocktails; cooking demonstrations; blind tastings; live music; a surprise competition and more.

    It’s ‘about the kids’

    SoDel Fest has been named “Delmarva’s Hippest Wine, Food & Music Festival,” but beyond the delights it offers for foodies and music lovers, the event in its first three years has raised more than $43,000 to support local charities, and it was those charities that were a focus of the June 13 kickoff event.

    Representatives of the Delaware Restaurant Association Educational Fund, Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation and Children & Families First shared stories of the impact the donated funds will make in the local community by investing the lives and futures of its children.

    “These beneficiaries help kids,” LaMotta said. “What better cause than that?”

    Carrie Leishman, president of the Delaware Restaurant Association, spoke of the group’s training programs for young people, emphasizing that they teach not only skills for work in the food industry but “the skills they need to fend for themselves.”

    Noting that 1 in 10 Delawareans works in a restaurant, Leishman said their efforts began as a way to change the state’s culinary curriculum. What has evolved are programs in 19 schools, training 3,000 students in aspects of the restaurant industry that extend beyond food preparation and into management and more.

    “They learn important life skills and the thought skills they need to be successful,” she said.

    That includes 400 hours of paid work experience, certifications and more.

    In the state’s lower-income areas — some of which, she emphasized, are right next to the wealthier beach communities — the programs aren’t just about going to school and getting a degree, but about learning skills that the students need to be independent as adults.

    “These are programs that teach teenagers how to work,” she said, adding, “This is a wonderful place to have a career, and we’re training the next generations.”

    Jeff Gordon, president of the board of directors for the Cape Henlopen Educational Foundation (CHEF), and Cape Henlopen School District Superintendent Robert Fulton spoke about the impact of the funds raised on the district’s CHEF program, which has a mission “to inspire learning and help students develop to their full potential.

    Introducing Savannah Shockley, a senior at Cape Henlopen High School and the evening’s musical entertainment, Gordon noted the value of the program’s support for the arts, which has included fundraising of $250,000 that is particularly targeted at low-income students.

    Fulton said the funding has “helped close the gaps” in the program, leading to a first-place win in a state culinary competition. He spoke about a homeless student whose trip to that competition had been funded partly by CHEF and who subsequently received a college scholarship. Another, he said, has been working three jobs to support herself and her family, but she now also has a scholarship.

    He noted also the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, which focuses on role models and skills, and which he said has been “instrumental in making sure they can get to college.” The programs have offered some Sussex County students the chance to go to Florida for science programs, when they had never previously left the county.

    “There are more [of the less-fortunate] here than you would think,” he said.

    The success of AVID was demonstrated this year in all 22 of the seniors in the program going on to college, despite having no family history of college education.

    “Every dollar invested in CHEF is a dollar invested in our future,” he said.

    Laura Rimmer of Children & Families First (CFF), a statewide program that has been in operation for 135 years and has an office in Georgetown, said that group’s programs “provide the vital difference between surviving and thriving. Many of our clients — everybody has given up on them,” she said, urging attendees to think of a special person who had made a major difference in their life.

    “Think of that special person in your life and realize that not everyone has that person,” she said.

    “Family, in all of its varied definitions, is the structure on which society is built, and the most fragile unit of that structure is children,” she added, saying that people don’t like to talk about the “ugly” things that happen, “but it’s there.”

    Alyssa Titus, development director for CHEF, added, “This is happening here every day. There are kids who go to school with your kids who this is their reality.”

    “The greatest thing is it’s easy [to fix], because you can be that one person,” Rimmer said, urging attendees to tell at least one other person about CFF. “We can make the fabric of community so strong that there’s ... no room for anyone to fall through the gaps.”

    LaMotta emphasized that SoDel Fest isn’t just about “wine, food and fun, but about the kids.”

    The event, she said, “offers organizations, small and large, a powerful avenue to give back to their communities,” as well as build brand awareness and loyalty, by becoming an event sponsor. Early sponsors include Bluecoast’s parent company, SoDel Concepts, as well as the Cape Gazette, Citgo, Meineke and Tunnel & Raysor. Sponsorship information can be found online at or by contacting

    Tickets for the October event will be available online at starting July 1.

    Tickets for the Private Reserve Experience cost $249 per person (100 tickets available), while general admission tickets for the festival itself cost $75 per person pre-sale. The Learning Experience (40 tickets available) costs an additional $35 per person and includes early admission to the festival at 11 a.m., with a chance to taste and learn directly from a Master Sommelier.

    For more information, contact Stacy LaMotta at

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  • 06/22/17--12:03: Soap for Hope
  • Coastal Point • Submitted: Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church plans to build The Hope Center. Blessing Bubbles soap came about to help raise funds for the building.Coastal Point • Submitted: Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church plans to build The Hope Center. Blessing Bubbles soap came about to help raise funds for the building.On a recent Sunday, Amy Rice sat in Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church, listening to the Rev. Woodrow Wilson preaching from the book of Matthew.

    On that particular day, Wilson was preaching about Matthew 25:14-30, which is known as “the Parable of the Bags of Gold,” or “the Parable of the Talents.”

    The parable tells of a man who leaves his considerable wealth in the hands of his servants, giving three of them different amounts of treasure; to one he leaves five bags, to another two bags and to a third man he leaves one bag.

    Both of the men with the greater amounts invest the money wisely, and the master is pleased with them when he returns because his treasure has multiplied. The third man, however, chooses the “safe” option and buries the bag of gold in the ground.

    After the service, Rice and her friends — having been moved by Wilson urging his congregation to make the most of what they have been given — brainstormed about how to take the $10 they had each been given as part of the sermon and multiply it to serve their community and their church.

    Rice, who — in addition to owning Mickey’s Family Crabhouse and being a full-time student and mother of four children — sells essential oils, hit on the idea of creating a product from the oils to sell as a fundraiser for a major project the church is undertaking.

    That is how Blessing Bubbles soap was born. Along with nine of her friends, Rice has begun producing the foaming soap, the base of which is an all-natural cleaner made with clove, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus and rosemary therapeutic-grade essential oils, Rice said.

    “The nine of us that made these prayed over them while making them, that the blessings would multiply,” Rice said.

    All proceeds from the soap will help fund the Hope Center, a 13,000-square foot facility now in planning stages, which Wilson said is intended to serve both the Mariner’s Bethel congregation and the community at large.

    The name of the facility was chosen, Wilson said, because “all people deserve hope.”

    The one-story, 13,000-square-foot building will include a kitchen where the church will be able to grow its existing food ministry, Feed My Sheep, as well as a gym for use by youth groups within the church and by outside recreational teams, Wilson said. In addition, the church plans after-school enrichment programs for area students, the details of which are currently being worked out.

    The church, Wilson said, sees the center as a cooperative effort between Mariner’s Bethel and surrounding schools, businesses and organizations, as well as other churches, in its efforts to continue to serve all members of the community, no matter how old.

    “Our whole vision is growing spiritually healthy people throughout all generations,” he said. The Hope Center came about through the church “recognizing that there was a need for outreach and in-reach,” he said.

    “The Hope Center is really a vehicle that we want to use to engage and invite” community members to come together, he said. In a more serious vein, he added that the church realizes the role it can play in providing an anchor for youth, giving them “a chance to be engaged, and to be loved, and to keep them from being at-risk.”

    In addition to the multipurpose/gymnasium space and kitchen, the Hope Center will also include four classrooms, two meeting rooms, a stage, and space for offices as well as a small prayer space.

    At this time, the church has reached about the halfway point of its fundraising goal of $3.2 million, Wilson said. The current plan is for construction on the Hope Center to start in May 2018, he said.

    Blessing Bubbles soap is available at Kyle’s Produce Junction on Cedar Neck Road and at Mickey’s Family Crabhouse on Coastal Highway just south of Bethany Beach. Each bottle costs $6; all proceeds will go toward the Hope Center at Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church. Community members interested in helping with the project are being asked to call the Rev. Woodrow Wilson at the church, at (302) 539-9510.

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    Coastal Point • Submitted: The new Freeman Stage is packed to the brim.Coastal Point • Submitted: The new Freeman Stage is packed to the brim.The Freeman Stage at Bayside could not have picked a better act to show off their new stage last Saturday than the Tedeschi Trucks Band. The 2,600-person venue was filled with devotees who got what they came for and new enthusiasts who were rightly amazed.

    As Mark Banaszak, a long-time Freeman volunteer and music lover posted on Facebook, “Never seen the Freeman rocked like that… EVER!!! The new stage is fabulous. Everyone had an amazing time.”

    In fact, without the new stage, an act like Tedeschi Trucks would not have signed up to come to West Fenwick. They are a national touring, 12-piece roots band whose music ranges from R&B belters to gentle ballads to gospel. They are led by power-vocalist Susan Tedeschi and her husband, master guitarist Derek Trucks. Each member of the band brings unique and incredible talent.

    Opening for Tedeschi Trucks were Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett, the two surviving members of the beloved band Little Feat.

    The new stage replaced the original, which first appeared on the lawn in the early era of Bayside in 2008. It bore the iconic signature of regional real estate developer Joshua Freeman, who died tragically in a helicopter accident in 2006.

    It became a source of inspiration for Michelle Freeman, president and chairman of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation. She foresaw, through the stage, a way to honor her late husband’s memory by bringing the arts to everybody in Sussex County, thus elevating the human spirit.

    But this 10th season is different. “The little stage that could,” as it was commonly called, has withstood its last performance. It was a community-built, wooden, 20-by-40-by-14-foot, primitive piece of beloved local Americana. It has been replaced by a larger, sleek, portable, high-tech stage, known in the entertainment industry as an SL 320.

    “We started to think we may have to replace the stage about four years ago, when we started bringing in bigger acts,” said Patti Grimes, executive director of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation.

    “At first, we tried to be creative. We added ‘wings’ to each side of the stage and rearranged the landscaping, but we could never overcome the limitations caused by its low height and minimal weight-bearing capability. The requirements of the national acts just outweighed our stage’s reality.”

    “When the advancement production crews showed up before each performance, some were concerned by our physical limitations, in comparison to what they were accustomed,” said Grimes.

    Nevertheless, the artists raved about the hospitality provided by Grimes and her team.

    “We really take care of our artists, and we work as hard as we can with their production staff. As a result, many have returned for repeat performances, and many have recommended us to their colleagues,” she said.

    However, in their effort to make things work operationally, there became increasing concern about how safe the little stage was for artists and also for audiences and staff.

    As an example, Doug Phillips, the foundation’s creative and digital experience manager, talked about the large screen upon which some performances are projected in order for audiences to better view the show.

    “I don’t think a lot of people realized that the screen hung from a rented forklift. It was alright, but something I held my breath about,” he said. “Likewise, because the stage was not high enough for proper lighting, we had to place the lighting on the grass, in the midst of the audience. Again, it was safe enough, but far from ideal.”

    The final decision for a new stage was made by the Freeman Foundation’s Board of Directors in 2016. All agreed that the work to bring the project to fruition must be completed in time to have a full season in 2017.

    They succeeded, and along with the SL 320 has come a tall metal T-shaped LED pole for video projection, which has been firmly cemented into the ground adjacent to the stage. Another improvement is the replacement of worn-down sod with Bermuda grass, over-seeded with rye grass, which is a sturdier type of grass intended for fields and festivals.

    Sue Katz is another long-term Freeman Stage volunteer. She said she was particularly impressed with the improved sound facilitated by the new stage.

    “In the past, we had speakers on the side aisles, which meant the volume of sound depended on where you sat,” she said. “I just talked to a family from Pittsburgh who extended their vacation for this concert. They’ve heard Tedeschi Trucks numerous times, and they said the band sounded just like they should. I thought that was a great compliment to the new stage.”

    “I’m absolutely loving it,” said Taylor Knox, lead singer and guitarist with the local band Human Connection. “I came by myself and bought an expensive ticket so I could sit up front and focus on the music. The sound is right on, and the lighting is just right — not distracting, but mood-setting. And, of course, the level of musicianship is amazing.”

    Knox found his eye occasionally wandering off to the right, across the lake and over the fountain to the Cove restaurant and clubhouse. That’s where he and his fiancée, Kelly Kovach, are getting married next year.

    Lisa Caroff and her son, Connor Hartman, live in Dagsboro and are avid Tedeschi Trucks fans. Back in February, they had traveled to see them play in Washington D.C. Connor is autistic, and his mom always tries to make every occasion as special as possible. At the Freeman Stage, she wanted Connor to meet his very favorite band.

    “I sent a couple of emails earlier, but hadn’t heard anything,” she said. “So when we arrived, I kept talking to people, like the sound guys and Freeman folk, and then Chris Trucks, Derek’s dad, who told me he thought they would really like that.”

    Chris Trucks, who travels with the band and manages their merchandise tent, said later about his son, “He doesn’t talk much. He doesn’t have to — his music speaks for him.” After all, the former Allman Brothers Band musician is listed by Rolling Stone as No. 16 of the 100 best guitarists in the world.

    Both Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi sat down comfortably and talked with Connor after the show. They said they were impressed by his knowledge of music and may have hinted that a return visit to the Freeman Stage may be in order. Trucks even gave Connor one of his guitar slides as a keepsake.

    “Connor told Derek he has a really big beard,” said Caroff. “It was so funny, because then Susan told him it sometimes makes him hard to kiss! They were so nice to us.”

    Caroff also mentioned that Steve Combs, a Little Feat roadie, had taken particular interest in Connor and had given him a copy of the show’s set list so he could know what song was coming up next — a real treasure.

    When the goal to complete all the work for the installation the new stage was met, there was a Blessing of the Stage attended by the Freeman Foundation Board and employees on May 11th. As part of the celebration, each attendee anonymously wrote their hope for the Stage on a small card, which was put in a time capsule.

    On one of the cards was written: “My vision for this stage is for it to be a vehicle for JOY — for the Artist and the Audience. The Freeman Stage should be a place where all people are welcome, and a place where employees flourish and grow.”

    There is no doubt that on June 17 joy abounded.

    For more information about the 2017 season at the Freeman Stage, go to their website at

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    Coastal Point • File Photo: The Parsons Family Farm Blueberry Festival will be held on Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parsons Farm Produce in Dagsboro.Coastal Point • File Photo: The Parsons Family Farm Blueberry Festival will be held on Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parsons Farm Produce in Dagsboro.If the antioxidants in blueberries prevent cancer, then the Parsons Family Farms Blueberry Festival could be viewed as an antioxidant to help the U.S. fight cancer.

    The Dagsboro festival will be held Saturday, June 24, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Parsons Farm Produce in Dagsboro. A portion of proceeds will be donated to American Cancer Society.

    Family-friendly activities include blueberry U-pick, blueberry pie-eating contest, haywagon rides, face painting, petting zoo, moon bounce, a “Hope” blanket raffle and more. Beebe Healthcare will provide screenings for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol.

    Local artisans will sell handmade crafts and products. Guests can grab lunch from Hocker’s BBQ, Nothing Better, the Corn Exchange and Juicebox.

    Live music includes country music by the Dirt Road Outlawz and a special noontime performance by Bob Lougheed, local Elvis tribute singer and cancer survivor. People can bring lawn chairs or blankets to watch the show.

    The Cancer Support Community in Delaware (“a hidden gem,” Carol Hudson said) will also have a table to share information on their free activities and counseling for cancer patients and caregivers. People can also reserve a butterfly in honor or memory of a loved one, to be released at the Wings of Hope in September in Rehoboth Beach.

    Local cooks can break out their best blueberry recipes. The Great Blue Ribbon Blueberry Bake-Off is a community cooking contest. People should submit their favorite blueberry dish and a copy of the recipe for judging at the market on Friday, June 23, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The winner will be announced at the festival.

    Gate admission costs $7, which includes a bracelet that grants access to the music, programs and activities. Children 2 or younger can attend free of charge. Guests can also bring extra money to purchase food or gifts from vendors.

    “It’s really reasonably priced. It’s priced with families in mind,” said Skyler Hudson, a co-organizer and recent high school graduate. “It definitely has a lot of stuff for every audience and helps toward a great cause.

    Parsons Farms Produce is located at 30381 Armory Road (Route 20), Dagsboro, Del. Details are available by calling (302) 732-3336 or online at

    Good day for a good cause

    Near the Parsons Family Farm, the Hudson family of Frankford have deeply felt the cruel and persistent bite of cancer.

    Their husband and father, Michael Hudson, passed away from pancreatic cancer in April of 2016. He was 59. Skyler, his youngest son, was still a high school junior.

    “All cancers are personal, they really are,” said his wife, Carol Hudson. “And everybody’s fight is so personal, because you think of one cell in millions that just decided to go rogue and grow out of control in your body … when you think of your body killing itself…”

    His family promised to keep fighting for the American Cancer Society and against pancreatic cancer, which has a particularly high mortality rate but lower funding and awareness.

    Cancer has cut through four generations and 20 members of the Hudson family, starting with Michael’s grandmother in the mid-1900s. Since then, the family has suffered cancers of the lung, thyroid, uterus, colon, bladder, breast, prostate, skin, thyroid and ovary and more, down to Michael’s siblings and their children.

    Michael Hudson had previously had non-Hodgkin lymphoma in his 30s and 40s.

    The pancreatic cancer was diagnosed in his 50s, and it moved fast. That year, his springtime CAT scan appeared perfectly normal. But, by September, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

    Located in the abdomen, the pancreas is a 6-inch gland surrounded by the stomach that aids in digestion and blood-sugar regulation.

    This year, an estimated 54,000 people will develop pancreatic cancer. That’s 12th on the American Cancer Society’s list of most common cancers.

    But 43,000 will die from pancreatic cancer this year. It ranks third for estimated deaths, after lung/bronchus and colorectal cancers.

    Although statistics vary, this much is certain: Less than 10 percent of pancreatic cancer patients are expected to survive the five-year mark. But treatment and medication can still nearly bankrupt a family, even with health insurance.

    Skyler switched schools from Georgetown to Dagsboro, partly just to help tend to his father after school.

    “My dad, before he passed, said he wanted us to do an event like this,” Skyler Hudson said. “And cancer has heavily affected my direct and extended family.”

    Skyler called his father “very honest and very hardworking. His main job was taking care of the farm and house. The old house that we had owned before we moved, he had built. … He was a big family-man. He was really involved with myself and my two brothers,” he said of his brothers Michael and Devin.

    Carol and Skyler Hudson spent the whole school year helping plan this event.

    “We had known the Parsons for a while, and they had already been planning a blueberry festival, so we asked them about it, so they agreed to work with us on that,” Skyler said.

    The family said they’re looking forward to this money doing good work.

    The American Cancer Society helps with research causes and treatments; fights for policy changes; provides both emotional support and statistics; and helps run the Hope Lodge, which provides lodging for families during treatment in certain cities.

    Although losing a beloved husband and father to cancer is painful, the Hudsons are trying to make a difference.

    “Retreating’s not an option, you know?” Carol Hudson said. “But I will never accept that one cell in your body can take away all your dreams and all your passions and the plans we had made. I will not accept it, so we fight for it every day.”

    It’s not just the Hudson family. Carol Hudson said she believes the whole Frankford area is very much at risk of cancer, as she rattled off a list of neighbors suffering the disease.

    “It’s everywhere. It’s definitely a cluster, for whatever reason,” she said.

    But they’re looking forward to a fun Blueberry Festival, hoping that it will “be a fun community event that it raises money for the American Cancer Society, that it brings awareness to the group of Cancer Support [Community] of Delaware,” Carol Hudson said.

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    Coastal Point • Submitted: Scudieri is featured in the book ‘Modern Masters of the Martial Arts.’Coastal Point • Submitted: Scudieri is featured in the book ‘Modern Masters of the Martial Arts.’They consider it “the Academy Awards of Martial Arts.” And, if that’s the case, Delaware Budokan’s Hanshi Philip M. Scudieri can consider himself an “Oscar” winner.

    In front of the 1,500 in attendance at the ceremony held at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., in January, Hanshi Scudieri was inducted into the Action Martial Arts Magazine’s Hall of Honors and presented the award for Outstanding Contributions in the Martial Arts.

    But even after 45 years of both training in and teaching martial arts, and even after his fair share of past honors — including three other Hall of Honors inductions and two invitations to represent the United States at the Kyoto Budofest in Kyoto, Japan — the Selbyville-based Hanshi was still more than humbled when he got the news.

    “It’s just amazing. I was blown away,” said Scudieri. “To get called up in front of all these pioneers of martial arts, I was thrilled to be considered for this kind of recognition.”

    To add to the occasion, Scudieri also got the chance to meet some of those martial arts pioneers in person, many of whom he’s looked up to ever since starting out with his first belt, now more than four decades ago.

    Now himself an official inductee into the “Hall of all Halls,” however, Scudieri got to see the tables turned, with the next generation of martial arts hopefuls looking up to him the same way.

    “Then it was pretty interesting,” Scudieri said. “We were at a table with eight other people, and when I came back [from receiving the award], it was really funny to have all these guys bowing to me and asking me to sign things for them. They’re right where I was 25 years ago.”

    Also in attendance to share the night was Scudieri’s wife — also an internationally renowned martial artist in her own right — Celinda Ellsworth.

    “She’s my personal bodyguard,” Scudieri said with a laugh. “Having her there to be able to share this with me — and for all these years — has been just incredible.”

    Recently, Scudieri was further honored when he was featured in author David Nemeroff’s new book “Modern Masters of the Martial Arts.”

    The work highlights more than 50 modern martial arts masters sharing what makes their style, philosophy and history unique, with plenty of photographs of and insights from each instructor.

    Scudieri said that book “has lifted the veil and helped those that are curious about what makes one martial art different from another,” and was released at an opportune time for the sport as it has continued to increase in popularity over the last decade, due to the awareness of mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

    “Some of the people in the book are just outstanding — I’m very honored to be included in it,” he said.

    The Hanshi — the title of the highest rank of kendo, a Japanese martial art descended from swordsmanship — holds two eighth-degree black belts in swordsmanship and Japanese weaponry, as well as black belts in karate, tae kwon do and a renshi menkyo in the Itto Tenshin Ryu. He’s also the chief representative for the U.S. to the All Japan Budo Federation and Nippon Seibukan Dojo — the national governing board for budo (Japanese martial arts) in Japan.

    That’s where he’ll be headed in September for his next honor, to lead the U.S. delegation from the Delaware Budokan in the event put on by the All Japan Budo Federation and Nippon Seibukan Dojo, with support from the Imperial House.

    In the meantime, however, he and Ellsworth will continue to pride themselves on providing an authentic atmosphere for those looking to learn the “way of the warrior,” right here in Sussex County, at Delaware Budokan.

    “Our dojo is very authentic,” Scudieri explained. “If a samurai from 400 years ago walked into our dojo, they’d be at home.”

    For more on Scudieri and Delaware Budokan, check out their website at or call the dojo at (302) 436-8189. “Modern Masters of the Martial Arts” is currently available through online retailers and at Delaware Budokan, at 37221 Johnson Road, Selbyville.

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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The chefs at the new Bluecoast in Rehoboth from left, Scott Viselli, Doug Ruley and Jason Diettrick.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The chefs at the new Bluecoast in Rehoboth from left, Scott Viselli, Doug Ruley and Jason Diettrick.Choosing the right menu took about 10 months. Choosing the right blueprint for their now 10th restaurant took nearly that long, too.

    But even with the layout designed entirely around the restaurant’s open kitchen — setting the stage for the chefs of SoDel Concepts more so than ever before — choosing the right chefs for the job took hardly any time at all for SoDel Concepts President Scott Kammerer and Vice President/Corporate Chef Doug Ruley.

    “It was important to us to make the open kitchen a focal point, so you could see the action and from every seat,” said Kammerer of the new Bluecoast location on Route 1 in Rehoboth Beach, which celebrated its grand opening earlier this month.

    “An open kitchen connects you more to the food and connects you more to the chefs. We’re a chef-driven company at SoDel Concepts. The chefs are the stars — and these are three of our biggest.”

    Along with Ruley overseeing operations, the second location of the company’s first-ever venture (the original Bluecoast north of Bethany) will feature longtime SoDel veterans Scott Viselli and Jason Diettrick to headline the nightly show.

    A native of Newark, N.J., now living in Ocean View, Diettrick has been with the company since getting his start in the culinary arts at 18, skyrocketing through the ranks to be put in charge of two restaurants by 21 and most recently holding the head chef position at Ocean View’s Northeast Seafood kitchen and Bluecoast Bethany.

    Viselli grew up in Northern Virginia, where he ran his own restaurant and seafood market, eventually making his way to Delaware in 2011 before getting his start with SoDel as the sous-chef at Catch 54 near Fenwick Island.

    It wasn’t long after that he’d be called upon to take over as the head chef at Papa Grande’s right next door, going on to be named Coastal Style magazine’s Sussex County Chef of the Year in 2015 after taking over at The Cove at Bayside.

    With that kind of experience, it’s no surprise that the sailing has been more than smooth for the culinary “dream team” behind the limelighted-line of the restaurant’s new state-of-the-art kitchen. That’s despite averaging upwards of 500 guests and breaking company records nearly every night since opening the doors in Rehoboth in early June — all the while living up to the name of a restaurant once named one of the Top 10 destination restaurants in America by Attaché magazine.

    “The first night we opened, it was like we had been open for a whole year. That’s how it felt,” said Ruley of the leadership from both Diettrick and Viselli. “They both have a lot of experience — Jason has been with us forever, Scott’s been with us for years now — and they’re just both guys that have proven themselves and that we know we can count on.”

    What’s new at Blue

    While the chefs may be the stars, Kammerer said the vision for what’s been a brand new concept for SoDel was to be able to offer something for everyone.

    Whether it’s sitting down for a dozen oysters at the raw bar, going elbows-up on a double-stack burger and a local craft beer during happy-hour, heading outside to the fire pit to enjoy live music five nights a week with a four-legged friend (even pets are welcome on the patio), fine-dining with the grandparents in the restaurant’s “library,” or even just stopping in for lunch before heading back to the beach, Bluecoast Rehoboth aims to cater to locals and visitors alike, while at the same time carrying out the tradition for which SoDel Concepts has become famous.

    “We wanted to build a timeless, classic restaurant with quintessential Delaware seafood that would be able to serve generations of families — beautiful, simple food,” Kammerer explained. “We wanted it to be a restaurant that was accepting and open for a lot of different uses.”

    “It’s definitely new,” added Ruley. “The outside is something we haven’t really ever gotten into before. Where else can you go play shuffleboard, cornhole — there’s a basketball out there, for some reason — we’ve got the fire pit, stage for live music, and then you can bring your dog on the patio.”

    Of course, for die-hard fans of the original, it isn’t all uncharted waters. There are still plenty of SoDel signature classics on the menu, too.

    Some of the past Bluecoast hits include the twin buttermilk fried baby lobster tails with spicy mayo and ponzu, steamed shrimp dumplings and the grilled veal meatloaf with redskin mashed potatoes and veal jus.

    Then there’s tributes to some of the other favorite dishes from some of the other favorite SoDel spots, including Northeast making an appearance with the NESK fried chicken, Rehoboth Avenue’s Lupo Di Mare inspiring the lobster cavatappi topped off with white cheddar béchamel and truffle, as well as an array of other pasta dishes, and even Papa Grande’s fresh-squeezed lime and agave margaritas making a menu cameo on the drink list.

    “Coastal Classics” on the entree menu include the crab imperial-stuffed jumbo shrimp, fried oyster or fried fresh-catch platter with hand-cut french fries and house-made coleslaw, jumbo-lump crabcakes and fresh-daily softshells (a house favorite so far). And surf-less turf options include the slow-cooked pork chops and ribeye topped with fried egg, among others. There’s a full kid’s menu, too.

    Happy-hour runs Monday through Friday, with specials at the bar, and much like the Bethany location, Bluecoast Rehoboth features an extensive wine list and full bar stocked with plenty of specialty cocktails, including the watermelon crushes and seasonal sangria, as well as local craft beers from Dogfish Head out of Milton, Mispillion River from Milford and RAR Brewing out of Cambridge, Md., just to name a few.

    At the raw bar, be sure to hashtag #SODELSHUCKS when ordering fresh-daily local oysters and clams, oyster shooters, chilled crab claws, scallop sashimi or the “Sussex Style Caviar.” And whether it’s a late-night libation from the drink menu’s selection of ports and cordials, or an after-dinner indulgence, such as the key lime pie, warm cinnamon bread pudding or caramelized orange and honey crème brûlée, there’s something for fans of both “True Blue” and “New Blue” throughout the lineup.

    Considering the lineup in the kitchen, however, unsurprisingly, it’s been the making of that menu that’s been the main attraction.

    Dinner and a show

    It’s no secret that Ruley, Diettrick and Viselli have all seen their fair share of the spotlight throughout the culinary careers — whether it be displaying their latest dessert at the annual Girl Scout Cookie Throwdown, being featured at the James Beard House in New York (Ruley, three times) or even just putting on their own personal episodes of “Iron Chef” nightly throughout the open kitchens of Northeast and Papa Grande’s.

    But the open kitchen at Bluecoast Rehoboth has opened up a whole new way for the faces of SoDel to interface with their guests directly.

    “It’s an amazing kitchen. I definitely feel at home here,” said Viselli. “When you’re back there and you can look out the window — no matter how busy you are — and actually get to see somebody enjoying their food, and the smile on their face, for me it definitely makes it all worthwhile.”

    “We want to kind of put on a show,” added Ruley. “The hot seat right now is sitting in front of the raw bar — that’s where people want to be. They want to be able to see the action. But, honestly, from any seat in this restaurant you can see everything that’s going on.”

    And so far, there’s been plenty of action going on to see.

    Behind the SoDel Concepts reputation, it almost goes without saying that the new 4,500-square-foot Rehoboth restaurant, capable of seating 250 guests, can get busy — even for the most seasoned of chef.

    But when the line hits full stride, the chef team at Bluecoast trade in the smiling faces of customers to look to another face for inspiration — one that, admittedly, probably wouldn’t be smiling much if there were dishes yet to be plated to perfection during the dinner hour.

    ‘The King is gone, but not forgotten’

    It’s been nearly three years since SoDel Concepts founder and worldwide philanthropist Matt Haley passed away after a motorcycle accident during a humanitarian mission in Nepal.

    But even in a brand new restaurant, his presence still looms as large, as it always had before for the chefs who once worked alongside him.

    The pieces are everywhere.

    On display in the dining room hangs the original menus from Haley’s first restaurant, Red Fin (which eventually became Bluecoast).

    Recalling a particular dish from 3rd Edition during Haley’s early days as a chef there, Diettrick suggested that they add their own twist before adding the 3rd Edition spicy-chili chicken wings to the Bluecoast menu as an homage.

    The jar of dried curry leaves he once gave to Ruley is on proud display on the line, and while they all may feel him watching over them anyway, his picture hangs above the kitchen, too — smiling bright even during times he himself may not have been.

    “That’s just Matt — that’s just who he was,” said Diettrick with a laugh. “It’s always been one of Matt Haley’s visions, is to have open kitchens. You hear the pots and pans, you hear the chatter of the chefs — it just creates a different atmosphere as soon as you walk in the door. There’s still a part of Matt in all of us that have worked with him.”

    “His picture is right above my station,” added Viselli. “We’re an extremely busy restaurant, so to know that he’s always right there, staring at me — it’s really like he’s right there staring at me. You’re not going to give up, and you’re not going to send out a dish that isn’t perfect, because you know he wouldn’t have either.”

    For Ruley, even as the corporate chef and vice president of a now double-digit number of restaurants and with all of his experience in the culinary arts, Haley is still there with him, too — not only as mentor, but as reminder of what’s really important, and why they do what they do.

    “We have the curry leaves that he had given us on the line. We have his picture above us in the kitchen, so we have him with us, he’s there,” said Ruley. “For me, when it gets intense and it gets busy, to know that you could be gone in a split second like that — it kind of brings you back and gives you perspective.

    “I think that Matt would definitely be proud of what’s going on with the company and what we’ve done here, and I know he’d be proud of Scott — he’s really stepped up to lead in a big way.”

    Sussex County’s Next Top Chef

    After the summer winds down, Ruley will hand over the reins for Diettrick and Visielli to continue leading on in Rehoboth while he prepares for whatever the future holds next for SoDel Concepts — all the while looking for the next generation of potential star chefs ready to earn their way to one day running a show of their own.

    At Bluecoast, Diettrick and Visielli will do the same.

    After all, it’s the SoDel concept of finding the right chefs for the right restaurant and continuing to pass the culinary torch that’s allowed them to continue to grow as a company and continue on their mission to “make beautiful, simple food” while making the communities that they’re part of — and the world beyond — “a better place.”

    “The opportunities are there for the right person that wants it,” said Diettrick. “We surround ourselves with those kind of people that want that same thing and have that same drive — that we already know will succeed and become something big in this company.”

    “For me, SoDel is pretty much proof that, if you work hard, it pays off,” added Viselli. “They take care of their employees and provide the right opportunities. The work you put in comes back to you.”

    While Diettrick and Visielli are already doing their part to mentor young chefs, such as their sous-chef Charlie “The Firecracker” Moronski, as he tries to pave his way to a similarly successful career with the company, for them, it’s not the limelight and the accolades or the awards that keep them going.

    Mostly, it still comes down to the reason that they started out as chefs in the first place.

    “It’s never really been my thing,” Visielli said of seeking out recognition. “Don’t get me wrong — to be honored with something like the Chef of the Year award and to be recognized with so many other local chefs is amazing but it’s not why I do it — I just love what I do.”

    “That’s why we have guys like Scott in our company. They’re humble. They want to come in and work, there’s no egos,” said Ruley. “We have the vision and we have the plan, and we like to bring people in that subscribe to the same plan that we have — that’s basically just to cook good food for good people.”

    As for Kammerer, he said he’s just excited to see three of the company’s best doing what they do best as a team.

    “I feel like we’ve just been really blessed to have such an amazing collection of talent here. Scott, Jason and all these guys have so many accolades and so many awards that they’ve won, they’ve all done all of these amazing things, and now they’re coming in here together and working as a cohesive unit,” Kammerer said.

    “It’s all about the team and it’s all about the food. I couldn’t be more proud of them, and I’m just really honored to be able to work with them and be a part of what they’re doing.”

    Bluecoast Seafood Grill & Raw Bar in Rehoboth is located at 30115 Veteran’s Way, directly off of Route 1, in front of the Fresh Market.

    The restaurant is open seven days a week and will stay open year-round. For more information, call the restaurant at (302) 278-7395, visit their website at or visit their Facebook page at For a full list of SoDel Concepts restaurants, or information on Plate Catering or SoDel Cares, visit

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    Coastal Point photos • Susan Lyons: A glimpse of one of the gardens that will be featured on the inaugural garden tour on Thursday, June 29.Coastal Point photos • Susan Lyons: A glimpse of one of the gardens that will be featured on the inaugural garden tour on Thursday, June 29.Nine private gardens and one local landmark in the Fenwick Island area will be in the spotlight next week, and members of the Barefoot Gardeners Club have been very busy getting those gardens ready for their close-up.

    On Thursday, June 29, the club will host its inaugural Coastal Garden Tour, featuring nine homes located on the oceanside, bayside and in between. The Fenwick Island Lighthouse grounds, which the club members have also been tending to for years, will also be a highlight of the tour.

    Last Saturday morning, many of the club members attended a “preview” tour, during which Gregory Tepper — director of horticulture for the Delaware Botanic Gardens — provided helpful information on each garden to the Barefoot Gardeners members who will be hosting each of them on tour day.

    As Tepper and the gardeners traveled to each garden, he could be heard uttering the scientific names of many of the plants on display and giving tips as to where each grows best. At one stop, Tepper gave advice that could be the theme for all gardens: “It’s trial and error,” he said.

    The gardens on the Coastal Garden Tour are a testament to that. Some have been planted, replanted, cultivated and loved for more than 50 years; others have been brought to their present glory after being recreated and reimagined after storms and home renovations have done them harm.

    In the case of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse grounds, the Barefoot Gardeners have maintained the property around the lighthouse, which is owned by the State of Delaware, since 2008. They paid for water service and irrigation for the garden there, and members have carefully chosen plants that would have been found in the area in the lighthouse’s earliest days, in the late 1800s, such as boxwoods, hollyhocks, Shasta daisies and native grasses.

    The lighthouse property is significant because of its historical importance in the town, as well as the abundance of native plants that grace its landscaping. Members of the Barefoot Gardeners regularly spend time pulling weeds, pruning and grass-cutting on the historic property, in cooperation with the Friends of the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, garden tour committee chair Carol McCloud said.

    The Barefoot Gardeners formed as a club in 2004 and have been involved with the lighthouse “pretty much since the beginning,” McCloud said.

    The tour also includes an oceanfront property, six bayside homes and two properties on Route 54 in West Fenwick.

    McCloud said the 59-member club began planning the tour about a year ago. Although the club has held tours of members’ gardens before, this is the first time it has held a public tour. The inaugural event is set for Thursday, June 29, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will be held rain or shine, McCloud said.

    Since the Barefoot Gardeners maintain the gardens at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, including it in the club’s first public tour was a natural choice, and it was the first garden chosen for the tour, according to McCloud.

    While most of the gardens belong to club members, in addition to the lighthouse, there are three other properties that McCloud said will add even more dimension to the tour.

    The Campbell property on Route 54 is historically significant to the area — particularly its agricultural roots, McCloud said. “It’s part of the history of the area,” and the property features a vegetable garden and an extensive collection of historical artifacts, she said.

    The Cabot property on the bayside in the town of Fenwick Island and the Zonko property on Route 54 add even more variety to the mix, McCloud said.

    All proceeds from the tour will go to the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek in Dagsboro. The Barefoot Gardeners have been involved in that project “since Day 1,” McCloud said, and members can often be found volunteering on the grounds.

    The Delaware Botanic Gardens is a 10-year project designed to result in a major public garden along Piney Neck Road. The parcel has a unique mix of upland plateau, woodlands and more than 1,000 feet of tidal waterfront on Pepper Creek, and organizers are seeking to bring visitors from the local area and beyond, for both education and pleasure.

    Tickets to the Coastal Garden Tour cost $25 in advance and are available at the Coastal Point office in Ocean View, the Good Earth Market in Clarksville, the at Bayville Postal in the Bayville Shopping Center in West Fenwick, Atlantic Body Works in Millville and Southern Exposure in Fenwick Island. They will also be for sale at Fenwick Town Hall on weekends until the tour. Tickets will also be available the day of the tour, at any of the tour sites, for $30.

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