REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — The off season here is a time for renewal and this year is no exception, as a number of restaurants, clothing, home décor, fitness and entertainment businesses expand, relocate or establish a presence.
“Since most of these moves involve expansions and additional facilities, it shows the confidence people have in this beach community, with support from both residents and visitors,” said Steve Elkins, executive director of the LGBT advocacy organization CAMP Rehoboth.
Among the changes in restaurants and bars, JAM has moved across the street from its previous location to the site of the former Camel’s Hump, next door to Eden. The expansive deck will undoubtedly become a popular place for outdoor summer dining.
The new JAM joins a host of gay-owned and gay-friendly spots on Baltimore Avenue, including MIXX (26 Baltimore Ave., lower level), whose owners also own the popular Frogg Pond. Other spots on Baltimore Avenue include the lesbian-owned Seafood Shack, a remodeled Sole (formerly Café Sole), Aqua, Blue Moon and Lori’s Café in the CAMP Courtyard, which is beginning its 10th year with new items on the menu.
But the biggest changes have happened across town on Wilmington Avenue. On the beach block, what was Retro Café has become Cosmopolitan Grill (10 Wilmington Ave.). Look for live entertainment on the grand piano. Also new is the Tuscan Grille, opening in the old Cultured Pearl location on Wilmington. Much beloved La La Land, which has been vacant for some time, will become Mallory Square Fish House & Grille. The block already has the popular Spanish/Mexican restaurant Mariachi’s (a favorite for outdoor dining), a remodeled Salt Air (don’t worry, they’ve rectified the smoke problem) and Henlopen Oyster House (best Bloody Mary in town, chock full of pickled veggies).
The second block of Wilmington has seen some changes as well with the addition of a New Orleans-inspired eatery known as Cypress on the site of the former Shag. Also on that block are the biergarten of the Purple Parrot and long-time popular restaurant Planet X.
Other changes to the local dining scene include Nourish, which started as a catering business, and has now added a café and is expanding to a second location at the Stuart Kingston Building on the boardwalk. The Coffee Mill, at Rehoboth Mews next to Browseabout Books on Rehoboth Avenue, has been gay-owned since 1992. It has expanded its menu and offers more than 100 varieties of fair trade and organic coffees. You can also view and purchase Rehoboth-oriented photographs shot by the owner while there. Cloud Nine, Purple Parrot, Dos Locos, and Rigby’s on Rehoboth Avenue still serve fine food. Watch for special shows as well, including drag and karaoke nights.
A good source for information on all local food establishments is rehobothfoodie.com.
For the fashion conscious, new arrivals include the popular Universal Gear at 46 Baltimore Ave. “The time is right for me to open a place in Rehoboth,” said Universal Gear owner David Franco. It joins Beach Essentials, Rock Creek and many others in the growing in-town shopping scene. For those looking for more casual finds, don’t miss Out Gear on Rehoboth Avenue.
You will also find an amazing array of home décor shops, including Boxwood, Elegant Slumming, Mod Cottage, DCOR and Wooden Indian, to name but a few.
Looking for a good workout while in town? There have been relocations and expansions of some of the area’s health clubs. 24/7 Club Fitness, which was in the shopping plaza opposite Spring Lake on Route 1, has moved to a larger space in the Rehoboth Mall near Walmart. At 1st and Rehoboth (the 1st Street Station) you will find Body Shop Fitness Center, which was formerly on the Boardwalk. And Midway Fitness behind the movie theater is now open 24 hours.
There are many places to be entertained in Rehoboth. The Double L has made significant internal changes. It has been renamed the L Bar (622 Rehoboth Ave.) and will offer entertainment, including the very popular Man Dance. Proud Books (149 Rehoboth Ave.), owned by Jocques LeClair, the personable former manager of the Rehoboth branch of Lambda Rising, is beginning its second year with an expanded inventory.
A favorite wine and liquor establishment, Bin 66, has relocated to a larger space on Route 1, just south of Rehoboth, across from the Spring Lake development. The other location remains in the building operated by Cultured Pearl. They will offer numerous wine tastings during the summer.
On the second Saturday of each month, many local art galleries participate in an art walk. In addition, a number of the galleries, including Phillip Morton and Ward Ellinger galleries, and Gallery 50, devote space to gay and lesbian artists. Look for exhibit openings and receptions while in Rehoboth.
During the 1940s, Rehoboth Beach became a summer destination for Broadway personalities. With the inception of the Clear Space Theater Company, started by a gay couple, Rehoboth has reestablished itself as an entertainment destination. The theatre is located at 20 Baltimore Ave. It will provide first-rate entertainment throughout the summer with both local and Broadway performers.