208 Rehoboth Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
A popular dining destination with Rehoboth Beach residents and visitors alike, Dos Locos is typically noted for its consistently tasty food and laid-back atmosphere. Since 2000, it’s been co-owned and run by Joe Zuber and husband Darryl Ciarlante.
“We’re honestly living the dream,” says Zuber. “Together we’re achieving our goals and doing it as a team. We really enjoy working together. We take our days off and vacations together, too. For us it works. We wouldn’t want it any other way.”
There is a method to making all this togetherness run smoothly: “At Dos Locos our roles are clearly defined,” says Zuber who’s spent his professional life in the food service industry. “We each have our responsibilities: Darryl oversees the bar, building maintenance, and all the financials; whereas I oversee the dining room, kitchen, human resources and marketing. And we work together on some things like changes to our all-day happy hour and daily specials. Of course, we have our fallouts and arguments. But you get over it and move on. There’s just too much to do, so we agree to disagree.”
Prior to buying the restaurant, Zuber and Ciarlante were Rehoboth weekenders. During the week they lived and worked in South Jersey, but come Friday they headed directly to the quaint beach community. In those days, they often dined at Dos Locos (“Two Crazies”), then an intimate restaurant owned by two women. Without fail, they’d order crab quesadilla and crab enchilada respectively, along with their usual frozen margaritas.
Zuber recalls, “We went for dinner one weekend, and I noticed the owners had hung a piece of notebook paper that read ‘restaurant for sale.’ I wanted to jump at the opportunity, but Darryl was reluctant. Earlier in our relationship I’d opened a diner in New Jersey and lost my pants. But there were advantages here: Dos Locos was an established restaurant with loyal customers, so we made the leap. Our intention was to be open April through October.”
But after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Ciarlante left his travel-intensive job, and the pair decided to make Dos Locos a year-round operation. After three years, they relocated to a larger venue, and in 2007, settled into their current address on Rehoboth Avenue. Today, they have 47 full and part-time employees.
From the start, the idea was never to have a gay restaurant, but a place where everyone was welcome and comfortable, and according to its owners they succeeded. Zuber remembers, “in the beginning the gays thought we were too straight and the straights thought we were too gay. Now that’s not an issue. The times have changed.”
A lot of the restaurant’s recipes were collected by one of the restaurant’s original owners years ago during her travels in Mexico and throughout the American Southwest and passed on to the current owners, but as Dos Locos grew so did its menu. Still, basic items like fajitas and the delicious house margarita hold their status as customer favorites year after year.
Both nearing 50, Zuber and Ciarlante have been together for 25 years. Married three years ago in front of the Lincoln Memorial, they are slated to renew their vows in September at an Episcopal church in Rehoboth. “Our marriage in D.C. was just what we wanted at the time. But now we want something more spiritual to commemorate our life together.”
“Right now” says Zuber, “we’re happy with the status quo both personally and professionally. For us, there are no big changes on the immediate horizon.”