REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — They say the only constant is change, and that’s certainly true here as several local businesses popular with the LGBT community closed in the off season, including leather bar the Double L, Proud Bookstore and the Lula Brazil restaurant.
Despite the closures, many businesses here are LGBT-owned, and almost all are friendly to the community.
A number of places have called Rehoboth home for many years, including Blue Moon (35 Baltimore Ave.), Lori’s Café (39 Baltimore Ave.), Purple Parrot (134 Rehoboth Ave.), and Coffee Mill (Rehoboth Mews, 127 Rehoboth Ave.), while some are newcomers.
The Blue Moon, now in its 36th season, will continue to offer some of the best dining in Rehoboth as well as entertainment almost nightly, featuring recording star Pamala Stanley who will be performing Sundays through Thursdays, bingo on Tuesday nights with divas, and an impressive array of performers during the summer, including Lady Bunny, Jimmy James and the Chantels. Also coming this year is Toni Scott, who, according to Blue Moon co-owner Tim Ragan, “has been hailed as the Bette Midler of the new millennium.” Visit bluemoonrehoboth.com for a full list of entertainers.
Among the new businesses on what is arguably Rehoboth’s gayest street is Edgewater Men’s Wear, located at 46 Baltimore Ave. Its owner also operates a second store with the same name at Penny Lane Mall (42 Rehoboth Ave. #5). His Baltimore Avenue store replaces Adorn (a jewelry store) and is the former location of the Rehoboth edition of Universal Gear. Alberts’ stores feature stylish clothing, accessories, gifts and fragrances.
Gone from Baltimore Avenue is Miss Pixie’s Rehoboth store, but there are many retail stores still operating, including Elegant Slumming, Brick and Mortar in the CAMP Courtyard, r Squared Design for home furnishings, Beach Essentials (33 Baltimore Ave.) and numerous other businesses.
On Baltimore Avenue and 2nd Street, the always-vibrant Aqua continues to operate with an open patio, welcoming menu — and shirtless waiters. Eden, JAM, Café Azafran all on the beach block of Baltimore Avenue, continue to offer some of the best dining options in town.
Purple Parrot, a longtime favorite for food, drag entertainment and its popular biergarten, is located at 134 Rehoboth Ave. One of the Parrot’s owners, Hugh Fuller, is returning to his roots by re-opening the Iguana Grill in mid May. Another change: look for last year’s Blade winner for Best Rehoboth Bartender, Matt Urban, behind the bar at the Parrot.
Rigby’s (404 Rehoboth Ave.) has a happy hour that attracts a large crowd with live entertainment, karaoke and fine food. Dos Locos (208 Rehoboth Ave.) is known for its margaritas, Mexican and stone grill specialties, and will soon undergo a change in ownership.
Sam Calagione, who just won the James Beard Prize for outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional, opens his long-awaited Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats on May 19. The original pub closed on May 7, but will remain open during the summer as a retail outlet where customers can purchase Dogfish Head merchandise and fill growlers, according to Delaware Online. The original Dogfish Head building is then to be torn down and turned into a courtyard connecting the new Dogfish Head with Chesapeake & Maine, a restaurant next door also owned by Calagione.
Other new establishments include Blue Hen on Wilmington Avenue, owned by the team that operates the always-packed Henlopen Oyster House down the street; and the Blue Coast restaurant in front of Fresh Market, which is expected to open in June.
There are several venues owned by lesbians that draw a crowd. Many of them are located on Rehoboth Avenue extended, near where Rehoboth meets Route 1. The Swell, which has reopened even stronger than before after a devastating fire two years ago, will have entertainment every night; Murph’s Bar and Pub, lesbian owned with a mixed crowd, is the home of, among other entertainers, dueling pianos with two local gay pianists, John Flynn and Matthew Kenworthy playing on Saturday Nights; and Java Jukebox, which opened this year, will feature a number of comic acts, including Suzanne Westenhoefer on July 7.
The Coffee Mill in Rehoboth Mews features more than 100 different coffees, breakfast treats, wraps and sandwiches. The owners also have a shop, BRASHhh, on North First Street across from Nicola Pizza, which offers photographs by the owner and clothing. A few doors north is the gay-owned Double Dippers Ice Cream, which is entering its 19th year.
There’s a new Starbucks, on Route 1 south, next to the Shoppes at Camelot, and a new Surf Bagel at the Midway Shopping Center. At a new building just south of the Wawa on Route 1 northbound near Route 24 is the area’s first Jewish deli, Rosenfeld’s Famous Jewish Deli. The original is in Ocean City.
Soon, Rehoboth will have its first Indian Restaurant, Indigo, which is slated for 44 Rehoboth Ave., and word on the street is that an upscale restaurant and wine bar will go into the space once occupied by Cloud Nine, and most recently by Lula Brazil.
If it rains, head north to Lefty’s Alley and Eats in Lewes, which offers 16 lanes of bowling, a sprawling second-floor laser tag facility and bustling restaurant, bar and arcade for the kids and kids at heart. It’s an impressive, state-of-the-art complex that opened in February.
Another exciting newcomer to the scene is Big Chill Beach Club, located on the ocean side just south of the Indian River Bridge. It will occupy a unique space, right on the sand with a weather-proof rooftop restaurant and bar seating 200.
Please be aware of some new beach regulations — especially the size restrictions on umbrellas; no more than 36 inches in height, width and depth are permitted. Totally restricted will be tarps, cabanas, tents and canopies. Grills and cooking devices are also banned. According to Patrick Gossett, a gay city commissioner, “this ordinance was enacted to keep beachgoers safe while allowing emergency personnel the ability to navigate our beaches in case of emergencies.”