REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — Residents and visitors alike here have watched with anticipation the gradual transformation of the old Hobo’s on Baltimore Avenue into the new two-story restaurant and lounge, The Pines.
Dane Wilfong was recently hired as executive chef of The Pines, which is slated to open later this summer. Wilfong has more than a decade of experience working in restaurants and catering.
Wilfong began his career near his hometown of Baltimore at a young age. He became passionate for the restaurant industry and was inspired to study Hospitality and Tourism at Anne Arundel Community College. He has also received accreditations from the American Culinary Federation and certifications as a Sommelier and Serve Safe Practitioner. Prior to taking on the role of executive chef of The Pines, Wilfong served as executive chef of Whitehouse Caterers at Overhills Mansion.
As executive chef, Wilfong will work alongside The Pines co-owner, Tyler Townsend, to choose local food partners, organize menus and assist in the oversight of culinary operations and kitchen staff.
“I tend to use a lot of hyper local ingredients,” Wilfong said. “You go to Delaware because we have a little bit of everything right out our back door.”
Townsend, who was on a path to becoming Major League Baseball’s first openly gay player, had to leave baseball behind due to a recurring hamstring injury. In an interview with the Washington Blade in 2015, Townsend discussed his journey of coming out as gay and what it was like hiding his sexual orientation from teammates and coaches. Townsend returned to Florida International University to complete his studies in hospitality management after his baseball career ended. He was accepted to Florida International on a scholarship and played for the university for three years before he left his senior year to play for the minor league system.
“It was a transition for sure. I did not really know what I wanted to do after baseball,” Townsend said about switching from baseball to becoming a restaurateur. “My family had restaurants growing up, so I was somewhat familiar with them,” he said. “I started to get into wine and loved going out to a great meal with friends and family, so when I went back to get my degree, I chose hospitality management.”
For Townsend, the biggest challenge he sees to finding success with The Pines is just carrying out his vision. He has no doubt that the restaurant will be successful. Townsend’s dream for The Pines is to create the best place for diners to have a good time and make happy memories.
“I’ve worked hard to get where I am today, and I saw that in Dane,” said Townsend. Townsend said he and Wilfong felt like a good match, and he is looking forward to seeing what Wilfong comes up with.
“We have a very thoughtful and unique vision for The Pines.” Wilfong said. “The town of Rehoboth is currently filled with great food and lots of love, but I feel we can set ourselves apart with an upscale city approach to our tavern concept, while still being able to realize what makes Rehoboth so great to so many. We hope to utilize our local resources from farms, orchards, growers and captains for our entirely from scratch fresh take on tavern cuisine.”
Along with Townsend, the restaurant is owned by Bob Suppies. As stated on its website, the restaurant will offer “a winning combination of sensational interior design, a lively atmosphere, creative American cuisine, crafty cocktails and first-class customer service.” The restaurant plans on mixing old and new, combining classic Rehoboth dishes with Wilfong’s twist creating a modern style.