This season, the restaurant scene goes cosmo, offering more cuisines from around the world, but remembering local favorites, too.
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Don’t tell Matt Haley that the economy is in a free fall. The entrepreneur seems busier than ever. Haley—co-owner of SoDel Concepts, which owns five beach restaurants—is quickly building the portfolio of Highwater Management, the design, management and consulting business that last year helped launch the successful Que Pasa (124 Dickinson St., Dewey Beach, 226-1820), a Mexican-themed restaurant in Ruddertowne.
This year Highwater Management, which Haley founded with Scott Kamerera and Bryony Zeigler, is not only handling food and beverage at Sports at the Beach, but it’s also helped transform the landmark restaurant Fusion into Salt Air.
Haley and crew are a few of the area veterans who are finding opportunities during the recession. Despite the dismal headlines, several new restaurants have opened at the beach during the past year, which, coupled with relocations, expansions and chef changes, should make hungry visitors happy this summer.
Consider The Lighthouse Cove (124 Dickinson St., Dewey Beach, 226-1680) at Ruddertowne, which Highwater Management helped open in spring. The renovated space is a marriage of the old Lighthouse and Crabbers Cove. Essentially, it holds three concepts. The upper level hosts a new family-oriented crab room. Downstairs offers more upscale dining. (Think lobster and New York strip steaks.) And the main lighthouse features a casual, pub-like atmosphere. Ian Mangin, who has worked at Haley’s Fish On in Lewes, heads the kitchen.
Highwater Management also helped Jonathan Spivak, former owner of Sedona in Bethany, turn Spivak’s Fusion into Salt Air (50 Wilmington Ave., Rehoboth Beach, 227-2444). The fresh, just-off-the-line concept is the brainchild of Spivak and well-known area chef Nino Mancari, formerly of Solstice Grill in Berlin, Maryland. Mancari worked for Spivak as a teen.
The two make a winning combination. “John was one of the first restaurateurs to take a risk and turn out really good, fun, interesting food,” Haley says. “Nino is one of the best chefs to create a menu with items under $22. I’m as excited about this project as I’ve been excited about anything.”
Dishes are steeped in local flavor. Take rockfish stuffed with crab imperial, corn slicked with Old Bay butter, and London broil served with sliced fresh tomatoes and potato salad. But as the restaurant’s name implies, the menu also showcases items accented with salt. Witness sea salt and juniper-cured salmon. Air-cured delicacies are also on the menu.
Page 2: Diversifying Dining, continues...