Fenwick’s Tasty Tradition
For the Mumford clan, Warren’s Station offers a living and a lifestyle. For diners, Warren’s offers great hospitality.
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In June 1970, Jeff and Paula Mumford took a vacation to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. Jeff, who’d recently graduated from the University of Delaware, was still looking for a job. Paula, three years his senior, was a teacher in North Wilmington.
When they returned home, the apartment phone was ringing. Paula picked it up. It was Warren D. Johnson, owner of Warren’s Family Restaurant in Fenwick Island, where Jeff had worked summers since he was 14.
“If you want this place, come get it,” Johnson told Paula. “I can’t run it without you.” Forty years later, “Here we are,” says Paula, sitting in the couple’s attractive home, across the parking lot from Warren’s Station on Ocean Highway at Indian Street. They renamed it in 1983 after rebuilding it to look like an old U.S. Lifesaving Service station. Now it even has a new blue roof and solar panels.
The restaurant, which turns 50 this year, is as much of an icon as the Fenwick Island Lighthouse and the Bethany Beach totem pole. Only this tourist attraction will whet your appetite. Picture a fan of Texas toast, dipped in a special mix, cooked to a crisp golden brown and dusted with powdered sugar.
Then there is the 6-ounce “crab cutlet,” a baked potato-sized crab cake. “My husband particularly loves the crab cutlet, and normally he gets the combo with the cutlet and the turkey salad,” says Meg Morgan, who has been visiting Warren’s Station with her family for 16 years.
Odd combo? Not at Warren’s, where turkey rules the roost. “Every day is Thanksgiving,” says Bill Newman of Rehoboth Beach. Along with the traditional roast turkey dinner, the restaurant serves turkey salad, turkey-rice soup, turkey croquettes, turkey clubs and turkey BLTs. As Jeff Baxter of Bethany Beach puts it, “The turkey is fantastic.”
The restaurant’s milestone birthday is a remarkable achievement, not only because the restaurant industry has more ups and downs than a Funland ride, but also because it’s stayed in the Mumford family since they took ownership in 1971. This is a place where some things change—Caesar salads, broiled offerings and spinach salads are relatively new to the menu—and some things stay the same, namely the summer hours, the family-friendly service and the good value.
Warren’s Family Restaurant was the dream of Johnson, a middle-aged turkey farmer from Nottingham, Pennsylvania. Johnson, who wanted a summer-only business, frequently visited friends in Fenwick. He liked what he saw and decided to open a restaurant—never mind the fact he had no restaurant experience.
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