Po’ Boys Creole Restaurant

The Same but Different

New owners preserve and protect longtime restaurants’ legacy.

Not many independent restaurants can boast a decade or more of operation let alone withstand changes in ownership. Yet, several Culinary Coast establishments have demonstrated resilience, partly due to the firm foundation laid by their owners. Perhaps one of the best examples is The Back Porch Café in downtown Rehoboth Beach, which rocked the culinary scene when it opened in 1974. Victor Pisapia and friends Libby York and Ted Fisher started the European-inspired cafe with a then-novel outdoor patio. Keith Fitzgerald became a partner when Libby York pursued a singing career, and Marilyn Spitz joined after Ted, her boyfriend, passed away. In early 2020, Fitzgerald and Spitz sold The Back Porch to employees Dmitry Shubich and Aksana Voranova. Pepper-cured tuna loin, rabbit Bolognese and crisp veal sweetbreads with potato latke remain menu staples.

Also in Rehoboth is Shorebreak Lodge, recently purchased by well-known mixologist Ben Winiarczyk and his wife, Diane. This is the third time the Wilmington Avenue restaurant has changed hands. It was started by the late Rob Stitt, who also founded Eden, and he sold it to Kate Wall in 2017. The Winiarczks have kept the dining room’s overall look, but the South Beach-y atmosphere has been refined. The fun menu categories “Hunt,” “Gather,” and “Fish” remain.

Po’ Boys Creole Restaurant on Milton’s outskirts was founded in 2009 by Amy and Lee Stewart, who later sold it to Mike and Melissa Clampitt. Under Chef Mike’s tenure, the strip mall restaurant rose to hidden gem status. Chase Nelson bought Po’ Boys last year, and while much of the menu is the same—try the gumbo—Nelson is the former executive chef at Eden. Specials have included Asian-style boom boom salmon, braised short ribs and tuna tartare.

To the south, Sedona in Bethany Beach was the dream of Jonathan Spivak, who also founded Fusion in Rehoboth Beach. In 1993, the marketing professional purchased Dante’s Pizza in Bethany Beach and celebrated by having dinner at Shark’s Cove in Fenwick Island. He told server Marian Parrot that he had no restaurant experience and promptly tried to hire her. She took the job and is now the proprietress of Delmarva’s go-to spot for fine dining. Given she’s been with the restaurant since day one, it’s not surprising that there is continuity.

In South Bethany, the venerable Cottage Café opened in June 1993, shortly after founders Tom Neville and Brent Poffenberger graduated from Shepherd University in West Virginia. From the start, the 240-seat restaurant near Sea Colony has specialized in comfort food: turkey dinners, prime rib and fried oysters. Although SoDel Concepts purchased the restaurant in 2022, that’s still the case. And that’s a smart move, for, while new owners often want to put their imprint on the menus and freshen the décor, they understand that the brand has endured for a reason. In short, why mess with a good thing? 

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