Julian DeAngelis

Tomato Sunshine

A Beacon of Fresh Produce and Community Spirit

More than just a Produce Stand

Located in the heart of West Rehoboth Beach, Tomato Sunshine is more than just a summer plant and produce stand — it’s a community cornerstone. Julian DeAngelis, 29, and his partner, Mallory, have taken the reins of this beloved family business, continuing a legacy that began in 1993. I had the pleasure of interviewing Julian one warm summer morning.  We spoke about their history, operations, and the personal connections that make Tomato Sunshine shine so brightly.  Julian’s parents founded Tomato Sunshine on Route 1 where they have operated for over 25 years. “Growing up around produce and plants was all I knew,” Julian shared. When the original land was sold, Julian saw an opportunity to relocate and breathe new life into the business. “We were fortunate to find our new location before the area in West Rehoboth started booming with traffic and people,” he explained. This move has allowed them to maintain a connection with their loyal customer base while welcoming new faces. We have listened to customers for years, and it has played a role in Tomato Sunshine’s offerings. “We receive mostly positive feedback, but we always strive to improve based on customer input,” Julian asserted. Personal interactions are at the heart of their business. “We have customers who bring us snacks or dishes they’ve made with our produce,” he shared, highlighting their close-knit relationships.

Seasonally Driven and Customer-Focused

During the summer, Tomato Sunshine is a vibrant hub of activity. “Tomatoes and sweet corn are our biggest sellers,” Julian noted. They also offer many hanging baskets, flowers, perennials, annuals, and fresh local produce. Julian’s commitment to quality over quantity is one factor that sets Tomato Sunshine apart from other produce sellers. I handpick each item to ensure great flavor and appearance,” he said. Their selection process is dynamic, with weekly trips to the wholesale market for the freshest offerings. Owning and operating an outdoor, seasonally driven business can come with its own set of challenges. “Weather can be a significant factor, especially early in the season,” Julian admitted. Finding consistent products can also be challenging, but their customers understand the nature of local, fresh produce. Despite these hurdles, Julian and Mallory are committed to providing the best possible experience for their customers. A typical day at Tomato Sunshine during peak season starts early. “Our crew arrives at 8:30 AM,” Julian detailed. “We stock fresh-picked corn, watermelon and other produce, and provide customer service throughout the day.” Thanks to strong local partnerships, the operation is seamless. For instance, they buy their local corn from Callaway Farms, a relationship that has flourished for many years. 

Off-Season Activities and Future Plans

When summer ends, Julian, and Mallory head to San Diego, embracing a different seasonal lifestyle. “We spend our winters being active, snowboarding, skateboarding, and working part-time in restaurants,” Julian shared. This balance allows them to recharge and bring fresh energy to Tomato Sunshine each year. Ensuring the quality and sustainability of their produce and plants is paramount. They donate leftover produce to the Epworth food bank, minimizing waste and supporting the community. Looking ahead, Julian has ambitious plans. “We aim to expand our tent size next year, allowing for more products and produce,” he revealed. This growth mindset is coupled with a dedication to giving customers the best produce and quality they have come to expect. Regarding his favorite produce, Julian is passionate about corn and watermelons. “We eat corn almost every other night,” he laughed. His advice for young people looking to start a similar business? “Follow your passion and give it your best effort. Everything should work out in the end.”

Tomato Sunshine is not just a business; it’s a testament to the power of community, tradition, and dedication. Julian and Mallory’s commitment to providing fresh, high-quality produce and plants while fostering meaningful relationships with their customers ensures that Tomato Sunshine will continue to thrive for years. 

Chef Hari Cameron is a renowned culinary expert, consultant and restaurateur. He has received critical acclaim for his modern farm-to-table approach to cooking and has been recognized for his numerous contributions to the hospitality industry. With a passion for using the highest quality Mid-Atlantic ingredients, Chef Cameron has become a leading voice in today’s culinary landscape.

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