The long-awaited new venue, one of the biggest new attractions on Delmarva in 2017, is getting closer to opening, with Friday, May 26 as target date to kick off Memorial Day Weekend. Wochit
In the summer of 2013 at Delaware's beaches, all eyes were Hammerheads Dockside, a restaurant and bar that opened at the state-run Indian River Marina near Bethany Beach.
The spin-off eatery from the loved-by-locals Hammerheads in Dewey Beach would be a test: could it survive without being in the center of a beach town?
Would people leave those towns and drive along Del. 1 for a marina view, live music and a beachy feel thanks to palm trees and ground covered in sand?
In short, the answer was yes.
And now, four years later, another known beach restaurant brand is headed to the same area, but this time on the ocean side of the Indian River Inlet.
The owners of the new rooftop Big Chill Beach Club (27099 Del. 1, near Bethany Beach) are eyeing a Memorial Day weekend opening, although if there are delays it could be a little later, says Josh Grapski, managing partner of La Vida Hospitality Group, the team behind Big Chill Beach Club and its inspiration, Big Chill Surf Cantina near Rehoboth Beach.
"We've been looking for an oceanfront venue for years," says Grapski, whose restaurant group also owns beach spots such as Fork and Flask at Nage, Crooked Hammock Restaurant & Brewery and the Taco Reho food truck. "And we've seen how successful [Hammerheads Dockside] has been in terms of being able to pull people to that area."
Other than Dewey Beach's Two Seas restaurant, Big Chill Beach Club will boast the only other 360-degree view at Delaware's beach restaurants.
But while Two Seas allows looks of the Atlantic Ocean and Rehoboth Bay with a block's worth of Dewey Beach on each side, Big Chill Beach Club offers a clear perspective that will make any beach bum salivate. There are wide open views of the ocean, the inlet, Indian River Bay and the Indian River Inlet Bridge.
And at night, when the suspension bridge is illuminated in a sleek neon blue, it might feel more like Miami than downstate Delaware. (Big Chill Beach Club will close at 10 p.m. nightly.)
The upper deck of the restaurant and watering hole near Delaware Seashore State Park has been built atop of the already existing concession stand, which will remain open during the day.
Big Chill Beach Club features an Austrian-made 36-foot umbrella with a bar underneath. Enclosed glass walls allow for a view but protect from wind. Owners say it can withstand winds of up to 100 miles per hour. (Hurricane season could possibly put that to the test.)
The restaurant, which will be open through mid-October, also has a newly-built event tent adjacent to the restaurant for private parties, weddings and more. They can accommodate dinner for up to 160 guests -- provided by Fork + Flask at Nage -- and parties of up to 200.
While the view is undoubtedly Big Chill Beach Club's greatest draw, La Vida Hospitality Group wants to make sure that the food keeps them coming back.
The menu will have boardwalk fare like hamburgers, hot dogs and crinkle cut French fries, along with an oyster bar plus other seafood. And there will be plenty of Taco Reho offerings, such as burritos and fish tacos. In short, something for everyone.
And when it comes to parking, the good news is that there are 588 parking spots at the state lot that surrounds the restaurant.
A beach bar with plenty of parking? While that may seem too good to be true, there is a bit of a catch.
Restaurant customers will have to pay the Delaware State Parks' parking fee -- $5 in-state/$10 out-of-state. (Annual passes are $35 for residents and $70 for non-residents if you're planning on becoming a Big Chill Beach Bar regular.)
"People ask if they have to pay for parking and they do," Grapski adds. "But you pay it once and you have a spot without having to compete with Dewey, Rehoboth, Lewes or Bethany where you're driving around, looking for parking, feeding meters and probably paying more than $5 in the end."