Skip in Skip
x

Embed

x
CLOSE

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

309 16 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Josh Grapski was forced, at times, to raise his voice to speak at a sound level higher than the buzzing and humming of construction all around him.

The La Vida Hospitality Group managing partner was standing on one of the many decks at the soon-to-be-opened Big Chill Beach Club, talking about the many features the club will bring to the Delaware Seashore State Park.

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. If not that date, then "really close" to then, Grapski said.

At a Tuesday morning press conference, DNREC's Delaware State Parks announced the official grand opening of the new full-service restaurant and bar built atop the park's existing bathhouse next to the Indian River Inlet Bridge. 

Speakers at the press conference included Gov. John Carney, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin, Delaware Tourism Office Director Linda Parkowski, Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens and Grapski.

The partnership between state parks and La Vida Hospitality — owners of other beach favorites Fork & Flask at Nage Restaurant, Crooked Hammock, Big Chill Surf Cantina and more — is the largest public/private partnership and capital investment (more than $1 million) in state parks history, according to Carney and Garvin.

“The state parks really thrive on partnership, leveraging resources, leveraging challenges and turning them into positives for the people of Delaware," Garvin said.

“This is a really important industry in our state, the $3 billion tourism industry," Carney said. "It drives so much employment and so much fun and so many visitors come here to this place, and we’re enhancing it with this public-private partnership.”

The partnership is an obvious one for Grapski and the rest of La Vida Hospitality to take part in. 

“To kind of define that word partnership, we view this as us working with the state parks to enhance an experience that’s already great here at the Seashore State Park," Grapski said. "We know tons of people are coming here. We hope to be an additional amenity to the park that people can enjoy in a different way.”

It will be a much different way than park-goers are used to. The construction site is an easy indicator of that. Work began on-site on Feb. 1 by Lighthouse Construction of Dover.

Big Chill is a sprawling space with 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian River Inlet and Indian River Bay. There will be seating for up to 200 guests to enjoy dining and cocktail service. 

Other features include a $300,000 adjustable umbrella "room" for rooftop dining. There's a bar inside the umbrella'd area with 24 bar stools. The umbrella, manufactured in Austria, is 36-feet wide and is designed to protect against rain and wind up to 100 mph.

RELATED: Three Delaware beach towns approved for emergency nourishment

Food at Big Chill is designed to be typical beach fare, with classics like burgers, hot dogs and crinkle-cut fries. Of course, there will be seafood and an oyster bar. Grapski said La Vida is putting its own twist on it by adding SoCal tacos from Taco Reho, its food truck in Rehoboth Beach.

Guests can take food to the beach but alcohol will not be able to hit the sand.

Big Chill will employ "northwards" of 50 to begin the season, Grapski said, though he added that number may rise around July 4.

READ MORE: Bloody Mary competition returns to the Starboard on May 21

Also on the property is an event tent, which will play host to weddings and other events.

“We’re currently working on a couple different partnerships with some of our local marketing friends to bring different events, beer festivals, culinary coast events," Grapski said of the tent area. "Things like that will allow us to use this space and really show off this beautiful state park.”

The immediate area near the state park, Carney said, is a place he consistently recommends to colleagues in Washington.

“I’ve always felt the top of the Indian River bridge has the best view in the whole state of Delaware," Carney said. 

“I wish I could stay here all day.”

Also on Tuesday, the Delaware Tourism Office unveiled 50 new beach umbrellas available for rent at the Seashore State Park. The umbrellas are emblazoned with the Visit Delaware logo and have the new slogan, "Endless Discoveries" featured on them as well.

The umbrellas, Parkowski said, will be "dotting the beaches for years to come."

jneiburg@delmarvanow.com

309 16 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.delmarvanow.com/story/entertainment/dining/2017/05/16/big-chill-beach-club-nearing-memorial-day-opening/325208001/