In 23 years, Scott Kammerer has come a long way, from a man who traveled to Sussex County from New Jersey in 1992, with a bicycle and $17.
He first began working in restaurants, washing dishes for minimum wage. After a few years competing as a wrestler, Kammerer said, he allowed his addiction to alcohol and drugs take over, and he returned to the restaurant scene. He eventually became the general manager of a busy restaurant in downtown Rehoboth Beach.
“That winter, on the steps of the church right across the street, I met Matt Haley, and my life would never be the same,” said Kammerer at the Southern Delaware Tourism Luncheon on Dec. 9 of his business partner and philanthropist, who passed away in August of 2014 while on a philanthropic trip to India.
Kammerer would later go on to work for Haley, who became his mentor and friend.
“Matt Haley founded SoDel Concepts, and every day we wake up as a company and we try to make him proud. We try to lead our company forward. He was a huge supporter of Southern Delaware, a huge supporter of culinary programs, a huge supporter of everything we have today.”
SoDel Concepts currently has approximately 500 employees, amongst their eight restaurants, catering business food truck, film company and consulting firm. Kammerer estimated that approximately 25,000 people were served by SoDel in the summer season.
Also during the luncheon, the Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers’ Festival received the 2015 Southern Delaware Tourism Award.
According to Scott Thomas, Southern Delaware Tourism executive director, tourism in Sussex County generates $850 million in revenue annually, second only to the county’s agriculture industry.
The annual award recognizes an individual or organization that has made an outstanding and significant contribution to the enrichment of tourism in Sussex County.
The Sea Witch Halloween & Fiddlers’ Festival, which celebrated its 25th year this fall, has grown substantially over the years, from a few thousand attendees initially to nearly 190,000 over the three-day event in 2014. The festival has been named among the American Bus Association’s America’s 100 Best Events numerous times over the years and was named one of the 10 Best Fall Festivals for Families in 2014 by Family Vacation Critic. The festival’s economic impact is estimated at nearly $30 million annually.
The award was presented to Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carol Everhart.
Other 2015 nominees included Cape Henlopen State Park’s new Gordons Pond Trail & Junction & Breakwater Trail Extension, Clear Space Theatre Company, Christian and Jamin Hudson of Hudson Management, Junction & Breakwater Trail, Lewes Dragon Boat Festival, SoDel Concepts, Sports at the Beach and Tim Bamforth of Seashore Striders Event Production Inc.
“All of this year’s nominees are very deserving of the award, as they provide wonderful experiences for our visitors and help make Sussex County, Del., such a special place. And we are grateful to the Atlantic Sands for doing a wonderful job hosting this event,” said Thomas.
Past recipients of the Southern Delaware Tourism Award include the Apple Scrapple Festival, Dogfish Head Brewery Tours, the Rehoboth Beach Film Festival, the Lewes Maritime History Trail, the Ocean to Bay Bike Tour, Nassau Valley Vineyards, the Freeman Stage at Bayside and Eating Rehoboth Walking Food Tours.
For more information about Southern Delaware Tourism, call (302) 856-1818, or visit www.VisitSouthernDelaware.com.