The sun was out, the live music was playing, and all hands were on deck when one of the area’s most unique venues held its official grand opening near Bethany Beach last Thursday.
“We wanted to build something that we thought would fit into the community, something that really matches the nature of this area,” said Brent Poffenberger, co-owner of Bethany’s newest watering hole, Bethany Boathouse.
The latest venture from Poffenberger and Tom Neville — who also own the Cottage Café, located across from Boathouse on the west side of Route 1 — the family-friendly restaurant and bar was designed to resemble a historic lifesaving station, and features both an indoor bar and the outdoor Gazebo Bar, in addition to both outdoor and indoor seating.
“People have been looking for something like this in the area, waiting for it,” said Boathouse General Manger Rich Beaney. “This is gonna be a destination.”
“Everyone who I’ve talked to has said that this is exactly what Bethany needed,” added Poffenberger. “We’re not trying to be Dewey Beach. We’re not trying to be Ocean City. We’re trying to just bring a little bit more excitement to Bethany Beach and do it in a classy, fun way.”
But the excitement and fun doesn’t come solely by way of the nautically-themed atmosphere, including the water view from the pond and fountain out front — and it isn’t just for the adults. either. Not only will Boathouse feature live music every day, but it also offers an area for kids to enjoy, complete with a pirate ship and sandpit.
“It’s very family-oriented,” Poffenberger said. “We expect a lot of people will come off the beach. We have a kids’ play area. Your kids can be entertained while you’re listening to music. We provide a fun atmosphere.”
While they’re enjoying the entertainment and views, customers can also enjoy a full bar, featuring both domestic and local craft selections on tap, wines from Cupcake and 10 Span, an assortment of fresh fruit crushes, custom frozen concoctions — including the Bethany Beach Cool’ada, with coconut rum, pineapple and mango — and house specialties, such as the Boathouse Bloody Mary and Sunrise Mimosa.
Whether it’s light fare, lunch or dinner, there’s just as much to choose from on the menu —including beach favorites such as steamed shrimp, crab claws, clam strips, mussels and crab-artichoke dip, venturing into fresh-from-the-garden salads, custom burgers and sandwiches, and an array of tacos and entrée platters.
“Our ribs are slow-cooked and out-off-this-world, as is our fried chicken,” said Beaney. “It couldn’t be any better. Anybody that orders it just raves about it.”
Despite being just a stone’s throw from the Cottage Café, Poffenberger and Neville’s new establishment stands on its own. In fact, the only similarities, aside from the same award-winning crabcake, is their commitment to hospitality.
“The only thing that I would say is similar is our commitment to hospitality and guests,” Poffenberger said, comparing the two restaurants. “We’re trying to provide the most friendly staff and just a great time — that’s the atmosphere we’re trying to create.”
“Our staff is energetic and excited about doing that. We’re real fortunate,” added Beaney. “We were real happy with the people that we brought in. Everybody’s attitude is over-the-top. Guest relations come first — that’s our No. 1 concern.”
That “over-the-top” excitement from the staff and commitment to ensuring that patrons are having a good time has led to the positive feedback that the Boathouse has received not only at the official opening party, but since opening its doors on May 28.
“It’s been very strong right out of the gate,” said Beaney of the response so far. “From the first people we had come in, the response has been very positive.”
“We look at this as an amenity to the area,” Poffenberger added. “It worked out better than we could have imagined.”
Bethany Boathouse is located at 39817 Hickman Plaza Road in Bethany Beach. The restaurant and bar are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, from noon to 1 a.m. For more information, visit the website at www.bethanyboathouse.com or call (302) 616-2593. For a schedule of upcoming live music performances, visit www.facebook.com/bethanyboathouse.