Matteo's saying 'hola' to Fenwick Island


Since 2000, Matteo’s Salsa Loco has been a staple for authentic Hispanic cuisine and prize-winning cocktails in Bethany Beach. But, as of this May, they’re heading south toward the border – the state border, that is – to Fenwick Island, where a larger establishment and greater proximity to Ocean City, Md., could draw in the crowd that owner Matt “Matteo” Griffin has always dreamt of.

Coastal Point: Matteo’s owner Matt Griffin will be moving his restaurant to Lighthouse Plaza in Fenwick Island by early May.Coastal Point
Matteo’s owner Matt Griffin will be moving his restaurant to Lighthouse Plaza in Fenwick Island by early May.

Prior to his success in Bethany, Griffin was a part of Ocean City’s restaurant scene, so getting back down to that area is an inviting thought, noted Paige Steen, who has been a part of the Matteo’s staff for four and a half years.

“We’re all very excited about the move,” she said. “Everything seemed to align for us, and we were basically given an offer we couldn’t turn down. It was something that we had considered doing within the next three years anyway, but everything just came together.”

Patrons of Matteo’s have grown accustomed to the menu, fresh salsa, homemade hot sauce collection and drinks – all of which will be offered at the Fenwick location. But Matteo’s will now be located in Lighthouse Plaza – near Lighthouse Liquors – by early May, just in time for Cino de Mayo.

The new building will nearly double the size of the establishment Matteo’s has worked out of for the last 10 years and will include a 20-seat bar – more than doubling the space customers experienced in Bethany.

“It will be nice to be close to Ocean City again,” noted Griffin. “We’ll offer a lot more space – a bigger dining area, a bigger bar, a bigger kitchen. We’ve had a lot of people who enjoyed stopping in but lived just out of range to stop in as often as they wanted. Now, they can come up and see us. There’s not a whole lot between [south Fenwick Island] and Montego Bay [in Ocean City], so this should be a good spot.”

To kick off the move, Mateo’s will hold a “Closing Fiesta” this weekend at their Bethany Beach restaurant, situated just east of the totem pole, on Friday, Feb. 19, and Saturday, Feb. 20, from noon until 10 p.m. Customers can sign up for a number of give-a-ways and can enjoy discounted drink and menu prices, as well as stock up on some of their Matteo’s favorites.

“We’re going to be selling our T-shirts for $10,” said Steen, “and since they say Bethany Beach on them, they’re really like limited editions.”

The assortment of hot sauces, which have become popular with customers, will be sold at discounted prices, too. Bottles, originally sold at $6 apiece, will be available for purchase at $4 each or three for $10.

“It’s a great way to stock up now and get yourself through the winter until we open back up in May,” said Steen. “Everything has to be sold, so bring a friend and come on in. The more we can get rid of, the less there is for us to clean up.”

While the larger digs will eventually yield more jobs at the restaurant, Steen assured loyal customers that they will still be able to enjoy the atmosphere with the friendly faces they have grown to know.

“All the people currently working with us are an integral part of, not only the restaurant, but the move, too,” she said. “They all went above and beyond what we’ve asked of them, and it has really gotten everyone enthusiastic about heading to Fenwick.”

Soothing acoustic acts, such as the original melodies of Isabel – who has been featured at Matteo’s over the past six years – will eventually work their way into the Fenwick Island location, too.

Another advantage for Griffin and his business is added parking space – a limitation that the Bethany Beach location has suffered from in the past.

“There’s more parking,” said Steen, “and cabs are also a lot more accessible. Customers can even come up from Ocean City or get back down there by taking the bus. We’re hoping that helps with our customer numbers.”

And, even then, Matteo’s won’t quit Bethany for good. Griffin is already looking to return with a second location in 2011.

“We’ve picked up a really good clientele in Bethany,” he noted. “The town has been great to us, and we would like to be back within a year or two at another location, so we can be there for those faithful customers.”

Matteo’s in Fenwick will also continue to boast their well-known “Tres-a-rita,” which just this year was named the second best margarita in the country. The Sunday Bloody Mary bar will also be available.

For more information about Matteo’s Salsa Loco, including details about this weekend’s Closing Fiesta, check out Matteo’s on Facebook, or call (302) 541-4911. After closing on the evening of Feb. 20, Matteo’s plans have a soft opening in Fenwick’s Lighthouse Plaza near the first of May, with a grand-opening on May 5.