For more than a decade and a half, Jonathan Spivak brought exceptional American cuisine to Bethany Beach with his standout restaurant, Sedona. Now, he’s passing the award-winning eatery off to his long-time general manager, Marian Parrott. And, as Sedona’s seasonal reopening quickly approaches, Parrott is putting the finishing touches on its new face, to make the dining experience truly unique, while still capturing the essence it has established years ago.
“I’m looking forward to bringing Sedona back for our customers again this year,” said Parrott, who has held the position of general manager at the restaurant for the past 14 years. “The change in most of the restaurant is not really dramatic, since I have been running it for so long,” she said, as she walked through the soon-to-be-finished revamped dining area. “Jonathan has done an incredible job establishing this place.”
Multiple times, Sedona has been named the best restaurant in the Bethany Beach/Fenwick Island area by Delaware Today magazine.
“The restaurant was already up there,” noted Spivak, “and I believe it’s going to only go up. Marian [Parrott] is the best suited individual to maintain Sedona as the best restaurant in lower Delaware. She’s the ideal person to take over the business, and it’s not going to miss a beat. People have been coming here for 15 years, and they associate her with Sedona.”
Much of the restaurant’s enhancements are in the kitchen, an area that most customers will not see directly, but which will still, in essence, contribute to their experience.
The restaurant’s back-of-house saw aesthetic improvements, with a new, state-of-the-art, impervious floor, some pristine equipment, refurbished electrical and plumbing systems, washable walls and a new chief, head chef Larry Strowles, whose time working with Spivak goes back to Fusion, a Rehoboth restaurant that Spivak once operated.
Strowles started his culinary career by training under a French chef in one of Chicago’s oldest, most established restaurants. After completing culinary school in Florida, Stowles opened a restaurant in Florida with his brother before cooking at a bed-and-breakfast in Paris, Va.
Following his two-year stint at Fusion, Stowles was the head chef at Striper Bites in Lewes for seven years.
“My background is more of this type of cooking,” he said of Sedona. “Striper Bites was a good job and we did a lot of great things there, but I want to get back into running a dinner-only menu and work with some kicked-up food.”
With plenty of experience and a unique taste for perfection, Strowles hopes to bring some novel features to Sedona.
“The menu itself is still going to be American cuisine,” he assured, “and we’ll be working basically with the same products.”
One of the first distinctions patrons will discover is the addition of tapas, or miniature dishes, to the menu. Derived from Spanish cultures, tapas are increasingly popular fare in restaurants, especially in the United States and United Kingdom. Rather than ordering a large entrée, customers can try a variety of smaller courses, combined to satisfy the palate.
“They have a lot of these in the cities now, with these tapas items,” said Parrott. “You can eat anything. Customers can go into places and have small portions of anything they want, from filet mignon to pork chops or seafood, and not fill up on any one thing. It really allows people to try a variety of food without having to pay the high-end price for an entire meal.”
Prices for tapas plates can start from $6 to $8 and run up to about $14.
“I’m very excited about working with tapas,” said Strowles. “I haven’t before, but I’ve eaten a lot of them. The opportunity for somebody to come in and get three different plates of different kinds of food, instead of one, is a great concept. I think people will enjoy coming in, sitting at the bar and sampling some different tapas with a glass or two of wine, rather than sitting down and having a heavy meal.”
And if regular diners think they already have Sedona’s wine selection down pat, they should think again. Parrott plans to bring in some additions to the list.
“I’d like to eventually do some more special featuring and pairing with the wines, too,” she said.
Prior to Memorial Day, the restaurant will be open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, beginning May 8, and with another new concept on Sundays: brunch. Doors will be open between 9 a.m. and noon on Sundays to cater to a morning crowd.
Memorial Day will kick off Sedona’s full-week schedule, and it will run through Labor Day, with restricted seasonal hours to follow.
“We would like to stay open through New Year’s week, too,” Parrott noted.
Employment in the restaurant’s dining area will stay largely constant, with familiar faces serving meals to customers. And for those who like to stop in for traditional favorites, don’t worry; those well-liked menu items will be back.
“We will still have our popular dishes, like the ahi tuna, great pork chops and crabcakes, as always,” said Parrott. “We just wanted to make sure we brought in some new things, too, which ought to be a good touch.”
Parrott and Strowles plan to appeal to everyone who comes to town, not just the high-end patrons.
“Basically,” he stated, “the menu will be a little more in the price range of a lot of the customers. We want to accommodate more than the high-end clientele and people coming in on a special occasion.”
With the public’s growing awareness of the environment, Parrott hopes to incorporate those ideas into Sedona, too.
“I want to keep the environment in mind,” she said.
The Styrofoam to-go boxes seen in many dining establishments have been replaced with those produced from recycled, crushed sugar-cane leaves, making them completely biodegradable. She is also ordering a number of their products through Saratoga, a self-sustained, American company that utilizes wind power to aid in production.
Parrott is also putting emphasis on organic wine and food products, as well. Strowles hopes to incorporate tableside cooking at the restaurant before long, too.
After working as a stock broker for eight years, Parrott entered the restaurant business with her husband, George, who owned The Garden in Ocean City.
“I really enjoy the restaurant scene,” she said. “I’ve been here long enough, too, that I’ve connected with a lot of the customers. I think they will be pleased to come back and still see me here.”
Now, as the owner of the restaurant, Parrott is pleased to be able to fully tailor the restaurant experience in every way.
“I think we have a clientele that’s used to coming in here,” she said, “The general feedback I’ve been getting has been good, and as long as we don’t shock them too much with changes, we should be fine.”
Due to limited seating, reservations are encouraged at Sedona. For more information, including available catering options, or to make a reservation, call (302) 539-1200.