From today’s Craft Beer Daily email newsletter:
REHOBOTH BEACH BOARD SHOOTS DOWN DOGFISH’S PLAN FOR NEW RESTAURANT
What local darlings? Dogfish Head Brewing is “stunned and disappointed” with the denial of their plans to build a new larger restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. It was the brewer’s intent to tear down their current 8,280-square-foot restaurant and build a new 9,820-square-foot on the same site (nearly doubling the size allowed by the zoning code). Consequently, Rehoboth Beach Board of Adjustment shot down their plans on a 3-1 vote. Dogfish looks to appeal the case to Delaware Superior Court, per Cape Gazette.
Nick Benz, CEO of Dogfish Head, believed they had “met the full criteria for variance, especially given the fact that [they’re] already over 5,000 square feet.”
The brewer was forced to get a variance because the current building “predates the zoning code” and therefore “is a legal nonconforming property.” If a nonconforming property in Rehoboth Beach makes adjustments to its floor plan it is required to get a variance.
Dogfish felt it necessary to update and expand the restaurant in order to be competitive. Nick views the “old building” as an “eyesore.” Adding, “it’s not just the skin, it’s the bones that have become dated. It’s time.” He knows they “can do better.”
At the Board meeting, some members contended Dogfish’s plans to be selfish and a money grab. Board member Chuck Donahue said their “only motive in seeking the variance is to expand its profit.” While another member, Clif Hilderley, asked, “You want to expand downtown where it is already crowded?” and proposed they “look outside of town.”
After the meeting, Nick said, “We certainly decline to take the advice of one member of the board who suggested we simply move out of town rather than build a great brewpub building on Rehoboth Avenue. We think his real opposition was architectural and design in nature, looking for something more traditional versus Dogfish off-centered.”
Chairman Thomas Evans was the only one who sided with the brewer asserting that Dogfish is “a good business” and their proposed floor plan isn’t much bigger than their current one.
The board claims they do not “establish precedent,” but “a number of restaurants larger than 5,000 square feet have come before the board in the last five years and received variances.” Dogfish and another restaurant are the only ones that have been denied over the past five years. The other restaurant subsequently “filed a lawsuit and won its right to build a new patio.”
I find this stunning, given what I, and I assume most people, perceive as the great benefit Dogfish Head has been, not only to Rehoboth Beach but all of Lower Delaware as a major employer, tourist attraction and news-making entity. Also, somebody said “No” to Sam Calagione. I have to think that’s a word he’s not heard in a long time, if ever.