Do what you love - the money will follow
One of the great things about small-town dining is the familiar faces that are always there to greet us. Denizens of downtown drinkeries can’t help but recognize the famously leopard-spotted David Engel, now practicing his craft at Hari Cameron’s a(MUSE.). Other local notables include surfer-turned-mixologist Matt Sprenkle at Shorebreak Lodge, longtime 1776 Steakhouse barkeep Johnny Farquar, and of course “Martini Tom” Garvey, now shakin’, stirrin’ and pourin’ at Hooked Seafood & Martini Bar.
The soon-to-be-history Cloud 9 was a spawning ground for a number of our longtime servers and bartenders, including martini maven Chad Awkland, sports nut Geno Harris (now at Dos Locos), Seafood Shack’s Steph DaLee and Dewey Beach chef Tommy Long. I am quite aware that this list is by no means comprehensive, so please resist the urge to send me a prickly email. I get enough of those already.
Another Cloud 9 alumnus who can now be found waiting tables (or pouring a mean cocktail) at Pig & Fish Restaurant Company is none other than the terminally effervescent Chipper Beach. And yes, that is his name. His grandfather was Charlie, his dad was Chuck, so grandma dubbed him Chipper. The Beach part - well, that was just luck.
The Easton, Md.-born server has been pleasing guests at Pig & Fish on Rehoboth Avenue since they opened six years ago. He admired the business philosophies of original co-owner and chef Mike Stiglitz (now presiding over his Two Stones Pubs in Newark and North Wilmington), Mike’s wife Denise (still a partner) and hands-on managing partners Lisa and Doug Frampton.
Before he dedicated himself to The Business of Eating, Chipper worked as a veterinary technician at a Baltimore animal hospital until he was 24, assisting with surgical procedures and healing beloved pets. “People can be stressed and sometimes difficult when it comes to their pets’ health,” explains Beach. “It was there that I learned how to deal directly with people and to help them remain calm.” (Not all that different from waiting tables in a resort.)
Those of you who hung out on Charles Street in Baltimore might remember Chipper as the longtime waiter and manager at Gampy’s (before it changed hands and withered) and at Mt. Vernon Stable and Saloon. After moving to Rehoboth, he worked at several high-profile Rehoboth eateries, most notably Sydney’s Blues & Jazz Restaurant (located where the back dining room of Pig & Fish is now) and of course the storied Cloud 9.
When his parents began to discern a pattern in his course of employment, his mother asked, “Are you going to be a waiter for the rest of your life?” Without hesitation, he responded in the affirmative. “I’m never happier than when I’m helping people to have a good dining experience.” And that positive attitude is contagious. In fact, when P&F’s sister restaurant, Pickled Pig Pub, opened on the highway near Starbucks and Pier One Imports, the owners asked Beach to help encourage the new employees to, in his words, “have a good time at work.” Wise words. Life’s too short to hate what you do.
Charles E. Beach III (oops … Chipper) works year-round at Pig & Fish. He is very much aware that eating is entirely subjective, i.e., what tastes great to me might not taste good to you. Armed with that philosophy, he does everything he can to make things right when the inevitable occurs, turning potential unpleasantness into a win/win for both the waiter and the restaurant. Wouldn’t it be nice if all servers and bartenders felt that way?