From Two Seas to Espuma, it all comes down to family
I just about brought the internet to its knees trying to find a website for Two Seas restaurant in Dewey Beach. I clicked myself into a frenzy, but got nowhere. My only other option was to call. How barbaric!
Emily Carr answered and patiently endured my whining about their lack of a website. When she’d finally had enough, she cackled, “Honey, we just got rid of our rotary-dial phone three months ago! And now you want a website?" At that moment I knew this place was going to be interesting.
Blink and you'll miss it. Except for a tall, skinny sign, Two Seas looks like any big condo on Coastal Highway. But this multi-level eatery has been owned and operated by the same Dewey Beach family for well over 30 years.
During the mid-‘70s, Ben Carr, an Annapolis architect, bought a lot at the corner of Route 1 and a sandy trail called Van Dyke Avenue. And on that lot he built a sandwich shop. In order to ensure that everyone knew exactly what he was up to, he cleverly named it “The Sandwich Shop.”
His wife Emily handcrafted cute uniforms for the kids and they kept the place busy for three years. Their daughter Jill, now the dining room manager, remembers asking her dad what was inside the walls of the building. She would soon find out.
Going by dad’s blueprints, every member of the Carr family - Emily, Jill, Pam, Wendy and Brent (who sadly passed away at 20 years old) - pitched in to construct the present-day Two Seas, literally from the ground up. The funny stories are too numerous to mention, but suffice it to say that mom and the kids learned on the job how to dig foundations, pour concrete, set rebar and frame, frame and frame some more.
Other than Wendy’s beautiful paintings that grace the walls, the most unforgettable feature of the restaurant is, in fact, the reason for its name. Climb the stairs to the rooftop deck, and there before you is a breathtaking view of both Rehoboth Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Two Seas.
This was their first real restaurant, mind you, and Emily says that it was “like people coming to our home.” And no wonder! Linger at the bar and you’ll be amazed how many people she calls by name as they enter. The Carrs’ enthusiasm for their guests - and for one another - is obvious.
Their favorite people include much of their help, many of whom return year after year. The Carrs get attached to them, not the least of whom is Head Chef Russell Koon. “He fits in perfectly with our family,” says mom, and Jill and Pam immediately burst out laughing. I just know there’s more to that story, and the close connection between Russell and the family becomes clear. Mom shushes the girls, worried that this guy from the Cape Gazette might get the wrong idea. What I did get is how much fun it is to spend time with these delightful people. See for yourself. Go. Tell Emily that that guy from the Gazette sentcha. But don’t try to find them online.
As I write this, I realize that it was almost exactly a year ago that young Darrin Beachy, longtime bartender at Rehoboth’s Espuma restaurant, passed away suddenly. The staff was devastated. Well, restaurants aren’t all that different from theater and, indeed, “the show must go on.” Mixologist David Engel, a Rehoboth legend in his own right, stepped in to fill the void. (Though he’ll be the first to say that he never truly could.)
This morning Engel emailed me on his way to an informal gathering at Espuma to commemorate Darrin’s life. “He was such a good person, and I miss him,” he wrote. “I can’t believe it’s been a year.”
Truly good restaurants demand long hours and devotion. And with that comes affection. In Dewey it’s the Carr family, laughing and teasing their way through more than 30 summer seasons. Over on First Street, it’s Jay Caputo, David Engel and everyone at Espuma pausing for just a moment on a hectic Saturday to remember a beloved coworker and friend. Life goes on.