The Wizards of Food include one talented Brit
Pay no attention to the man - or woman - behind the curtain! To the average vacationer, Rehoboth Beach is an exuberant Oz, where ribbons of umbrellas flutter in the sand, taffy-chewin’ tourists stroll the Boardwalk, and restaurants somehow appear (and disappear) with no apparent consequence. What they don’t see are the talented entrepreneurs behind the scenes, many of whom gambled their livelihoods to bring excitement to this tiny town long before it was what it is today.
So who are these Rehoboth wizards pulling levers and flicking switches behind the curtain? Any list would certainly include Dominick Pulieri (Grotto Pizza); Joyce Felton, Victor Pisapia, Keith Fitzgerald, Leo Medisch and Marilyn Spitz (Blue Moon and Back Porch); Chip Hearn (Country Squire, Starboard, Peppers); Gus Svolis (Gus & Gus’ Place); Louie, Tim and Tony Gouvas (Louie’s Pizza); Kevin Reading (Espuma, Nage); Matt Haley (Lupo di Mare, Betty’s and five more); Joan and Nick Caggiano (Nicola Pizza); Sydney Arzt (American Pie, Side Street, Sydney’s); Susan Townley Wood (Cultured Pearl); Yolanda Pineda (Mariachi); Rob Stitt (the original Eden, Shorebreak Lodge); Joe Zuber and Darryl Ciarlante (Dos Locos) … there are so many more, but paper is paper, and I’m allowed only so much of it.
This gastronomic hall of fame also includes London-born Alison Blyth. Armed with her degree from the London College of Fashion, the last thing on that 19-year-old’s mind was dropping cod filets into a fryer. For three years she managed a hair salon in Bermuda, dreaming of a career in theatrical makeup. Around 1980, she moved to Washington, D.C. to cut hair at a salon on Capitol Hill that was adjacent to the quirky (and long gone) Two Quail restaurant. It was there that she met Houston Vaughan.
One of the partners at Two Quail owned Astral Plane, a tiny eatery in a tiny town called Rehoboth Beach. Who wouldn’t want to work near the ocean? And Alison did just that, until Sydney Arzt moved Side Street Café out of 22 Wilmington Ave. and morphed Astral Plane into her celebrated Cajun-flavored blues club.
The potential of 22 Wilmington was not lost on Houston, Alison and her roommate Vinci Panzella. A pair of windowed buildings encircled a cozy courtyard and garden, bounded to the south by a free-standing kitchen. Blyth imported Robert Carney from his garde manger position at Washington, D.C.’s posh Shoreham Hotel, and they were off and running. The kitchen was relocated to the west building, and the courtyard structure became the La La Land bar (where leopard-spotted mixologist David Engel held court nightly). It was barely 10 weeks before they were voted Best Restaurant in Delaware.
The partners sold La La Land in ’94. Connections were made, ideas were hatched, dollars were spent, and Alison eventually partnered up with Steve Webster (Coffee Mill) to turn Savannah’s at 39 Wilmington into a pan-Asian bistro called Yum Yum.
In the winter of 2002, replete with her year-old son, Alison and a former coworker at Astral Plane purchased 24 Rehoboth Ave., converting Joe’s Italian Ice into the British-accented fish ‘n’ chip carryout, Go Fish!
Late 2002 saw the demise of Yum Yum, and on July 4th, 2003, Go Fish! became a full-service restaurant. Alison was finally home.
Business has increased every year - so much so that a national franchise company is working to bring her crispy concept to a broader audience. The concept? Go Brit!
The menu mirrors that of Go Fish!, and the casual counter service can be easily duplicated anywhere.
What promises to be the first of many Go Brit! restaurants will soon be opening in Coastal Plaza, across from Bethany Blues in Lewes.
Alison Blyth’s flier exclaims, “More British are coming!” but the truth of the matter is that this particular Brit has been working tirelessly right here in Rehoboth for many years. She’s certainly earned whatever success lies ahead.