On the two short but intense blocks of Rehoboth Beach's Wilmington Avenue ending at the boardwalk, there are about 25 restaurants (including the corners). No zoning, either: everything from expensive European (Espuma) to the terminally greasy (Gus & Gus) sits equably shoulder to shoulder. There's only one empty building, the former La-La Land, and since it's a pair of purple-painted Victorian cottages it looks just as good closed as open.
We only try one or two new places each summer, because the favorites are excellent just the way they are. But 2011's new entries, Planet X Cafe and Dogfish Head brewpub, were right up there too, which leaves us no open slots to fill next year. An embarrassment of riches!
The beer sign above has set the tone for Zogg's Raw Bar & Grill for years, as has Jimmy the multi-tasking musician, who says it's rare and goes for over $100 on e-Bay. He's the cultural memory for his summer home (weeknights except for Friday) at 1 Wilmington.
After a 13-year career as a travel agent (that was a great job back in the day), he has earned a living in music, at venues from Carnival Cruise Lines to Zogg's to his winter gig on Sanibel Island, Florida. He has an RV and, it looks like, no worries.
Jimmy looks more than a little like Ernest Hemingway and sings gentle songs while playing guitar, ukelele, and a steel pan hand-made by a Trinidadian friend (who for some reason lives in Pittsburgh). You wouldn't guess he was also a symphony trumpet player, but he says he's five years out of that and the politics will probably keep him away for good. I wonder if he still keeps his tuxedo -- just in case.
Zogg's has an inside which we've never seen because the long outdoor space between two buildings, with palm trees, bamboo and the fiberglass shark in a tropical shirt is just right. Like Cheers, they know your name and when you come in you head for your regular table and Jimmy ribs you a little. The hostess told us the owners researched around Key West and a number of Caribbean islands to get the look and feel right when they opened the place 11 years ago. I guess there are those who don't feel it, but there's always Bob Evans... To each beach bum, his own.