[caption id="attachment_230584" align="aligncenter" width="1200"] The Starboard, the mainstay bar and restaurant in Dewey Beach, is set to open a new pizzeria and seafood restaurant this year. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
DEWEY BEACH — The Starboard owner Steve “Monty” Montgomery is adding yet another venture to his restaurant group, and this one is in a familiar location: the neighboring former Mama Celeste's Pizzeria.“We are taking the pizza shop next door over. Papa Celeste decided to retire, so we are going to keep it in-house,” Montgomery told the Delaware Business Times. “[We may] bring Mama Celeste back herself, as an employee, because she’d love to keep seeing the fun folks of Dewey, and they want to see her.”
[caption id="attachment_230585" align="alignright" width="300"] Local favorite Mama Celeste's Pizzeria is set to become Starboard Sauced, but the matriarch may still be involved. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
The storefront was bought by Starboard Land Company in 2000 for $400,000 and leased out to Mama Celeste for years.Mama Celeste was opened by Harry "Papa" Leontitsis and Celeste "Mama" Gutt after nearly a quarter of a century of serving pizza to tourists and Delaware beach residents. The couple first worked at a downtown Wilmington steak shop before opening up Three Stars Pizza in New Castle in 1989.After 10 years, the couple moved to Delaware’s beaches and opened in Dewey Beach – first at 1818 Coastal Highway, and then right next door to The Starboard in 2000.Montgomery plans on promoting two long-term employees into ownership to run the venue, Starboard Sauced, but plans on keeping true to the pizzeria concept, with a few additions.“We’ll change up a few recipes and add in a great selection of subs and sandwiches,” he said. “We’re also doing a full refurbishing of the space currently. It will have an all new look, we plan on terrific pies and subs, and our Starboard staff will work on this project and give it the love necessary to make it yet another unique great spot in Dewey Beach.”A targeted opening is set for this May.Montgomery is an established restaurateur in his own right, as he first started working at the now-known Starboard in Dewey Beach as a doorman and a bar-back at 18 years old. When the Herns family was ready to sell the venue in 1999, Montgomery turned to colleagues, like Jim Weisgerber, from his “weekend” job at a Washington, D.C., bar.Four years after taking over The Starboard, Montgomery and Weisgerber and other partners opened Bethany Blues in Bethany Beach, with a second location in Lewes in 2009.
[caption id="attachment_230583" align="alignleft" width="300"] Starboard Raw is among of the restaurant group's current Dewey Beach concepts. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS[/caption]
Today, the restaurant empire includes five restaurants, including 99 Sea Level in Bethany Beach and Starboard Raw. However, that will soon continue to grow with the Starboard Claw at, coincidentally, what was Mama Celeste’s first location. That restaurant will have a menu featuring hard-shell crabs, ribs, and famous roast chicken from the former Ed’s in Dewey Beach. Montgomery is optimistic that Starboard Raw will be open before Memorial Day, if not immediately after.“We’re moving right along, and are pushing to have it ready to go by the end of this month. We’re not sure on an opening date yet as we need to get the place ‘restaurant-ready' after months of construction,” he said.Finally, Bethany Blues is opening its third location in downtown Rehoboth Beach at the former Nicola Pizza at 8 N. First St. Montgomery and his partners signed a lease with the Trahos family who bought the property a few years ago.“Yes, we feel we’re insane at the moment,” Montgomery joked. “While we had not planned on doing all these places at the same time, this one came to us and we felt it was the perfect location for another Bethany Blues venue, offering great carry out for all of downtown Rehoboth.”