WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — The Big Fish Restaurant Group, which owns a chain of seafood eateries in Delaware and Pennsylvania, has purchased the Wilmington restaurants the Washington Street Ale House and Mikimotos Asian Grill and Sushi Bar as well as Stingray Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach.
Eric Sugrue, a co-founder and co-creator of the Big Fish Group which runs the Big Fish Grill restaurants, has been finalizing plans for the past few weeks.
This past Thursday, he confirmed the purchase of the eateries which had been owned by the late Wilmington resident Darius Mansoory.
Sugrue said he settled with Mansoory's estate last week. He said the names of the eateries will stay the same, but he plans on updating the three concepts and doing some general renovations at the sites. The restaurants will remain open during the work.
The Big Fish Restaurant Group already runs three Wilmington restaurants, Bella Coast Italian Kitchen & Market on Concord Pike, Trolley Square Oyster House on Delaware Avenue and the Big Fish Grill on the Wilmington Riverfront.
The Group also is involved with plans for a seven-story, 122-room hotel and banquet hall attached to the existing 275-seat Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront
The joint project involves the Pennsylvania-based property developer Onix Group and is expected to cost $23 million. Sugrue said he hoped to begin construction by late summer and open next year.
The Big Fish Restaurant Group started with the flagship Big Fish Grill in Rehoboth, and later expanded with other eateries in the resort town including the Big Fish Seafood Market, the Summerhouse Saloon, Salt Air and the Crab House. There's a Big Fish Grill as well in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania.
Mansoory had operated restaurants for two decades. The 52-year-old died suddenly of cardiac arrest on Dec. 31, 2016, in a hospital while on vacation in Cuba with his girlfriend. Mansoory, who grew up in Centreville, fell ill while at a hotel he was staying shortly before the couple was scheduled to leave and catch a plane home.
At the time of his death, it was unknown who would run the restaurants operating under the Cherry Tree Hospitality Group that Mansoory founded. His closest surviving relatives included his mother Janet Mansoory and father Dr. Amir Mansoory.
The Washington Street House marked its 20th year in business this month. Shortly before his death, Mansoory told The News Journal he had big plans for the popular restaurant and his other operations.
"I'm just now getting back into work full time and have my plate full fine-tuning Mikimotos and the Ale House," he wrote in a text message sent in October 216.
Mansoory said he planned to reopen Presto!, a cafe next door to the Ale House, which he shuttered in 2014.
"June 4, 2017, will be the 20-year anniversary of the Ale House, and I definitely will have Presto! open and everything else running razor sharp as we celebrate that milestone," he told The News Journal.
Mansoory began his career in the hospitality industry in 1997 when he bought the former Knuckleheads bar on Washington Street and transformed it, through several renovations, into the Washington Street Ale House.
Later, he opened Mikimotos Asian Grill & Sushi, named after the Japanese pearls, in 2000 just as U.S. diners began developing a surging interest in Japanese cuisine. The eatery, next door to the Ale House, became one of the city's most popular restaurants
Stingray Sushi Bar + Asian Latino Grill on Lake Avenue in Rehoboth followed in 2008.
David Dietz, owner of the BBC Tavern in Greenville and a close friend of Mansoory, told The News Journal in January he was confident Mansoory's restaurants will continue to operate and thrive.
"His family wants to see his legacy continue. I think Darius has a lot of excellent people at his establishments already in place and I feel they are highly competent and they will ensure his legacy lives on through the opening of the restaurants," Dietz said.
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