Hustling to Keep the Dream Alive
The Joe We Know
IVE AT C RE NT
A Record Year for Vinyl Shops
Why No Referendums?
FEBRUARY 2021 COMPLIMENTARY
IN S N O I T A V I NNO
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2 INSIDE 2
Out & About Magazine Vol. 33 | No. 12
Published each month by TSN Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Contact@TSNPub.com Wilmington, DE 19801
Publisher Gerald duPhily • firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Publications Jim Hunter Miller • email@example.com
Contributing Editor Bob Yearick • firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director & Production Manager Matthew Loeb, Catalyst Visuals, LLC Digital Services Director Michael O’Brian Contributing Designer Allanna Peck, Catalyst Visuals, LLC,
7 From the Publisher
30 A Record Year
9 War on Words
34 Olivia Rubini
11 FYI 13 Learn 15 Why No Referendums?
FOCUS 17 Variations of Valentine’s Day
Contributing Writers Danielle Bouchat-Friedman Adriana Camacho-Church, Cindy Cavett, David Ferguson, Mark Fields, Pam George, Lauren Golt, Jordan Howell, Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald, Dillon McLaughlin, Ken Mammarella, Matt Morrissette, John Murray, Larry Nagengast, Kevin Noonan, Leeann Wallett
21 The Challenge of Take-Out
15 No Statewide Referendum
Why these don’t happen in Delaware
By Bob Yearick
17 Variations on Valentine’s Day
39 Victory Brewing
Area restaurants taking creative approach
EAT 26 Sweet Somethings
42 In The City
21 The Challenge of Take-Out Restaurateurs face multiple hurdles in adjusting to this new trend
44 On The Riverfront
By Pam George
On the cover: Lee Slaninko and his Sweet Somethings crew baked a cake especially for this month’s cover — appetizing and photogenic. Photo by Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography
26 Quality Approach Sweet Somethings serves up two decades of delectable desserts By Leeann Wallett
Contributing Photographers Jim Coarse, Justin Heyes and Joe del Tufo/Moonloop Photography, Butch Comegys, Lindsay duPhily, Matthew Loeb, Matt Urban Special Projects Bev Zimmermann
By Pam George
30 A Record Year Local vinyl shops weathering pandemic with perseverance and ingenuity By Matt Morrissette
35 Hustling How two minor league baseball players are keeping the dream alive
Printed on recycled paper.
Editorial & advertising info: 302.655.6483 • Fax 302.654.0569 outandaboutnow.com • email@example.com
By Bob Yearick
FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
I AM DESIGN I AM
David Sanchez Spaceboy Clothing
All new inWilmDE.com coming this month.
From The Publisher
PUTTING OUT THE FIRE
so much wanted to focus this month’s column on the sweet ideas inside. And I wholeheartedly encourage you to read Pam George’s piece on the creative ways area restaurants are offering to help celebrate Valentine’s Day. Ditto for her piece on the dizzying number of pivots restaurants are making to survive the flight to take-out. Another worthwhile distraction is Matt Morrissette’s look at local record shops. How is that business model holding up through COVID-19? For dessert, be sure to dig into Leeann Wallett’s profile of Lee Slaninko and his Sweet Somethings bakery. Appetizing reading, for sure. Hopefully, this month’s content will distract you for a few hours. If so, Out & About has provided a valuable service. But I suspect more distressing thoughts are on your mind. I know they are on mine. What took place during the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol was so jarring it overshadowed a PANDEMIC. And I cannot believe I just typed the previous sentence. In fact, there is much that has happened during the past four years that I cannot believe. Laws I never expected would be broken; norms I never imagined would be ignored. Make America Great? Are you kidding me? Unless you’re an anarchist, how can you even feel “pretty good" right now? Ah, but I must calm down. We all must calm down. Levelheadedness is at a premium right now. It will not be easy to have a real conversation with people who operate in an alternative reality. But we have no choice. Shocked but not surprised. It’s a reaction to the attack on the Capitol I’ve heard repeatedly. In other words, many felt something bad was coming. How could you not?
The seeds of the conspiracy strategy were planted way back with the accusation that Obama wasn’t a citizen. The call to arms came with cries of a “stolen election.” It was a Machiavellian manipulation of people experiencing real fear. Fear of becoming more marginalized — by education, technology, demographics… Just give them someone to blame — a conspiracy that provides an easy explanation for their anxiety. Trump despicably obliged. With countless accomplices. Oh, what a wicked plot. Trump said and did all the things those clinging to white privilege could not do publicly. In exchange, he got what he most craves: plaudits and power. But now he’s gone — from the Oval Office, at least. And we must go on. While millions are still angry…and afraid. Oh, and with a pandemic still raging. If this were a movie script, it would be rejected for being too unrealistic. So, up steps Delaware’s Joe Biden. Into a set of circumstances that may be more challenging than those faced by any U.S. president. And at the ripe old age of 78, he appears ready for the challenge. I feel he just may be. Why? Because more than anything right now, the country needs two things: empathy and compassionate action. Biden has a history of exhibiting both. Do something to help people — all people. Show them government feels their pain. Provide them tangible relief. We can debate size of government, tax cuts, the Supreme Court… down the road. I hope. During the presidential debates, Democratic candidate Andrew Yang coined a phrase that has remained with me: “If your house is on fire, you don’t worry about the cost of water.” Well, our house is on fire. And beyond marginalizing the cost of water, everybody needs to see a firetruck pulling up to their house. — Jerry duPhily
If this were a movie script, it would be rejected for being too unrealistic.
FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
A writer/editor’s slightly snarky and relentless crusade to eliminate grammatical gaffes from our everyday communications
Compiled from the popular column in Out & About Magazine
THE WAR ON WORDS A monthly column in which we attempt, however futilely, to defend the English language against misuse and abuse
THE WAR CONTEST Our January contest was tough. No one got a perfect score, but Luann Haney came the closest, so she wins a $50 gift card. Larry Kerchner was second and Charlene McGrady was third. Both will receive a $25 gift card. Here are the answers. Incorrect words or phrases are crossed out, and, where appropriate, correct words are inserted in italics. 1. Letter in The Wilmington News Journal to Delawareans from Joe Biden: “We believe in respecting one another — because we know we’ll run into each other at the grocery store or church or little league (Little League is capped) game . . . although I am a proud Democrat, I promise you, I will be an American President, and work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me, [no comma] as those who did.” 2. An NFL official: “The previous play is under further review.” Further is redundant. 3. WDEL anchor Peter MacArthur: “Police are looking for whomever (whoever) pulled the trigger.” Whoever: subject of the clause “whoever pulled the trigger.” 4. Jim Gray, writing about Muhammed Ali in Sports Illustrated: “He would never again do another television interview.” Again is redundant. 5. Savannah Behrmann in USA TODAY: “Neither Gore nor Republican nominee George W. Bush were (was) considered the president-elect.” 6. NBC Today co-host Hoda Kotb: “Al [Roker] was in rare form as usual.” If it’s rare, it’s not usual. 7. A commentator on ESPN: “Patrick Mahomes is a singularly unique talent.” There are no degrees of unique. 8. Post on McDaniel/Concord Manor Civic Association Facebook page: “The amount (number) of deer running out onto Naamans Road is out of control.” 9. Online ad for a gadget: “This Multi Opener has a durable and comfortable grip and opens six different types of seals and lids with ease.” Different is redundant. 10. Spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health: “We all know how important wearing masks are (is).” Subject of the sentence is the singular “wearing,” not “masks.” 11. Ad for Corropolese Bakery: “It takes us back to a kindler (kinder), gentler time.” “Kindler” is not a word.
By Bob Yearick
12.Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY, about wide receiver Antonio Brown: “The NFL launched an investigation, which remains ongoing, to look into the matter.” Delete redundant phrase and move ongoing to make it: “The NFL launched an ongoing investigation into the matter.” 13. Host on WIP-FM: “That was the overprevailing theme of the game.” Redundant. 14. From the Brandywine Zoo newsletter:“Mark is an avid (a) tennis enthusiast.” Enthusiasts are always avid. 15. CNN personality Chris Cuomo: “He was hoisted on (hoist with) his own petard.” The phrase, from Hamlet, refers to a bomb-maker being blown up (“hoist” off the ground) by his own bomb (a petard), and indicates an ironic reversal, or poetic justice. 16. Dan Patrick on his eponymous radio show: “He text (texted) me last night.” 17. Mayor of McAdoo, Pa., speaking of Joe Biden: “My constituents here along with me fear that him (he) and his administration will be quick to strip that freedom (Second Amendment rights) away from the American people.” 18. Associated Press story about Trump supporters:“In Phoenix, some have showed (shown) up at the State (state) Capitol with guns.” 19. BBC weatherman: “Within hours (a comma is preferred here) a storm with maximum wind velocities in excess of (exceeding) a hundred (100) miles an hour swept across southern England and Wales.” 20. A Republican strategist: “In fact, there’s a track record of him (his) being able to do that with McConnell.” 21.Mark Medina, USA TODAY: “Davis has become so dominant as of late . . .” “As” is acceptable (by some), but unnecessary. 22. Radio commentator about the injury to defensive lineman Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns: “His loss cannot be overstated enough.” 23. MSNBC reporter: “Together, t(T)his research team is collaborating on parsing out the data.” Teams should always “collaborate together.” Parsing means “dividing anything into the smallest components and analyzing them,” so “out” is redundant. 24. CBS 3 Philly online headline: “Pet Project: Is Your Dog Trying To Prove Its (It’s) More Dominate (Dominant) Than You?” 25. “You cannot flout the law like that.” Correct.
Follow me on Twitter: @thewaronwords
Word of the Month
apostate Pronounced a-POS-tate, it's a noun meaning a person who renounces a religious or political belief or principle.
NEED A SPEAKER FOR YOUR ORGANIZATION? Contact me for a fun presentation on grammar: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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F.Y.I. Things worth knowing
DIVISION OF THE ARTS ANNOUNCES 2021 ARTIST FELLOWSHIP WINNERS
wenty-five Delaware artists are being recognized by the Delaware Division of the Arts for the high quality of their artwork. Work samples from 121 Delaware choreographers, composers, musicians, writers, folk and visual artists were judged by a panel of out-of-state arts professionals. Awards were given in three categories: $10,000 for the Masters Award, $6,000 for the Established Professional Award, and $3,000 for the Emerging Professional Award. Fellows are required to offer at least one exhibit or performance during the upcoming year, providing an opportunity for the public to experience their work. Additionally, the work of the Fellows will be featured in a group exhibition, Award Winners XXI, at the Biggs Museum in Dover tentatively set for June 4 through July 25, 2021. Jennifer Margaret Barker was the lone recipient of the Masters Fellowship, receiving it in the Music Composition category. Barker’s compositions have been performed on six continents by orchestras, chamber and choral ensembles and international artists. Winners of the Established Professional Awards were: Fostina Dixon, Howard Eberle, Knicoma Frederick, Mara Gorman, Eliezer Gutman, Harold Kalmus, Kim Klabe, Jack Knight, Cassandra Lewis, Jame McCray, Terry Miller, Jane C. Miller, Richard Raw and Eric Zippe. For a complete list of 2021 Fellowship winners visit Arts.Delaware.gov
WINNERS OF MLK VOICE 4 YOUTH’S FIRST VIRTUAL COMPETITION
THE SOLD FIRM PRESENTS UNIQUE SOLO EXHIBITION
ore than 24 schools and organizations participated in last month’s first virtual MLK Voice 4 Youth competition in which youngsters creatively shared through livestreaming how Dr Martin Luther King's legacy guides their response to today’s challenges. In addition to the U.S., members of the virtual audience included viewers from Canada and India. A $2,000 first-place prize was awarded to Neha Das of Charter School of Wilmington (grade 12). The $1,000 second-place prize went to Adith Thyagarajan of Charter School of Wilmington (grade 12). The $500 third-place prize was awarded to Rishima Mall of Charter School of Wilmington (grade 11). Other finalists were Deena Johnson (Milford High School, grade 12), Desere Ndikum (Newark Charter, grade 12), Jamel Powell (Powell Academy Homeschooling, grade 9) and Sanchez Raymond (Cape Henlopen High, grade 12). To produce the event, volunteers were challenged to bring multiple social media platforms together. Judges used both Zoom and Tabroom.com to view and score contestants. Contestants presented through Zoom, and members of the virtual audience tuned in to watch via Vimeo, Facebook, and YouTube.
NEW DELAWARE DISCOVERIES TRAIL ARTWORK UNVEILING IN WILMINGTON
TORM is a 45-minute solo exhibition featuring the artwork of painter Sakana Walls, a current inmate at a Delaware correctional facility. The exhibition opens Feb. 19 and will be on display through Apr. 24 at The Sold Firm (800-B N. Tatnall St., Wilm.). “We must conquer self-doubt in order to weather our own personal storm; then we’ll be able to learn, understand and respect one another,” reads an artistic statement by Walls, who will be present on video from the correctional facility as guests view the exhibit. Walls, 46, was incarcerated in 2006 and began drawing in 2010 before taking up painting in 2016. He is a current member of the Delaware Prison Art Program and was a member of the Philadelphia Art Mural Program from 2018-20. Reservations are required to view STORM. Visit TheSoldFirm.com.
OPPORTUNITIES AT THE DELAWARE CONTEMPORARY
he Delaware Contemporary on Wilmington’s Riverfront is encouraging artists of all stages to apply to its current artist opportunities that explore cutting-edge art-making practices, relevant cultural issues, and topical contemporary art trends. Upcoming exhibition opportunities include Natural Movement: Unapologetic Conversations of Hair and Nonconformity (deadline Feb. 15), Summer 2021 Exhibition (deadline Feb. 15) and 2021 Artists-In-Residence (deadline Feb. 15). Visit DeContemporary.org
he Delaware Discoveries Trail has added its 10th and newest mural, this one located at the Chase Center on Wilmington’s Riverfront. The art-focused trail, featuring original, interactive outdoor art exclusive to Delaware, was launched in September 2020 by Delaware’s Tourism Office with the goal of creating Instagram-worthy moments with interactive street art painted by local artists. The Discoveries Trail also hopes to bring attention to notable destinations found throughout the state. Designed and painted by Terrance Vann, the latest mural is a celebration of recent historic moments with Delaware-centric balloons adorning the Chase Center, the location of President-Elect Joe Biden’s acceptance speech in November. The installment is the second Discoveries Trail location at the Riverfront as another of its murals can also be found at the nearby Delaware Children’s Museum. Visitors to the Discovery Trail locations are encouraged to submit a photo via their Instagram feeds to #DelawareDiscoveries for a chance to win a prize. Visit Terrance Vann with his interactive mural. DelawareDiscoveries.com FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
NO SHOWROOM VISIT NEEDED AT CARMAN
GRANT PROGRAM HOPES TO BOOST FUNDRAISING EFFORTS OF ARTS GROUPS
he Carman Auto Group has announced a new online shopping program, where the customer never has to leave home or office. Available at Carman’s Ford and Lincoln dealerships in New Castle County, Carman Express offers customers the ability to accomplish the entire car-buying process online. It’s a simple three-step process, says Joe Giacchino, sales manager and a member of the family-owned business. Step one includes vehicle selection, trade-in valuation, application of rebates/ incentives, and financing terms. Step two is an online application with an instant lender decision. Step three is the selection of protection plans followed by the delivery of the vehicle to your home or business. The entire buying process can be completed by cell phone or computer. Visit CarmanAutoGroup.com
he Delaware Division of the Arts will be offering state arts organizations a significant financial boost through Delaware's largest day of giving, Do More 24 Delaware, on March 4-5. This year, the Division will provide up to $425,000 in matching funds to its FY2021 arts organization grantees in conjunction with the statewide giving day event. The Division's “stretch pool” funds will be awarded to grantees who fundraise through the domore24delaware.org website over the 24hour fundraising period. Do More 24 Delaware is organized by United Way of Delaware and Spur Impact Association. Division funds will be allocated to its participating grantees in proportion to the donations they raise through the DoMore24
Delaware campaign, including bonuses for organizations with the highest number of donors. Donations will allow organizations to develop new delivery mechanisms, prepare for re-opening their facilities, and resume live production and presentation schedules as COVID restrictions are relaxed. “We expect that this ‘stretch pool’ incentive will boost arts organizations’ fundraising efforts as well as encourage individuals to donate to their favorite arts organizations,” said Paul Weagraff, director of the Delaware Division of the Arts. “This opportunity benefits arts organizations at a time when COVID restrictions have severely reduced the earned revenues necessary to cover ongoing overhead expenses.”
KeepDelawareBeautiful.com 12 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
LEARN At both the bachelor’s and master’s level, WilmU’s teacher preparation degree programs satisfy the Delaware DOE’s content knowledge requirements and can establish students’ eligibility for licensure and certification as educators in Delaware’s public schools, pending the successful completion of state-mandated performance assessment testing and application for credentials. Plus, all teacher preparation students enjoy the factors that have long made WilmU the choice of working adults: an affordable education, flexible schedules, and experienced faculty, all available right where they are. On any given school day, WilmU sees about 1,000 of its teacher candidates learning on the job in classrooms throughout the region. This fieldwork includes an immersive Year-Long Residency program, the only course of its kind in Delaware and one of only a handful nationwide, through which student teachers spend an entire school year working alongside mentor teachers in select partner schools.
WilmU’s College of Education Delivers Excellence to Delaware’s Schools
or 10 of the last 13 years, the Delaware Department of Education’s (DOE) Teacher of the Year has been a graduate of Wilmington University. It’s not hard to see why. “One reason is that we provide so many of the teachers to Delaware’s classrooms!” remarks Alfred DiEmedio, director of teacher preparation programs in WilmU’s College of Education. Indeed, more than 3,500 of the state’s K-12 teachers earned education degrees from Wilmington University. What’s more, about half of Delaware’s principals and assistant principals have also studied at WilmU. It’s a wise choice. The National Center on Teacher Quality rates Wilmington University’s teacher prep programs among the top three percent in the nation. “The quality of the instructors and the leadership from the school has been top-notch,” says Wendy Turner, Delaware’s 2017 Teacher of the Year and a 2010 graduate of WilmU’s Master of Education in Elementary Studies program.
Graduates of the College of Education’s licensure programs have totaled up a 100% success rate in earning their teaching licenses and, once employed, they’re rated by their principals and supervisors as uniquely prepared to design and deliver effective learning experiences to diverse student populations. WilmU also offers master’s degrees and graduate certificates that focus on specialized areas of education, including counseling, reading, teaching English to speakers of other languages, educational technology, and teaching gifted and talented students. “I’d been in teaching for about 15 years when I decided to go back and get my master’s,” says Lea Wainwright, who studied Applied Technology in Education at WilmU four years before she was named 2014 Teacher of the Year. “I needed to be smarter about technology if I wanted my students to be smarter about the world. Why Wilmington University? Because the scheduling is so flexible for teachers. They totally get teachers.” Sandra Hall, 2016’s Teacher of the Year, earned her master’s in Elementary Studies in 2007. “WilmU works for me because it changed my life,” she says. “I was able to raise my family, work, and go to school. The seven-week blocks allowed me to graduate in a timely manner without overloading my coursework.” “We have shown that we can help people who want to be teachers to achieve their goals, regardless of their backgrounds or career paths,” says Dr. John Gray, dean of the College of Education. “That’s our true mission, and why we’re so committed to it.” For more information about WilmU’s College of Education and its teacher preparation programs, visit wilmu.edu/Education.
for tomorrow’s teachers. Find out more through a webinar: wilmu.edu/VisitUs Next classes start March 8! XX FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
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14 JANUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
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NO STATEWIDE REFERENDUM Except for school taxes, Delawareans rarely get a direct voice in new legislation By Bob Yearick
n the November elections, New Jersey voters approved an amendment to the state constitution legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 and older. In Florida, the electorate passed a gradual minimum-wage increase from the current $8.56-an-hour to $15 by 2026. Many political observers agree that both of these initiatives would be popular with Delaware voters. But if recreational weed is to become legal in the First State, and if the minimum wage is to increase above the current $9.25, it will be the General Assembly, not the voters, who will make those changes. That’s because, in the words of the Initiative and Referendum Institute: “Delaware allows less popular participation in lawmaking than any other state. Delaware . . . is the only state in the nation that does not require popular approval of constitutional amendments.” Changing the State Constitution, which was amended in 1897, to allow for statewide referendums is an arduous process. Explains Dr. Samuel L. Hoff, professor emeritus of history and political science at Delaware State University: “Our amendment process requires the vote of two-thirds of both chambers in two successive sessions of the legislature, without any popular participation in the procedure.” Over the past 60 years, at least two state legislators have led attempts to introduce initiative and referendum reform, but both failed. In the 1960s and ‘70s, House Majority Leader John P. Ferguson, D-Churchmans Road, sponsored Initiative and
Referendum (I&A) bills in nearly every session. He finally got it to a vote, and it was approved on the first ballot by the House and Senate. But in the required second session, the House voted it down, 22 to 6, on March 29, 1979. Sen. David McBride, D-Hawks Nest, then took up the cause. McBride, who spent 40 years in the General Assembly, was defeated in last year’s primary by newcomer Marie Pinkney. Beginning in 1997, and for many years thereafter, McBride proposed legislation to amend the state constitution to allow for I&A. “It didn’t even have a hearing,” says John Flaherty, long-time Delaware political observer. “It was sent to Executive Committee, and it died there. It never came to a vote.” Finally, McBride says, “I gave up; I didn’t want to waste any more trees.” (Appropriately, he turned his attention to environmental legislation.) The reason his proposals failed, says McBride, is because “the Legislature didn’t want to give up their right to do things.” Flaherty is more candid: “These guys don’t like to be secondguessed. They like to control public policy in Delaware. They want you to go to them. If something is going to be done, they want to be the ones to introduce it and get credit for it.” As McBride points out, however, Delaware does hold referendums on school taxes. And these special elections have become more numerous as school districts search for muchneeded funding. ► FEBRUARY 2021
NO STATEWIDE REFERENDUM
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16 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
The Christina School District, for continued from previous page instance, took four referendums to voters from 2015 to 2019. Two were rejected in 2015, which led to laying off 78 teachers and 14 aides. A third referendum passed in 2016, which restored the cuts. A 2019 proposal that would have resulted in an average per-household tax increase of $220 per year was defeated. Even this power is in danger of being taken out of voters’ hands. Some legislators believe the right to raise taxes should be with school boards. In 2017, a bill that would have allowed districts to increase taxes every two years was introduced, but it never made it to a vote. There have been other efforts to put initiatives on the ballot. In 1980 the police and firefighters unions collected enough signatures to put an initiative on the ballot in Wilmington, only to be told that there was no longer an initiative procedure. The legislature had quietly passed a municipal charter law in 1965 that contained no I&R provision, and this law, state courts ruled, superseded the law that had given I&R to Wilmington in 1907. Referendums can backfire, say some politicians. Rep. John Kowalko, D-Newark, says that, as a populist, he believes “the voice of the people should be amplified.” But, he adds, implementing statewide referendums “would require a very serious dialogue on how they would be implemented and what effect they would have.” He cites California, a state that regularly asks its residents to vote on a variety of laws, resulting in what Kowalko characterizes as “some pretty crappy decisions.” In 2008, for instance, Proposition 8 repealed the state’s same-sex marriage law, years before the Supreme Court made such marriages constitutional on a national level. And in 2003, California’s first-ever gubernatorial recall election was held, and Gray Davis became the second governor in U.S. history to be recalled (the first was North Dakota’s Lynn Frazier, in 1921). Cassandra Marshall, chair of the Wilmington Democratic City Committee, also offers a cautionary note. While there is some value in what she calls “direct democracy,” she says: “I would be leery of [Delaware] basically becoming California, which has become the wild west.” Referendums, she says, often serve as an opportunity for “special interests to spend a ton of money to get their issues passed.” “These are not issues that voters are going to get themselves educated about,” she says. “[For instance], in California, somewhere in the last two election cycles, there were referenda about how certain types of medical facilities are run.” Those proposals passed, she says, “and these special interests have gotten permission to do things that maybe the legislature wouldn’t let them do [before the referendum passed].” She says she would be open to “direct democracy,” but adds: “The way to do it is focus on the voters, and it has to be developed with some high bars, so it’s not easy for special interests to spend a ton of money on it. Then leave it to the legislature to make it work.” Sen. Laura Sturgeon, D-Pike Creek, Hockessin, Greenville, also has reservations regarding ballot initiatives, and points out that voters already have a strong voice in what legislation is implemented in Delaware. “Our representative democracy was set up so that every two, four, or six years we cast our votes for people we trust to use their judgment and expertise to make decisions for the common good,” Sturgeon says. “If these people fail us, we can vote for new representation. Ballot initiatives circumvent that process.”
Valentine’s Day Area restaurants get creative for this year’s celebration with in dine-in, carryout or grab-and-go options By Pam George
his year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Sunday. But that’s not the only thing that’s affecting Cupid’s aim. Pandemic-related restrictions have changed the way many of us approach mid-winter celebrations. Fortunately, food and wine are the way to any romantic’s heart, and in Delaware, there are plenty of options—whether you want to eat in a restaurant or at home. And you don’t need to cook!
Indulge in a Morning Delight
Binge on a Prix Fixe
Those who start their Feb. 14 festivities early — and with a hearty appetite — can pick up the Brunch Box from Eggspectation in Stanton. The impressive collection includes six pancakes, six French toast pieces, 12 scrambled eggs with cheese, 12 pieces of bacon, sausage or ham, two pounds of Lyonnaise style potatoes. The price is $39. It all goes great with a Bloody Mary. Feel like going out? Pizza By Elizabeths in Greenville plans to hold a jazz brunch with $5 mimosas and specialty quiche pizzas — owner Betsy Leroy’s favorite. If you want to stay in, think ahead and purchase Jacquet’s heart-shaped waffles at Janssen’s Market in Greenville. There are 10 ready-to-eat waffles in a pack. (The market also sells heart-shaped cheeses.)
Multicourse meals are a must on Valentine’s Day, and each year, Janssen’s Market creates a prix-fixe menu with options. The 2021 menu includes a starter, shared salad course, entrée and after-dinner sweets. For the main event, consider lobster mac-and-cheese, bacon-wrapped filet, brown sugarglazed tomahawk pork chop, citrus-glazed grilled seabass or Florentine ravioli in a creamy pesto sauce. The price is $79.95 a couple or $49.95 per person. On Feb. 15, the Stone Balloon in Newark is closing its doors to the general public for a reservation-only event. Diners will receive a three-course meal with options for each course. The price is $50 for two or $65 with a bottle of wine from a select list. (You can get the meal to go, but you must order in advance.) ► FEBRUARY 2021
VARIATION ON VALENTINE'S DAY continued from previous page
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Branzino is one of the featured entrees at Le Cavalier. Photo courtesy Le Cavalier
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Caffé Gelato, also in Newark, has a dine-in or takeout menu with seven courses and multiple add-ons. The meal, priced at $69 per person, will also include wine or Champagne, a red rose and tealights. Oysters Rockefeller, sea salt-seared lamb lollipops, pan-seared champagne day-boat diver scallops and pan-roasted filet or lobster tail. For an additional $10, you can order a full bottle of bubbly or wine. Add an extra $29 for a dozen roses. Reidel glassware is available for another $29, and if you want a private dining experience — including a meal in a glass greenhouse — add $10 per person. The specials are offered Feb. 11-15. Ciro on Wilmington’s Riverfront will feature a fourcourse gourmet meal — along with an amuse and dessert. The mouthwatering menu includes pan-seared scallops with a butternut-squash-black-truffle-grapefruit beurre blanc, coconut-curry-poached lobster, crisp pork belly with bacontomato jam and pan-seared filet. The cost is $135 per person. Le Cavalier in the Hotel du Pont has created a prixfixe for Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. (The regular brunch service is available on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) Priced at $65 per person, the three-course menu has an impressive number of choices in each category, including duck a l’orange, scallops with blood orange sabayon and prime “bavette” steak au poivre. If your idea of a gastronomic delight involves fingerlicking, down-home fare, head to Limestone BBQ and Bourbon in Stanton for the Philthy Feast. For $59.99, you’ll get a pound of brisket, a half-pound of pulled pork, two chicken quarters, a half-rack of St. Louie-style ribs, two hot Italian sausages and a choice of five sides. In addition to offering its full menu for Valentine’s weekend, Cromwell’s American Tavern & Taqueria will be offering a prix-fiixe pecial available for dine-in Friday through Sunday 4 p.m. to 8 p.m, or via pick-up or delivery by ordering through their website: Cromwellstavern.com. At $30 per person guests can choose between two appetizers options, two entrees — pan-seared blackened salmon topped with arbol pepper and grilled pineapple salsa or braised short rib with chile rojo salsa and onion— and one dessert. Guests dining in or picking up can also order wine ($22-$28) or pure margaritas for $9.50.
Quiche pizza will be featured at Pizza by Elizabeths. Photo courtesy Pizza By Elizabeths
Grab & Go
Many of the prix-fixe specials are also available to go. Le Cavalier, however, has a special carryout menu from its Maison x Le Cav division. The $120 meal, which feeds two, will include beets with goat cheese and dill, a shrimp cocktail with harissa sauce, the steak au poivre or a cauliflower steak au poivre and white chocolate mousse. Order 24 hours in advance and pick up from 5-7 p.m. on Valentine’s Day weekend. The newly opened Park Café in Wilmington’s Wawaset Park neighborhood has created a four-course to-go dinner for two. Sophisticated selections include brie-and-pear rangoon with pistachio-pear glaze, spinach-and-pancetta salad, and flounder stuffed with crab imperial, rendered duck breaks or a 12-ounce Delmonico. The price is $125, and orders must be placed by Feb. 10. At HoneyBee Seasonal Kitchen & Market in Trolley Square, to-go is a specialty. On Friday, Feb. 12, and Saturday, Feb. 13, you can buy two of Chef Lisa Scolaro’s prepared entrees, and you’ll get a special dessert for two for free. Toscana To Go in Trolley Square is also an old pro when it comes to takeout. This year, the shop—which is adjacent to Piccolina Toscana — has a three-course dinner for two for $130. Customers can choose two options from each category. Entrée offerings include linguine with lobster, a six-ounce filet and lamb chops. For $30 extra, add an Italian sparkling wine, and for $20, order a charcuterie board for two. Order by Feb. 11.
Get in the Spirit
Valentine’s Day gives chefs a license to add some fun elements. For instance, V&M Bistro in North Wilmington will feature heart-shaped ravioli with a vodka blush sauce or shrimp alfredo with linguine that’s infused with sundried tomatoes to make it red. The third option is a dish that hits the menu only for special occasions. Gemelli (short, spiral pasta) is topped with Genovese sauce, a mix of onions and beef that simmers until merged. All items are carryout only, and this year V&M will be open on a Sunday for the occasion. ►
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VARIATION ON VALENTINE'S DAY continued from previous page
Don’t Forget Dessert
Caffe Gelato in Newark is offering a private dining experience in a glass greenhouse. Photo by Jim Coarse
20 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
You’ll also find some scrumptious togo confections at V&M, including boozy ice creams from the bistro’s “Barlour” line. For Valentine’s Day, the restaurant will sell red velvet with Bailey’s Irish Cream and CBD-infused cherry vanilla with a touch of bourbon. (Scoop responsibly.) Other treats include The Lovers, a pack of heart-shaped cocoa bombs, cakesicles, cocoa-sicles and the Hugs & Kisses combo of sweet treats. Hot chocolate bombs and similar confections are all the rage, and Gotta Love Gelata, a food truck business that’s moved into bricks-and-mortar digs on Philadelphia Pike, plans to feature mini heart-shaped chocolate bombs that encase gelato and homemade marshmallows. (Don’t be surprised if some have a boozy element.) The Food Bank’s Delaware Food Works culinary team will be selling chocolate-covered strawberries and four-inch, heart-shaped message sugar cookies for Valentine’s Day. Preorder your treats FBD.org/valentines.
of Take Out Area restaurants face multiple hurdles in adjusting to new trend By Pam George
Salmon entree to go at Caffé Gelato. Photo by Jim Coarse
ou would expect to find jumbo lump crab cakes at Banks’ Seafood Kitchen & Raw Bar, an upscale Wilmington Riverfront restaurant. Turkey meatballs in marinara sauce, however, might raise eyebrows. But those two dishes — along with fried chicken thighs — are on the new Banks’ Kitchen Commissary menu, which features fully cooked items to reheat at home. The program, which debuted the week before Christmas, also features sides, soups, desserts — even spice mixes. ► FEBRUARY 2021
THE CHALLENGE OF TAKE OUT continued from previous page
Owner David Leo Banks has been considering the idea for some time. The pandemic pushed it to the forefront. “You can replace ‘going out’ with professional restaurant food,” he says. “You pick it up at the restaurant, take it home, pull it out of the oven and put it on your china — and it’s pretty damn close to what I would do for you.” Thanks to COVID-19, takeout has taken a turn. Restrictions on restaurant dining have forced restaurants like Banks’ Seafood Kitchen to reevaluate their programs — or create one. When Le Cavalier opened in the Hotel du Pont last year, takeout was a priority from the start. Pre-pandemic, it would have been offered but not promoted. For a full-service restaurant accustomed to table service, executing takeout can be challenging. Fine dining, which revolves around creating an experience, can lose its luster in a plastic box. It costs money to do it right, and in some cases, restaurants take a loss. “We had to completely pivot our whole takeout operation,” says Carl Georigi, whose Platinum Dining Group has six New Castle County eateries. “Before it was a second thought. Now it gets equal billing.” From the culinary icons in New York and California to Delaware’s independent restaurants, “everybody is trying to figure out how to do takeout and do it well,” says Ryan German, owner of Caffé Gelato in Newark.
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For Delaware restaurants, the world shifted on March 16, 2020, when Gov. John Carney closed dining rooms to flatten the coronavirus curve. The next day, establishments could offer takeout and delivery. On June 1, restaurants reopened at a limited capacity — initially 30%; Gov. Carney upped the limit to 60%. When cases spiked in autumn, the capacity fell back to 30%. The reduced capacity — and the hesitancy on some diners’ part to eat in a dining room — prompted restaurateurs to emphasize takeout. Admittedly, some eateries had an advantage. Kid Shelleen’s Charcoal House already had a brisk takeout business thanks to the abundance of Trolley Square-area residents. “We were set up for it,” says co-owner Xavier Teixido. “We had protocols in place.” For instance, the restaurant was on the Menufy online ordering platform.
Because Caffé Gelato had a stable takeout business and a thriving catering operation, the Main Street restaurant had the bandwidth to ramp up carryout operations. Piccolina Toscana, meanwhile, had been offering prepared foods and carryout since 1992 from Toscana To Go. “People thought of us for takeout long before the pandemic,” says owner Dan Butler. “We didn’t have to ‘pivot’ to it.” The shop initially had a different menu and staff. In 2010, Toscana To Go moved next door to the restaurant, and Butler took down a wall and enlarged the kitchen to combine them. Butler has increased the amount of prepared and retail items. “We don’t do eggs and carrots,” he says, “but we do have interesting sauces, spreads, crackers — things you want for your party.” Groceries, however, were available at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant, which opened a “Craft Market” with fresh produce, dairy products, meats, toilet paper and paper towels. “All of these offerings allow us to keep people employed, help guests who are unable to or may not be comfortable with going to the grocery store, and the people who regularly deliver food to our restaurants,” Iron Hill CEO Kim Boerema explained in April. Caffé Gelato in Newark still sells grocery items in its Marketplace. There isn’t as much demand for them as there was in spring, but the service still generates about 20 orders a week. Harry’s Savoy Grill in North Wilmington offers frozen seafood and ready-to-cook meats with complementary sauces. Portioned fish — frozen at the peak of freshness — is also available at Banks’ Seafood.
Iron Hill Restaurant and Brewery is offering an array of ready-to-heat meals. Photo courtesy Iron Hill
RESTAURANT QUALITY — IN A CONTAINER
In spring, many restaurants streamlined their menus to offer takeout-friendly dishes and accommodate a reduction in kitchen staff. “We probably made our menus up to 30% smaller,” says Gianmarco Martuscelli, owner of Klondike Kate’s, La Casa Pasta and the Chesapeake Inn. “We cross-utilize more.” Admittedly, some concepts fare better than others. “Mexican and Italian travel well, reheat well and keep well until the next day,” says Georigi, who has three Italian and one Mexican restaurant. That isn’t necessarily the case at Eclipse, his flagship bistro in Wilmington’s Little Italy section. “The food is best eaten in the restaurant,” Georigi agrees. Similarly, steak is something that usually does not travel well. But customers are still ordering it from Redfire Grill Steakhouse in Hockessin, another Platinum Dining restaurant. Items like steak stay on the menu because customers expect them. It doesn’t matter if the dish is designed for a plate. “Not only will it not look the same, but it won’t eat the same, especially if you eat it right out of the container,” Banks notes. ► FEBRUARY 2021
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THE CHALLENGE OF TAKE OUT continued from previous page
Restaurant employees may attempt to guide the customer. For instance, if you want a Redfire steak cooked medium-well steak and plan to reheat it at home, order it rare or medium-rare. Or, they politely inform the customer ordering nachos that she might get a few flaccid chips. To make sure customers know what they are ordering, Vincenza Carrieri-Russo handles the phones at V&M Bistro in Brandywine Hundred.
V&M Bistro, which is known for veal entrees, has kept its dining room closed and pushed pizza, the family’s legacy product. (The Carrieri-Russos once had a pizza place in the Christiana Mall food court.) It might seem counterintuitive for an upscale Italian eatery to push tomato pie, but V&M’s pivot to Sicilian pizza has landed it in newspapers and Facebook pages. Perhaps no takeout item has become as ubiquitous as the family meal, which gives pandemic-weary parents a welcome break from cooking. The meal might not fit a restaurant’s original concept. Corner Bistro in Talleyville, which has a French flair, has been selling family-sized lasagna, chicken piccata and chicken parmesan. On Tuesday, for instance, Bardea customers can order a whole heritage chicken with Szechuan, lavender and honey-soy au jus. The $75 meal includes bread and a hummus appetizer with black lime and za’atar. Depending on the dish, the meals can be more affordable than if you bought all the ingredients on your own to make them, notes German of Caffé Gelato. German, who installed greenhouses for outdoor dining, has left few stones unturned in the quest to adapt to the pandemic. The restaurant sells home meals, which are available for delivery. For instance, on Mondays, you might order chicken caprese with a garden salad and mini cannoli. The price is $25 for two. Now German wants to put $39 high-end items, such as a rack of lamb or halibut, in the mix. Savvy restaurants have become adept at promoting these offerings. Martuscelli, for example, uses his mobile ordering app to send out 20% discount codes for the following week. He’s partnered with area Catholic schools to deliver meals to parents picking up kids on a Wednesday. As the
parents formed a carpool line, the sisters relayed the customers' preorders to the restaurant staff, who brought out the food, he says. All of this takes energy that is in short supply these days, Teixido says. “Restaurants are understaffed and under-resourced.”
THE COST OF TAKEOUT
Customers might think a restaurant saves money on takeout orders. Nothing could be further from the truth. While customers can order bottles of wine and cocktails to go, they aren’t making an impulse decision, such as opting for an after-dinner drink. Restaurants, therefore, are missing revenue opportunities. The accouterments aren’t cheap. A bag alone might cost $5, German says. Cutlery with a napkin is another $1. Good packaging is also costly, and the prices are going up. In spring, Harry’s Savoy Grill’s takeout containers were better suited to leftovers. “It was
ALL OF YOUR FAVORITES
ONLINE! Caffé Gelato has tried to diversify its offerings as much as possible, providing take-home ingredients, prepared meals as well as on-premise dining. Photo by Jim Coarse
horrible,” says owner Teixido. “We weren’t ready. But we found suitable containers for to-go.” Biodegradable packaging, usually made with bamboo, has a higher price tag. “It’s good for the planet, but it’s not so good for profitability,” Georigi notes. The takeout trend makes the argument over plastic straws small in comparison. Credit-card processors take a fee, and third-party delivery services snatch up to 30 percent of the order. “It’s a serious number,” Georigi says. “The restaurant is forced to either pass the fee onto the guest — which really isn’t fair — or absorb the cost.” Between the staff, the packaging, credit card fees and the food price, no restaurant can make money relying on the vendors, says German. When the restaurant gets busy, it switches off the thirdparty apps. His staff will also deliver. So why use third-party apps at all? German does not want to risk losing customers. Regardless of how a restaurant boosts its takeout business, it risks losing the sparkle that made it special. “We are an experiential restaurant,” Teixido says of Harry’s Savoy. “You come here for us to make you feel important, right? And we pamper you. You expect everything to be on point. We lose control when we start putting complex food in a box.” Owners like Banks realize that you need to meet the customers’ comfort level, and that may not include table reservations. “I’d rather be doing it the old-fashioned way,” he agrees, “but that’s not in the cards right now.”
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E AT Sweet Somethings pastry chef Victoria Jeker having fun with her latest creation. Photo by Joe del Tufo
Quality Approach From home-baked to Union Street, Sweet Somethings serves up two decades of delectable desserts By Leeann Wallett
weet Somethings owner Lee Slaninko built the business like he builds his cakes —using high-quality ingredients, a dash of resilience and a pinch of nostalgia. Slaninko’s dessert shop on Union Street in Wilmington has produced some of the area’s best cakes, pies, cupcakes and other sweet treats for more than two decades. What began as a home-based business evolved into a tasty stop along North Union Street’s “restaurant row.” ►
a diner eats at my restaurant is a dessert from Sweet Somethings, I know they’ve left happy.”
QUALITY APPROACH continued from previous page
Slaninko and his ex-wife, Pamela Slaninko, who met in the mid-90s while attending the Culinary Institute of America, began selling desserts out of their home in Kennett Square, Pa. After a successful run selling to friends and family, Lee and Sweet Beginnings Pamela convinced the owners of Iron Hill Brewery to use their Slaninko founded Sweet Somethings on its ability to prepare desserts at their Newark location. moist, flavorful and quality products at affordable prices, and not Though Sweet Somethings to sell the latest dessert “fad.” and Iron Hill cut ties in He also wanted to avoid what 2013, many other Delaware happened in the 1980s, when restaurants such as Culinaria, baking distributors began Cantwell’s Tavern and Two selling cakes to bakeries (rather Stones Pub, have added Sweet than many bakeries creating Somethings’ desserts to their cakes in-house). menus. Those cakes didn’t taste Mike Stiglitz, owner and good, and is the motivation director of operations for Slaninko uses to avoid the Two Stones Pub and 2SP comment he fears most: “This Brewing Company, has known isn’t as good as it used to be.” Slaninko since 2003 when Maintaining quality keeps they both worked for Iron Hill Slaninko using premium Brewery. A few years later, ingredients such as vanilla when Stiglitz opened his own extract and Philadelphia brand business, it was “a no-brainer” Lee Slaninko with two key members of his Sweet Somethings team: Victoria Jeker (left) cream cheese even though he and Ashley Drew. Photo by Joe del Tufo to purchase desserts from goes through a gallon of extract Sweet Somethings. every two weeks (costs $250“I can’t source desserts as high-quality and affordably priced 300 a gallon compared to $40 for imitation extract) and because as those from Sweet Somethings,” says Stiglitz. “If the last thing the alternative cream cheese brand just “isn’t as creamy.” ►
QUALITY APPROACH continued from previous page
COVID wasn’t the only challenge Sweet Somethings had From the start, Slaninko to endure in 2020. After a string of business and management built his business on his fondest difficulties (Slaninko calls them “Mike Tyson punches”), childhood memory: the neighborhood bakery. As a child, including the death of the shop’s beloved glass dessert Slaninko remembers visiting his local bakery, which showcase, Slaninko had to figure out how to navigate and was filled with bright showcases, wood-panel walls and sustain the business through one of its most difficult periods. desserts of all kinds, especially cakes. “We were growing rapidly Slaninko wanted his before COVID hit,” says store to speak to nostalgia, Slanink. So, his decision to to be warm and welcoming, close for a couple of weeks but also to lift the curtain on was not an easy task. “We the baking and decorating weren’t ordered to shut process that typically down,” he says, however, the happens behind closed temporary closure allowed doors. him to figure out how to The store is an intimate keep the business running space with much of its while adhering to the new square footage dedicated social-distancing and mask to an open-air kitchen mandates. where someone in either During this time Slaninko the front- and back-ofbought a new, high-quality house can see and hear glass showcase and invested everything. in aesthetic updates for the Premium ingredients and creating everything in house is the key to maintaining quality, “I wanted to instill foyer. And even though the says Sweet Somethings owner Lee Slaninko. Photo by Joe del Tufo the importance of good changes were stressful, they customer service to all of “...were fulfilling,” he says, and much needed to reassess their my team,” says Slaninko. With the open-kitchen setup, growth strategy even during the pandemic. everyone could hear compliments as well as criticisms.
28 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
Slaninko sees his team as “a big family.” The atmosphere at Sweet Somethings is “really joyful and our team is great at what they do,” he says. He feels what distinguishes his bakery is the staff’s attention to detail and quality. “I like to tell my bakers and decorators to pretend that they’re making the cake or dessert for their family and friends,” he says. “It’s that extra moment you take that can make all the difference in someone’s day.” This special service extends to all customers, including Stiglitz, who celebrated his birthday during the height of the pandemic. “(In April) my family surprised me with a drive-by birthday. Lee drove over before the celebration to hand-deliver my favorite cake — carrot cake with cream cheese frosting,” says Stiglitz. Like this surprise delivery, Slaninko enjoys making the store’s wholesale deliveries even though he could easily pay someone else to do this. “It’s a way for me to be part of the restaurant industry and be the face of my business,” says Slaninko. “It also allows restaurateurs and chefs to bounce new dessert ideas off of me,” something Slaninko appreciates from both his external partners and his team.
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While Slaninko values speed and accuracy when his decorators and bakers are at work, he also allows time for them to explore new recipes. Many of these ideas become staple products including the trifle, a layered dessert with cake and frosting packed in a domedlid cup with a spoon so it’s ready to eat. “All of the crème brûlées and some of the flavored bombes (a hemisphere-shaped dessert made of chocolate cake, mousse and topped with a dark chocolate shell) were created by our team members,” says Slaninko. And though new ideas are always welcome, bestsellers remain popular as dessert trends ebb and flow. Sweet Somethings’ bestselling cake flavor is raspberry white chocolate, and for good reason. (Full disclosure: I’ve tried all of their cake flavors — yes, I’m that person — and would never in a million years pick a yellow cake to be my “favorite.” However, I can say that the white chocolate adds a subtle sweetness that complements the raspberry and yellow cake perfectly.) Other popular cake flavors include the chocolate caramel mousse and Oreo mousse.
In the future, Slaninko hopes to explore expanding new areas of the business like fresh-baked croissants and danishes. With its internal facelift that included a new, larger showcase and more tables to offer grab-n-go options, Slaninko also hopes to open one or two more locations in Delaware and possibly, Pennsylvania. The new, smaller footprint locations would still rely on Union Street as the main bakery but could support local communities with fresh- baked goods. — For more information about Sweet Somethings or to place a custom order, visit 1006 N. Union St., or visit online at sweetsomethingsdesserts.com.
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A Record Year Ingenuity and perseverance help many area vinyl shops prosper despite pandemic By Matt Morrissette
Squeezebox Records owner Rich Fisher at his Wilmington store. Photo by Joe del Tufo
n a year filled with calamity on a near-biblical scale and requiring supernatural levels of human endurance, the country’s owners of small and independent businesses faced some of the most unique and dire challenges of all from the ongoing pandemic that spanned most of 2020. It was certainly not the year to have invested one’s blood, sweat, and tears into a bar, music venue, or a myriad of other ventures dependent on public assembly. But as it turns out, it was not such a bad time to own one of Delaware’s surprisingly abundant independent record stores. ►
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A RECORD YEAR
A decade ago, it was hard to continued from previous page imagine that an ambitious vinyl enthusiast would be able to spend an entire day or even a weekend on a tour of the Small Wonder’s independent record shops. But the state has quietly grown into a crate digger’s paradise as fascination with record collecting has soared through the outreach of Record Store Day (the industry’s yearly celebration of itself), and the slow, sad demise of compact discs as a viable medium in the wake of music streaming services such as Spotify. Rainbow Records and Wonderland, in the college town of Newark, are the progenitors of the scene, both having survived since the 1970s. They’ve recently been joined in Blue Hen country by Long Play Café.
During the pandemic, Rainbow Records owner Todd Brewer has posted regular videos on social media updating customers on what new albums have arrived at the store. Photo by Melissa Forsythe/Rainbow Records
Near Arden, Jupiter Records first opened in 2013; its neighbor in North Wilmington is Jam — Music and Memorabilia (located in The Zeppelin & The Unicorn antique mall). SqueezeBox Records is going strong in the Little Italy section of Wilmington, and just outside city limits lies relative newcomer, Grooves and Tubes (Centreville) and GoodBoy Vinyl (Elsmere). Even Rehoboth Beach has two shops: Extended Play and Gidget’s Gadgets. Though counterintuitive at first glance, MCR Data, the industry tracking system for sales, indicates vinyl sales were up an astonishing 46.2% in 2020 over 2019, and the industry sold the most units since the information began being tracked 15 years ago. There are some obvious reasons for this: listeners having more time for the active listening experience that vinyl entails; the increased notoriety of Record Store Day; and the groundswell of support for small business in general. However, just as important is the ingenuity and perseverance of the record store owners and managers. Todd Brewer, owner of Rainbow Records, used the pandemic as the impetus to overhaul his whole business model. “This has been a very strange year for us, and it really forced us to rethink everything we know about the shop,” said Brewer. “We were really forced to get with the times systems-wise. That meant a new website, new Etsy shops for clothing and records, as well as a new inventory and point-of-sale system. This allowed us to be set up better for things like curbside pickup and shipping. The fact that we had all of these new things working together helped us keep the shop alive in 2020.”
Implementation of new systems At the heart of vinyl’s general and methodologies is a common thread resurgence over the past 10-plus among the local shops, and SqueezeBox years — and its viability and growth Records is no exception. during the pandemic — is Record “We were definitely rattled because Store Day. The first RSD took place our store tries to cater to those who like in April 2008 as a celebration of both to spend time browsing in a record store,” the record stores themselves and their explained store manager Matt Kaukeinen. rabid aficionados. In 2010, a second “We're talking one-plus hours. But we yearly Black Friday event was added pivoted. We started pushing our internet in November. The combination of insales on Discogs (the Ebay of records) and store appearances by bands and limited Instagram, taking orders over the phone, special releases has made those two and arranging curbside pickups. Curbside days highly anticipated by fans and the pickups were just people ordering online most crucial days of the year for record beforehand and then driving to the curb store owners. outside the store, and we would deliver But in 2020, Record Store Day’s their records with mask and gloves on. It April event was postponed to June due was spotty at first, but we just kept letting to the pandemic lockdown, which was everyone know we were still there.” then rescheduled again and retooled Goodboy Vinyl’s Chris Haug, a over similar concerns. The usual Goodboy Vinyl's Blane Dulin (left) and Chris Haug. well-known local musician and DJ, April event was split into three events O&A file photo reiterates nethe theory of survival taking place in August, September and through adaptation. October. Combined with the Black Friday event in November, “In the beginning when things first shut down, it was a little this allowed for four days of booming business instead of two rough, but we put the majority of the inventory online and were — all while accommodating social distancing measures. able to sell most of it,” Haug said. “Once things opened back up, Kaukeinen said the 2020 structure was a difference maker we limited the space for and the number of customers in the shop for Squeezebox. “Having those four huge days threw us a at a time, and I would say that we averaged the same amount of lot of business and threw record stores into the spotlight in general.” ► income throughout the week as we did prior to the pandemic.”
A RECORD YEAR continued from previous page
The Vivid Colors of Silhouettes Olivia Rubini’s album debut serves as launching pad for a promising young talent
f you are an aspiring young musician trying to get a debut record out in the middle of a pandemic, it certainly helps to have a colorful array of songwriting talents and a heavenly voice. It also doesn’t hurt to have the help of a father who has found success in the industry. Twenty-one-year-old Olivia Rubini checks all these boxes and more. On January 29, the independent artist released her full-album debut, Silhouettes, produced by her father, Ritchie Rubini, who is a member of The Caulfields and has amassed a considerable number of production and song-writing credits over the years on Wind-Up, A&M, Sony/BMG and Hollywood Records. “Working with my dad through the production process is surprisingly easygoing and natural,” says Rubini. “When we’re in the studio, the ideas are constantly flowing which creates an awesome environment that oftentimes sparks my inspiration musically and lyrically. “Working together has become a real joy since we both have so much to offer.” The daughter-and-father combo have been working on music together since Olivia was 15, putting out 10 singles through various digital services. Her song “To You (Remix)” received more than 150,000 plays on Spotify. “I think as I’ve become more confident in my visions for the individual songs, production style, and my identity as an artist, our communication and overall creative intuitiveness has improved immensely,” Rubini says. The album also sees the younger Rubini co-writing and working in the studio with other local music talents such as bassist Sam Nobles (Travel Songs, Bruce & Sam, Mean Lady), guitarist Andrew Price (The Limits, Stallions), and singersongwriter Cliff Hillis (Starbelly, Smash Palace, The Orchestra starring ELO former members). “The explorative nature of the album, musically and lyrically, was the organic, adventitious continuation of my growth as an artist and as a writer,” Rubini says. For more information on Rubini and Silhouettes go to oliviarubini.com. — Out & About
34 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
Rainbow’s Todd Brewer agrees. “In our experience, Record Store Day is extremely valuable when it comes to introducing new customers to our shop. Every year, there are a bunch of people that shop with us for the first time at these events. We thought the delay was the right thing to do as keeping people safe was our main priority last year. As a result, 2020 was our best event ever!” In a time of trouble, it’s often art that gives human beings the most solace, and there can be particular consolation in being transported from one’s own problems on the waves of another human voice singing a melody — be it uplifting or plaintive. This experience is especially heightened when listening on vinyl (ask any record collector or any record store owner for that matter). Says Kaukeinen, poetically summing up 2020 for independent record store owners, employees, and customers: “We definitely get a feeling from most of our customers these days that they are just so grateful to be out and hunting for something and getting a dose of quality retail therapy. It feels great to be selling great music that people can enjoy while they spend a little (too much) time at home. And records are things that people truly cherish.”
Hustling The pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league baseball season as well as dozens of franchises, leaving two local athletes scrambling for income while pursuing their dreams By Bob Yearick
ike many people in this ongoing pandemic, Tyler Hill has found that he needs a side hustle. Make that hustles. A 2014 graduate of Delaware Military Academy, where he was a three-sport star, Hill was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 19th round of that yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s baseball draft. Since then, he has bounced around the minors, reaching the High Class A level, including a stint in 2019 with his hometown Blue Rocks. â&#x2013;ş
Tyler Hill has gotten creative since COVID-19 interrupted his baseball dreams. Photo by Joe del Tufo
HUSTLING continued from previous page
Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. Major League Baseball responded by calling off the 2020 minor league season and eliminating 43 franchises— nearly one quarter of the entire system. Invitations were extended to a fortunate group of 120 teams — four for each of the 30 big league clubs. Hill was in spring training in Arizona when he got word his summer plans had been unceremoniously cancelled. He came home to live with his parents in Pike Creek sans a club affiliation, since his contract with the Blue Rocks had run out. “It was a tough spot to be in for a lot of guys like me,” says Hill, who turns 25 in March.
After your signing bonus is gone, you don’t make enough to do anything.
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It was a particularly disappointing development for the speedy outfielder because he had put together a stellar 2019 season, ending with a .403 batting average in 21 games in a Blue Rocks uniform and helping them win the Carolina League championship. The inequity of salaries at various levels of professional baseball has long been a subject of discussion. While Major League teams pay the least skilled player on their rosters a minimum of $563,500, minor league compensation falls well short of a livable wage. In 2019, Rookie Leaguers were getting $3,480 for a three-month season, while Triple A players earned $10,000 for five months. They are not paid for the offseason and they are not eligible for unemployment. Fortunately for these aspiring stars, an increase ranging from 30 percent to more than 70 percent was scheduled to kick in this year. Like many minor leaguers, Hill had already developed a side hustle to supplement his princely paycheck. For the past four off-seasons, he has been a batting instructor at Delaware Elite Baseball in Newark. It’s a gig he takes seriously, and one that may define his professional future. “When it comes to hitting, I could talk all day,” he says. “I take pride in my work [at Elite].” He says he has instructed as many as 17 students per week. “It involves a lot of video study and note-taking,” Hill says. He says he doesn’t teach any single philosophy of hitting, such as the Ted Williams uppercut theory or the line-drive-up-themiddle approach. He tailors his instruction to each student.
“The keys are understanding what happens in the swing and using your body properly and swinging the bat the right way,” he says. “And I don’t like to move on until I know they get it.” He even took off nearly a year to study under Dan Hennigan, a noted instructor who owns Brain & Barrel Hitting in Philadelphia. “I see myself as a hitting instructor [in pro ball] eventually,” Hill says.
Despite the minor league shutdown, Hill considers himself lucky in one sense: as part of the Kansas City Royals farm system, members of the Blue Rocks continued to be paid throughout the summer — a munificence not all Major League organizations granted. But it was quickly apparent that those checks, even when combined with his fees from hitting instruction, weren’t enough for a comfortable lifestyle. After a stint as bartender at Famous John’s Tavern in Pike Creek, Hill got creative and began a search for what he calls “different streams of income.” One of his first moves was to reconnect with Alex Brittingham, a local entrepreneur and former Delaware Military teammate. “He has helped me a lot,” says Hill. With Brittingham’s guidance, Hill last September established Major League Marketing, a real estate-related business. “I generate leads and set up meetings for real estate agents and run ads for them,” he says. On LinkedIn, he describes himself as “a professional baseball player that helps Realtors in the U.S. close 2-4 new deals monthly.” “I put my nose down and tried to work on that all winter,” he says. Hill’s creativity didn’t stop there. “Another friend set me up as an Amazon drop-shipping store. I hope to get this going before the start of next season.” (Drop shipping is a retail fulfillment method in which a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock. Using the drop-shipping model, it purchases the item from a third party and has it shipped directly to the customer. As a result, the seller doesn’t have to handle the product directly.) In the meantime, Hill definitely hasn’t given up on his baseball dreams. In early January, he was waiting on COVID-19 test results in anticipation of flying to Florida. There, he says, “I’ll train with some buddies, take some fly balls, get my routes correct, try to get a game feel” — all while living with his host family in Margo. At a solid 6 feet, 200 pounds, Hill boasts both power and speed. “I can play anywhere in the outfield and you can put me anywhere in the lineup,” he says. He and his agent are hoping for a minor league contract by early February. The son of two hard-working parents (his father, Phil, was a 20year veteran of the New Castle County Police and is the basketball coach at Delaware Military Academy), Hill is leaving nothing to chance. He has enrolled at Wilmington University, where he’ll take courses online while working toward a degree in Sports Management.
Closer Without A Team
Meanwhile, Hill’s friend Kyle Hinton is also looking for a ball club. Hinton graduated from Salesianum a year after Hill exited DMA, but unlike Hill he went on to college and a successful career as a righthanded closer at the University of Delaware. Hinton was drafted in the 16th round in 2018 by the Royals and received a $125,000 signing bonus. He stayed in the Royals system, including a stint ►
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Salesianum and UD graduate Kyle Hinton is instructing locally while hoping for his next opportunity in minor league baseball. Photo courtesy Kyle Hinton
with the Blue Rocks. He pitched for the Low A Lexington Legends in 2019, appearing in 36 games and going 3-5 with a 3.26 ERA. Hinton was released in October, the Royals ended their affiliation with the Legends in December, and Lexington is currently hoping to be picked up by another big league club. As Hill heads to The Sunshine State, Hinton is staying near home and training at Elite and at Tiger Sports in the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington. While waiting for a minor league contract, he continues to be a pitching instructor at Elite, where aspiring hurlers pay $45 per half-hour lesson. In the past, he’s held less glamorous jobs — bus boy and barback at Big Fish Grill on the Riverfront. Independent leagues may be in the
HUSTLING 24-year-old continued from previous page Hinton’s future. Four Canadian teams have contacted him, but he’s leaning toward the Southern Illinois Miners, in Marion, Ill. — members of the Midwestern Division of the independent Frontier League. He says they have shown strong interest. If he signs, he’ll not only get a paycheck — modest though it may be — he’ll also receive the road-trip meal money of $25 a day, which is no small consideration when you’re making around $1,000 a month. As Hinton says, “After your signing bonus is gone, you don’t make enough to do anything.”
38 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
Victory Brewing founding partners Ron Barchet (left) and Bill Covaleski. Photo courtesy Victory Brewing
DYNAMIC DUO Victory Brewing founders Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet continue a partnership that dates back to grade school By Kevin Noonan
hey met on a school bus, discovered they had many interests in common, and became best friends. Now, almost 50 years later, they still share common interests and they’re still best friends. But they’ve also become business partners and managed to find success in the competitive world of craft beer brewing. Bill Covaleski and Ron Barchet were fifth-graders at Worcester Elementary School in Lansdale, Pa., when they took that bus ride in 1973. Now both are 57 and are owneroperators of Victory Brewing Company, which manufactures craft beers and runs brew pubs in the Chester County (Pa.) towns of Downingtown, Parkesburg and Kennett Square. Later this year, Victory will open a 14,000-square-foot brew pub in Philadelphia. ► FEBRUARY 2021
DYNAMIC DUO continued from previous page
All of this really started with Covaleski’s father, who was a home brewer, which got his son, and then his son’s best friend, interested in the process. After college, they entered the corporate world — Coveleski as an art director at an advertising firm and Barchet as a financial analyst — but neither enjoyed sitting behind a desk all day. So, they decided to jump into the not-so-corporate world of craft beer. Both worked at a brewery in Baltimore to learn the business, although at different times, and individually traveled to Germany to study brewing from old-world masters. In 1996, they decided to take the plunge and started Victory, building their first brewery in an old Pepperidge Farm factory in Downingtown. In its first year, Victory shipped 1,725 barrels of beer. Eventually, they expanded their production to Parkesburg and Kennett Square, and in 2020 Victory shipped 151,000 barrels and its products are now sold in 35 states and nine countries. Recently, Covaleski and Barchet sat down for a Zoom interview with Out & About to discuss their past, present and future. For more information on the brewery and its different beers, visit VictoryBeer.com.
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O&A: What were your expectations when you first started out in 1996? Bill: “It wasn’t just that we wanted to make beer — we wanted to make beer of a higher quality than what really existed in mass distribution here in the United States. When we started our business plan there were only around 460 breweries operating in the United States, so we did feel that we would have a regional impact — we essentially felt we could sell between New York and Washington, D.C. But we also realized we had to make a splash locally, so we jumped into tap room operations from the very start. And the blended model of operation was kind of unique at that point — generally, you had a production brewery or a straight-up brew pub, and we had both.” O&A: Being business partners has ruined many f riendships. How have you two navigated through that? Ron: “We recognized the complementary skills we brought and pretty much took that business plan strategy and put it into running the business. Bill was in marketing, sales and communication and all of those critical elements of building a brand, and I was more in the back of the house doing financial stuff and operations. I don’t think we could have been successful with Victory with one person — that sharing of responsibilities is really how we did it.” O&A: How do you create new beers? Is it inspirational or methodical? Ron: “It’s evolved over the years and it used to be much less formal when there were 400 breweries, 1,000 breweries, 2,500 breweries in the United States. The last few years, with 8,000 breweries, a discipline is really required in developing any new products. You have to figure out where there is a need through analyzing data that’s available today that wasn’t there in the early years. Now, it’s very data driven.” O&A: You’ve brewed many award-winning beers such as Prima Pils, Dirtwolf and Storm King, but your most successful beer is Golden Monkey. Why is it so popular? Bill: “Even though we worked very, very hard from the start and through the years to perfect the liquid through process and recipe, it’s not a very unique Belgian Tripel. It’s a fantastic one, but not all that different from others. I think it’s because of the name, because of branding, it’s a
beer that nobody ever really breaks up with. A lot of people choose it early because is has high strength and a relatively good price point, and that’s sometimes a priority for young shoppers. And even when they creep into middle age, they have such great memories that they continue to purchase it.” O&A: Have you ever created a beer that you thought would be successful and wasn’t? Ron: “We developed a beer 7-8 years ago called Homegrown Lager. It was a phenomenal liquid, but it never took off in the marketplace. We did a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking, thinking about what we could have done better. Ultimately, the flavor was great, the texture was great, it was just a phenomenal beer, but it just did not work out in the marketplace. Why? We could argue a while over that, but for whatever reason it did not succeed.” O&A: There are thousands of craft beers out there now. Are you worried that the market is becoming oversaturated? Bill: “I’ve heard from consumers that they’re perplexed and overwhelmed by the options. So, I think everyone wanted more, more, more and now maybe we have too much.”
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Rendering of Victory Brewing's center-city Philadelphia location set to open later this year.
O&A: In 2016, Victory formed an alliance with Southern Tier Brewing Company to form Artisanal Brewing Company, and since then other breweries have joined the alliance, which shipped 447,800 barrels in 2020. How has that impacted your business? Bill: “What we saw in the partnership was a way to become stronger and more valuable within a defensible geographic territory. By the time we came together with Southern Tier there were over 7,000 breweries, so something that was unique when we got started became ubiquitous. We realized we should look at the business holistically and look at partnerships as a growth strategy.” Ron: “What we gained with this was an umbrella company that has buying power, and combining these breweries gets us a reduction in the cost of glass and the cost of cardboard, because we’re buying so much more. Also, the amount of knowledge our leadership team has is deep and has a lot of experience. Without that, I don’t think we would have had the success we’ve had the last couple of years in building our key accounts such as grocery chains and convenience store chains, as well as some restaurant chains. And that has let us weather this COVID storm better.” O&A: You’ve expanded quite a bit over the years. What are your plans for the future? Ron: “As far as production goes, we’ll just continue to expand operations in Parkesburg and Downingtown. But the big news is our tap room in Philadelphia. After years and years of looking for the right opportunity, it really found itself. And that’s pretty clear by the address alone — 1776 Ben Franklin Parkway. It’s a pretty amazing address and a perfect place to set up Victory.” FEBRUARY 2021
THE CITY MAYOR PURZYCKI SWORN-IN FOR A SECOND TERM
ike Purzycki took the Oath of Office on Tues., January 5, 2021 — one day after returning home from the hospital after heart surgery a week earlier — to officially begin his second, four-year term as Wilmington’s Mayor. With his wife Bette next to him, the Mayor was sworn into office during a virtual ceremony by his long-time friend, Family Court Judge Arlene Coppadge. Speaking after the Oath was administered, the Mayor said he’s looking forward to working with Council President Trippi Congo, the members of the 108th session of Council, and newly elected Treasurer DaWayne Sims. The Council and Treasurer were swornin later the same day. The Mayor expressed appreciation and love to his family for their support and thanked voters for electing him to a second term. “I’m humbled and honored to serve you again and will do all I can to continue to strengthen our City and its people,” he said. “My Administration remains dedicated to ensuring that when our time
Family Court Judge Arlene Coppadge swears in Mayor Purzycki for a 2nd term via Zoom on January 5, 2021.
in office is done, Wilmington and the people of this City are in a better position of opportunity, prosperity, and equality than when we arrived.” Mayor Purzycki said while 2020 was difficult for our City due to the pandemic, this year will also be challenging. The Mayor said City government and its front-line workers have responded well to this “once-in-a-lifetime crisis,” and he thanked employees for their efforts. No pandemic or other obstacle should get in the way of Wilmington becoming a more Just City — where respect, equality, and social and racial justice guide our hearts and actions every day, said the Mayor, continuing, “Our City’s future looks bright regardless of the many challenges ahead. We are going to have to be even more creative about finding and agreeing to solutions to our problems as well as being a more united voice to promote all the wonderful attributes of our City.”
A MESSAGE FROM MAYOR MIKE
s many know, on Wednesday, December 30, 2020, I underwent heart bypass surgery at Christiana Care Hospital to clear a coronary artery blockage first discovered at my annual physical exam and confirmed by further testing. The surgery was successful, and given that I am in otherwise good health, I expect to make a full recovery. I continue to be in touch with my Chief of Staff Tanya Washington as well as senior staff and department heads to ensure that all affairs of government continue normally as I recuperate from home. Thank you to all who have sent well wishes. My wife, Bette, and I are grateful for your support. I cannot stress enough the importance of paying attention to your health needs, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and following the advice of medical professionals to get tests done and/or necessary treatments.
42 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
A SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO OUT & ABOUT MAGAZINE
Photo credit Saquan Stimpson Par
PARKING TICKET AMNESTY PROGRAM EXTENDED
ilmington has announced the extension of its parking ticket amnesty program until Sunday, February 28, 2021, to give violators of city parking regulations
more time to clear parking tickets issued between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2019. To take advantage of this program individuals may pay their parking tickets at face value, with all penalties being waived. Only tickets issued in the years 2017, 2018,
NEWS YOU CAN USE! TRASH & RECYCLING COLLECTION SCHEDULE Visit the City of Wilmington’s website for more info. about trash and recycling in the City. To report issues about trash and recycling collection, please dial 3-1-1 or visit: www.WilmingtonDE.gov/311.
and 2019 will be eligible. Payment of the original fine amount will satisfy the full amount due. Payment for parking violations can be made online at www.wilmingtonparkingtickets.com.
CIVIC ASSOCIATIONS Looking for a community organization or civic association in your area? Visit: http://bit.ly/WilmDECivicAssoc
REMINDER! Mon., February 15: President’s Day (City Offices Closed; collection schedule modified) Mon., February 15: Deadline to apply for HBCU scholarship; visit www.HBCUWeek.org to apply.
Mayor Purzycki joins police cadets in a round of pushups in 2019.
A SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO OUT & ABOUT MAGAZINE
For more important January dates, visit https://www.wilmingtonde.gov
FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
SUPPORT OUR COMMUNITY! During this difficult time, there are numerous options on the Riverfront to get out, enjoy nature, and dine from some of your favorite restaurants! The Riverfront is a perfect venue to enjoy the outdoors and walk our 1.75 mile Riverwalk along the beautiful Christina River! Additionally, the DuPont Environmental Education Center is now open to the public. DEECâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nature trails, including the eight-mile Jack A. Markell Trail continues to be fully operational! Get out and enjoy some quality time in nature!
44 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
The Riverfront Market
MON-FRI: 9AM-6PM SAT: 9AM-4PM
Stop in and enjoy fresh produce, salads, sandwiches, coffee, pizza, sushi, Mexican,Thai cuisine and much more!
Dine-in or carry out!
DINING OPTIONS RIVERFRONT RESTAURANTS ARE OPEN
for in-house indoor and outdoor dining Banks Seafood Kitchen & Raw Bar Big Fish Grill Ciro Food & Drink Cosi Del Pez Docklands Drop Squad Kitchen Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant Riverfront Bakery River Rock Kitchen Starbucks The Juice Joint Timothyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on the Riverfront Ubon Thai
FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
Develop Creative Minds All Year Long!
New DCM At-Home Activity Kits Bring the DCM Home!
Order online and safely pick up curbside at the museum!
46 FEBRUARY 2021 | OUTANDABOUTNOW.COM
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