Rosenfeld’s and Big Fish plan market
From: Cape Gazette:
You can practically hear the smiles over the phone as Richard and Rebecca Mais share their big news: although they will close McCabe’s Gourmet Market at the end of this year, local restaurateurs Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli and Big Fish Market have partnered to open another market in beloved South Bethany spot.
The couple will bid farewell to the market they have overseen from the beginning.
“We’ve been there 35 years, and they’re gonna take advantage of the fact that we’ve got a following,” said Richard Mais. “I think it’s gonna be a win-won for everyone, especially the customers.”
Careful not to mess with a good concept, the new owners will expand upon McCabe’s deli items, prepared salads, party platters, coffee, pastries and sandwiches.
“We’re going to keep a lot of the same things that McCabe’s does,” said Eric Sugrue, Big Fish Restaurant Group president and co-founder. “And if you can imagine adding — our Big Fish Market does a lot of things, from platters to fresh fish, beef, plus all our different salads, pasta salads, premade cooked and uncooked crab cakes … and then you add Rosenfeld’s particulars,” like corned beef, pastrami, knishes, chopped liver, smoked fish, pickles and bagels. Rosenfeld’s Deli will offer a sit-down restaurant for their giant Reubens, hotdogs and more, expanding the outdoor patio to at least three-season seating.
The intended opening is Memorial Day 2021, but many decisions remain. They’ll rework the space to bring the three successful business concepts under one roof: gourmet market, Rosenfeld’s restaurant and Big Fish Market. Although the unnamed location will likely just have both restaurant names over the door, it’s one single business.
“It’s a combined concept … in my places, you sit down and eat. Then you go over and order dessert or [deli]. This will be like that on steroids,” said Warren Rosenfeld, whose nearest restaurants are in Rehoboth Beach and Ocean City. “It’s one business. It’s not like a food court [with multiple registers]. It’s going to be very convenient for the customers.”
A week after signing the papers, Richard and Rebecca sounded happy and excited when discussing the decision on Dec. 1. After a lifetime of creating and building up a successful shop, they are ready to enjoy retirement and other projects in their life. The Maises still manage some rental properties and have an active volunteer life, with Rebecca as president of River Soccer Club and Richard as vice mayor of Fenwick Island Town Council. They want more beach days. They want to enjoy the company of neighbors.
“McCabe’s was our day-to-day real job, so we were really looking forward to getting out of that daily routine,” Rebecca Mais said. “There’s a lot to do in this community.”
“We will miss all of the great people … and hopefully when the world gets healthy, we’ll see everybody at Chamber [of Commerce] events,” Richard Mais said. “But mostly we want to say thank you.”
After all this time, their fondest memory may be of the employees, from 14-year-olds who grew up over the years, to international students who expanded their world, to an octogenarian baker.
“It’s really the people that made it important and worthwhile,” including a great staff, wonderful vendors’ business and wonderful customers,” Richard Mais said. “Delaware is such a great state and our local community, the Bethany-Fenwick area is such a great community. I think the businesspeople all support each other.”
“Any small business is your life,” said Rebecca Mais. “We’ve had customers for 35 years there. We couldn’t have done it without all the support that we’ve had.”
As the Maises mulled their options, Rosenfeld was scoping out potential space. He liked the South Bethany spot and convinced Big Fish to get involved.
The two businesses already formed a partnership in autumn of 2019 (Rosenfeld’s Expansion Partners LLC) to give the Jewish deli an operations partner for future locations. From now on, Big Fish will handle the operations of all new Rosenfeld’s locations (except in Worcester, Wicomico and Sussex Counties). This began with Rosenfeld’s newest Wilmington branch. “But I’m getting older. I didn’t really feel like opening a new location on my own,” Rosenfeld said, so he invited Big Fish to the South Bethany project.
The Big Fish Restaurant Group has been expanding for the past several years, now owning or managing 18 restaurants, catering operations and more, in addition to various investments, like the Rosenfeld’s partnership.
“The folks at Big Fish are big thinkers and, in my opinion, do everything incredibly well, and I think this combined concept will come off incredibly well … they make beautiful spaces and beautiful food,” Rosenfeld said. In terms of menu items, “We don’t really have anything that overlaps … We just think the market concept makes a lot of sense, because it’s both businesses putting their best foot forward,” Rosenfeld said.
And there’s still a chance that McCabe’s famed chicken salad will be on the menu.
“It’s not that complicated. It’s five ingredients, and the biggest thing is you have to make it 40 pounds at a time … Anything they want to continue that we did, we’re open to that,” Rebecca Mais said.
They love how parts of their life have come full circle, such as Sugue’s father being a McCabe’s customer years ago.
“He was so proud to tell us his sons were opening Big Fish Grill, which has always been one of our favorites in Rehoboth,” said Rebecca Mais, pleased with both restaurant groups. “They’re good quality people that also care about the community, and that’s so important to us.”
The Maises met at University of South Carolina, where Rebecca was earning a master’s degree and Richard — hailing from Kansas City, Mo. — worked. Life brought the Maises back to her mother’s coastal hometown to oversee her family’s cottage rentals, raise a family and attempt to recreate a charming gourmet market they had once loved in Columbia, S.C.
Opening in January of 1986, the Maises had a newborn and a new business. Over the years, they produced a younger son and a popular lunch stop.
But Richard and Rebecca didn’t create McCabe’s to be a family legacy or burden — it was just right for them as they raised a family. They began mulling a retirement plan a few years ago. Their boys aren’t looking to become fulltime proprietors — one teaches high school locally, while the other is a collegiate coach in South Carolina.
“They are really settled in what they were doing, and we’re really proud of them and what they’re doing,” Rebecca Mais said.
“McCabe’s” was named for her grandparents. Her family still owns the overall York Beach Mall shopping center, the only actual commercial zone within South Bethany proper.
McCabe’s will shut down, as always, around Dec. 31, 2020. Some 50-percent off sales have already begun. York Beach Mall is located at 34444 Coastal Highway, South Bethany.