Long Live Fajita Nation

by Dave on October 15, 2009

by Pam George

There’s just no stopping those two wild and crazy guys at Dos Locos in Rehoboth Beach. Darryl Ciarlante and Joe Zuber have been promoting fajitas, quesadillas and frosty margaritas at the beach since they purchased the restaurant in 2001.  They’ve survived three moves and a short-lived sister restaurant, Burgerville. Now they’re getting ready to tout Tex-Mex cuisine in Lewes.

The partners this winter will turn Blue Plate into Fajita Nation. Buck up, Blue Plate fans. The restaurant will continue serving the breakfast that made the Savannah Road eatery so popular. “It’s been a staple for many years,” Zuber says. “Why stop something that’s a staple?”

Ciarlante and Zuber purchased Blue Plate last May. “We’ve wanted the location for a few years,” says Zuber, who pounced when the price was right. “We have a lot of customers in Lewes and Milton who enjoy our food and atmosphere, but sometimes it’s too crazy to come down in summer. Now they don’t need to leave Lewes. We’ll provide the same food and service that we do here.”

Like Dos Locos, Fajita Nation will feature a stone “grill,” an Australian import that’s heated to 400 degrees and brought tableside, nestled in a tray. Customers cook their meal a la fondue or Korean barbecue. Sauces are served on the side.

Not all Dos Locos’ menu items will travel north. “It’s just too huge,” Zuber says of the full menu. “It would require too much equipment; we scaled it down to our most popular items.”

Eventually, the diner décor will give way to a more festive atmosphere. Wave adios to Formica tables and say hello to red and yellow, Dos Locos’ signature colors. The façade and architectural features, which suits the town, will remain the same.

Established in 1992, Dos Locos over the years attracted a loyal following, including

Ciarlante and Zuber, who visited while living in Mullica Hill, N.J. They purchased the 50-seat restaurant, then on First Street, when they relocated to the beach. The restaurant in 2003 moved to Wilmington Avenue, which let them expand to 138 seats. The current location on Rehoboth Avenue, formerly home to Abizaks, accommodates 186. Staff over the years has grown from 5 to 35.

Zuber anticipates having a staff of 35 at each location. The partners also plan to keep Fajita Nation open seven days a week, all year long. During the off-season, many people travel two or three hours for a weekend getaway or a daytrip, Zuber notes. He wants them to count on Dos Loos and Fajita Nation. “If you come into town, we want to be open,” he says.

Zuber acknowledges that Lewes has a different vibe than Rehoboth Beach, and that is fine by him. “We like the small town atmosphere,” he says. “We’re a Mom and Pop operation—well more like two dads. We’re not late-night bar people. We’re down-home people.”

With that kind of attitude, Fajita Nation should do just fine.

Blue Plate (soon-to-be Fajita Nation) is located at 329 Savannah Road in Lewes. Call 302-644-8400. Dos Locos is located at 208 Rehoboth Ave. Call 302- 227-3353.

Pam George is a freelance writer who writes regularly about food & restaurants. She rocks.

This article first appeared in Coastal Sussex Weekly, August 6, 2009.

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