Henlopen City Oyster House Owners Named SBA’s Del. Small Business Persons of the Year
With those kinds of accolades, it probably shouldn’t come as any surprise that Henlopen City Oyster House’s co-owners, Chris Bisaha and Joe Baker, were named the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2016 Delaware Small Business Persons of the Year. The two were honored earlier this month at an awards dinner held at the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Del.
“It was a great honor for us,” says Chris. “I couldn’t believe it, so it was really great.”
In June 2010, Chris and Joe opened Henlopen City Oyster House – a full-service seafood restaurant and raw bar. The focus is on fresh seafood, and lots of it. The restaurant’s raw bar features several varieties of oysters, most of which come from the East Coast. And on the dinner menu, one can find everything from classic oyster stew to pan-seared Maryland rockfish to bouillabaisse.
According to the SBA, Henlopen City successfully obtained financing with the assistance of the Delaware Small Business Development Center. The SBDC worked with Chris and Joe on cash projections and getting them prepared for a bank loan application
The SBA says that today, Henlopen City has increased sales and maintains an expanded customer base.
On any given summer evening starting at 5 p.m. the restaurant is at capacity with a waiting time of one to two hours, according to the SBA, which noted that the latest Zagat rating ranks Henlopen City as the eighth hottest restaurant in Rehoboth Beach.
The SBA says employment has also increased – Chris and Joe have added more staff in both the summer tourist season as well as during the off-season summer months.
In recognizing Chris and Joe as its Small Business Persons of the Year, the SBA said the two have committed their time, food and financial resource to many charitable organizations. They host charity dinners at Henlopen City to benefit organizations such as the Buddy Walk for children with Down Syndrome, the University of Delaware Blue-Gold football game and the American Heart Association. They also host a special “percent of sales” event at Henlopen for Meriam’s Table which benefits disadvantaged children living in the Congo.
“Annual contributions have ranged from $10,000 to $12,000, or more than $50,000 during their five years in business,” the Delaware Small Business Development Center said.
“Henlopen City Oyster House is a prime example of a small business bringing big character to its hometown,” said SBA Delaware District Director John Fleming. He says the restaurant’s level of success is something that “Henlopen City’s owners – Chris Bisaha and Joe Baker – should be very proud of and something SBA is proud to recognize with its 2016 Delaware Small Business Persons of the Year award.”
When asked some of the reasons why he and Joe were honored, Chris replied, “We have great food. We provide year-round employment for people and we’ve grown pretty exponentially since we opened.”
Another key to their success?
“We have great people working for us,” Chris says.
Henlopen City Oyster House
50 Wilmington Ave.
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971