On any given summer evening you’ll be lucky to get a table. By 5pm Henlopen City Oyster house often has a waiting time of one and a half to two hours. Why? Consistently high rankings by food media; accolades like “What Hank’s Oyster Bar is to D.C., Henlopen City is to Rehoboth—a convivial nightly party” (Washingtonian magazine).” Even National Geographic, “After a day at the beach, head to Henlopen Oyster House for a platter of briny oysters…”
Opened in 2010, Henlopen City Oyster House is a full service restaurant and seafood bar in Rehoboth Beach, serving the local population and visitors year-round. Currently employing more than 40 employees, the restaurant serves over 60,000 customers a year and has enjoyed 18% revenue growth annually.
Owners Chris Bisaha and Joe Baker have long years of experience in the industry. Chris started working at age 15 as a dishwasher at the Rustler Steak House in Baltimore. At 17, he moved to Ocean City, Maryland where he was a line cook at Phillips Crab House. Over the years, Chris worked every job including dishwasher, bus boy, bartender and cook. Joe has also spent his career in the industry beginning as a teenager at Addy’s in Washington, D.C. He spent summers in Rehoboth Beach, where his grandparents had a summer home, working at local restaurants.
Chris and Joe met while working at Arena’s Deli and Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. Joe managed the kitchen and Chris ran the front of the house. The owners also owned Fin’s Restaurant where Chris and Joe both had a small ownership stake, eventually offering to buy out the owner. After lengthy negotiations, and with guidance from the Small Business Development Center, the two offered to sell their shares back to the owner and start their own restaurant, Henlopen City Oyster House.
Owners Chris and Joe are committed to giving back: giving time, food and financial resources. Annual contributions have ranged from $10,000 to $12,000, or more than $50,000 during their five years in business. They are also generous in taking the time to support resources like the SBDC, Such as by speaking before the State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee in Dover in support of the SBDC. “We are so glad that our bank referred us to the SBDC. Our advisor, Bill Pfaff helped us with the initial planning and the loan request (, as well as marketing, expansion planning, and a host of other things. We are so lucky to have such a great resource in Delaware.” Henlopen City Oyster House was successful in obtaining an SBA guaranteed loan to finance the start-up.
Henlopen City Oyster House
50 Wilmington Avenue, Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971, 302-260-9193