The Stewarts opened a small Cajun restaurant, Po’ Boys Creole & Fresh Catch, around the corner from a dollar store in the summer of 2009. The restaurant become an improbable success, voted as the town’s best restaurant by readers of one publication. After four and a half years of daily preparations of gumbo, jambalaya and crawfish, the Stewarts were selling the place.
The Stewarts announced Po’ Boys was for sale over the summer of 2016, a development that made locals who’d gotten used to the taste of their uncommon dishes – fried crawfish tails, oyster and shrimp po’ boy sandwiches, beignets for Sunday brunch – very, very nervous. “You are one of the reasons for us returning to Milton for vacation,” a Po’ Boys Facebook follower sighed.
“They established a foothold with cuisine they did very well,” said Ellen Passman, a Milton resident and frequent consumer of Po’ Boys gumbo. “It was a cross-cultural restaurant. Everybody met everybody in there.”
The owners embarked on a search for someone who would take over the business without swatting all the Creole meals off the menu. They turned down some suitors. Then an advisor at the University of Delaware’s Small Business Development Center connected the Stewarts to Michael Clampitt, 45, executive chef at Baywood Greens, a ritzy golf course near Millsboro. Clampitt was interested in owning his own restaurant.
“I flat out told him, you’d be an idiot to change the concept,” Amy Stewart said, and Clampitt agreed. He and the Stewarts soon sealed the deal. “Everything they’ve done has been spot-on,” Clampitt said. “That’s why I want to keep it.”
Now, Michael Clampitt just passed the six year mark as owner of Po’Boys in Milton. Clampitt, who had extensive restaurant industry experience prior to purchasing the restaurant in January 2014, has successfully cultivated a very loyal following in Sussex County. Since purchase, he has added a food truck to increase visibility in the region and also gives back to the community in several ways, including through support of the Surfgimp Foundation through a crawfish boil that is held each April at Camp Arrowhead near Lewes.
Michael has been as SBDC client for over 7 years. Congrats, Mike, on passing the six year mark as a business owner! Best wishes for continued success!