Dave Dietz is a forward-looking guy who likes to think in decades.
So as the restaurateur’s popular pillar of Greenville’s dining and pub scene, BBC Tavern and Grill, began leaning towards its tenth anniversary in its Kennett Pike location this fall, he decided the time had come for a snazzy new look – the kind of refresh that could serve the institution well for the next ten years.
Over the last year, Dietz began planning for the changes, consulting with customers and friends and designers to arrive at the right kind of setting and vibe that has made the BBC such a success. The result is what interior designer Kate Poole has tagged, “New York sharp meets old Wilmington chic.”
Dietz gave us an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of the construction underway at BBC, including a peek at the fresh designs inside and a new layout that transforms the outdoor space. A new, 640 square-foot awning will cover the entire outdoor seating area, which will be enhanced by modern-looking ceiling fans. Two gas-lit, rectangular fire pits will be centered in the patio, and string market lighting will replace what Dietz calls the ‘harsh halogen fixtures’ that once illuminated the front door.
The front entrance is probably the biggest change at the restaurant. The cramped vestibule is gone, and in its place is a California wall system — large tempered glass folding doors that will shed lots more light indoors and will be functional year-round. When the doors are open, they can stack at one end out of the way of customers. An air curtain mounted inside and above the door will blow warm air down in colder months.
Because old traditions are cherished in Wilmington, Dietz decided to save the original wood door with the BBC logo and move that 12 feet to the right. Customers will enter through there in colder months when the glass doors are closed.
Take a look inside and you’ll notice the orange paint above the black-painted wood trim is almost gone. In its place is a warm taupe-gray that was selected to complement the stone column work outside. Poole said the paint color was one of the first and most obvious things to address in the renovation. “We really needed to give the restaurant a facelift – a fresh coat. It needed updating to bring it up to 2020. It’s a little bit more industrial, cleaner lines. But we haven’t gone crazy.”
Dietz added two 80-inch flat-screen TVs in the bar area and will replace the 40-inch versions with 55-inch versions. “So we’re going to have a total of nine TVs in the bar area now, which is a huge improvement over what we had,” said Dietz.
Several customers regularly ask to be seated in the cozy alcove area near the bar, which for 10 years has featured a round, Cheetah print light fixture centered over the table. That fixture will be replaced with a large Edison bulb chandelier. “It’s very contemporary,” said Poole. But around the corner, in the “L” dining section of the restaurant, the two existing chandeliers will be outfitted with — you guessed it — Cheeta print shades.
Dietz, who got his start in the business working at the side of the legendary Tony Comero in Dewey Beach, told us the decor and floorplan aren’t the only things changing: a new menu is on the way this fall, featuring fresh, locally-sourced seasonal dishes and shared plates. More on that below in our Q&A.
BBC will be back open for business Monday, August 19, meaning the interior work was completed in just under a week. The new awning will be installed later in September.
Town Square Delaware: Why are you undertaking this remodeling?
Dave Dietz: We have been open in this location for ten years, so it’s just time. We want to freshen things up a bit before we start to look dated.
TSD: What inspired your design choices?
Dietz: I wanted to make changes because change is good. With the new Barley Mill Plaza/Wegman’s center development that may be completed soon, it makes sense to freshen things up now to stay ahead of the curve.
TSD: Did you consult with customers/friends/experts?
Dietz: I spoke to a lot of customers about what I was considering doing, and they had many great ideas. Ralph Rossi of Buccini/Pollin Group, our landlord, was in one evening and I told him what I was thinking. He had some ideas and then recommended Sarah Lamb of their design team who had some good input.
I also consulted with our interior decorator, Kate Poole, as well as Steve Bolinger and Richard Buchanan of Archer & Buchanan Architecture who were the original architects when we built in 2009. I have also had excellent ideas from my staff – they are the ones who work in the space and think about how we can improve. They have had input on everything from design, layout, paint colors and decorations. So I have taken input for a variety of sources.
TSD: From a business standpoint, how will the changes help you continue to grow and reach new customers?
Dietz: The buzz that has already been created has been amazing. We know the local community will be talking about this, and so we have to be prepared for a busy fall season. I think these changes will set us up for the next ten years.
TSD: Any related changes to your menu or other offerings?
Dietz: Yes, we plan some big changes for our fall menu which we will unveil in about a month. We will be eliminating a few of the more traditional protein, starch, vegetable entrees and creating some new shareable plates to better reflect the way people are dining these days. Look for shareable plates such as seared scallops with roasted tri-colored cauliflower, cheddar grits, and a chipotle honey drizzle, roasted seasonal vegetables, artisanal cheese boards, homemade meatballs with fresh bakes ricotta and grilled focaccia.
TSD: We assume your famous charity Guest Bartending events will continue?
TSD: Yes, the guest bartender program continues to flourish and raise money for a variety of organizations in the area. To date, we have helped raise several million dollars for local schools, animal shelters, research for many diseases, athletic teams, arts and education and even the environment.