Cottage Café and 16 Mile team up for ‘second-season’ specials
Over the course of the past 22 years, the Cottage Café restaurant near Bethany Beach has more or less written the book for “the second season.”
Shoulder-season specials — including the Friday fish fry, Monday fried oysters and the always-popular roast turkey dinner on Sundays — have long been tradition for a legion of the area’s locals, and a way for the restaurant and pub to not only stay open throughout the winter but to show appreciation for the community that helps make it all possible.
While they’ve nailed that recipe down practically to a science after nearly two decades of R&D, this off-season, they’re cranking things up to 11 by teaming up with 16 Mile Brewery.
“It was like a match made in heaven,” said Cottage Café business manager Tom Harman, with a laugh, of when 16 Mile “Beer Slinger” Joe Botchie first came down to meet with Cottage Café/Bethany Boathouse bar manger Melanie Petrie and the rest of the Cottage crew.
“We’re all excited. It’s just worked out very well.”
Serving as bar manager for the past few years, Petrie said she’s been aiming to step up the pub’s “beer game,” bringing in and testing out a variety of local craft brews.
So, when she approached Botchie — whom she’s known for years, from both of them growing up in the area — the idea of pairing a local establishment with a local brewing company just made sense.
After all, the Georgetown-based brewery’s favorite social media slogan just so happens to be “#localsupportlocal.”
“Personally, 16 Mile is my favorite, so I got with Joe and told him that I really wanted to represent a local product,” Petrie explained. “That’s something that I was really interested in doing. I feel like, when you’re born and bred a Delawarean, it’s easy to share the love of the area.”
“Up and down the beach here, growing up in this area is a blessing,” added Botchie, who joined 16 Mile this past summer after a career with the Off the Hook Restaurant Group.
“Going back and working with great people and great businesses and being right in your back yard — to have such a local brand support such a local establishment like the Cottage Café is something I think is really cool.”
The idea was to not only offer up a wider selection of 16 Mile flagships but to be able to suggest specific beers with the night’s specific special, similar to how a cabernet is paired with a porterhouse, or a sauvignon blanc with a piece of fresh halibut.
To make it all happen, Botchie met with the Cottage’s service team for a series of trainings and tastings, eventually molding them all into 16 Mile sommeliers.
“I love this type of stuff,” he said. “I was able to come in and actually do a beer education for the staff — taste the beers, talk about them, and come up with multiple pairings for everything that they’re doing.”
The Cottage is currently featuring three different 16 Mile drafts, in addition to three by the bottle, including the brand new “Curvy Blond” — a Belgian-style golden ale with a mellow-hop finish and blood orange bite.
Along with the Blues Golden, it’s one of the pairings for Monday’s fried oyster night, also popping up as an ideal choice to go along with Friday’s fish fry.
Of all six of the specials, however, both Botchie and Petrie said they are particularly enamored by the complement that the Amber Sun pays to the Cottage’s barbecue sauce for Tuesday’s barbecue ribs special, as well as the Oyster Stout with Monday’s bacon-wrapped salmon.
Using actual oysters over cherry wood in the stout’s brewing process, along with smoked barley, they explained, the flavor profiles match perfectly, and the malt-driven Amber Sun creates an ideal balance of sweet and bitter alongside the ribs.
They’ve also found a home for 16 Mile’s Inlet IPA and Tiller Brown Ale, the overall six-brew selection carefully hand-picked in the hopes of being able to offer something for everyone.
“We’ve got something for every beer drinker,” Petrie said. “I love the Blues Golden because it’s a great introduction to craft beer. It’s not real hop-forward and it’s got a clean finish, which is great for people who want to try craft without having to go high-ABV (alcohol by volume).”
The Cottage has furthered their mission of local supporting local by getting their sales team invested and excited, beginning a contest that will extend five weeks, through Oct. 31, and finishing with a pizza-party celebration and raffle drawing for prizes and a chance to win a free brewery tour at 16 Mile.
Not only has the contest ended up bringing together local people with local product, but local people with local people as well.
“It’s a way for our salespeople to really get involved with the guests here,” Petrie said of the ancillary benefit of sparking flavor profile discussions between servers and their guests. “We’ve been able to branch them out, too. They all have a favorite 16 Mile now, which is awesome.”
While the contest will conclude at the end of next month, there are no signs that the new and budding partnership between the Cottage and 16 Mile, or their #localsupportlocal philosophy, will be ending anytime soon.
“16 Mile has offered a lot of support for us. Not only are we supporting them, but they’re supporting us as well,” said Petrie. “I think this will open the door for us to do a lot more in the future.”
“We’re very hands-on and a small family as a brewery,” added Botchie. “Working with local businesses is the one way that we are now, as a community, as a state, and even as a country, going back to the way that it should be.
“That’s why I’m so behind something like this — local community supporting local community.”
For a full list of the Cottage Cafe’s off-season specials, visit their website at www.cottagecafe.com. For more on 16 Mile, check out their website at www.16milebrewery.com, or find them on Facebook and Instagram.