Dover residents looking for good food in a family-friendly environment now have a new place to go: the Greene Turtle Sports Bar & Grille, located on U.S. Route 13.
The new restaurant, situated in the long-empty Golden Corral building, held its soft opening Dec. 16, but had its formal ribbon cutting on Jan. 23, with U.S. senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons present.
"I think that Dover not only needs a new restaurant, but something with a fun atmosphere," said General Manager Jason Hajek. "We have fun and our guests have fun when they come in here.
"There are other sports bars in town, but we cater to families," Hajek said.
One of the Greene Turtle's many amenities are a slew of flat screen televisions along the walls, each tuned to different sports-related channels. The same is true for the many booths situated along the south side of the building, except parents can change the programming to one of several kid-friendly networks, such as Nickelodeon.
That arrangement's proven pretty popular, particularly on Tuesday nights, where youngsters eat for free, Hajek said. The restaurant also offers a 15-percent discount for military personnel, he added.
"For everything they do for us, that's the least we can do for them," Hajek said.
Dover's Greene Turtle is the Maryland-based franchise's fourth operation in Delaware, with three more planned for the near future. The 7,800 square-foot building can accommodate almost 300 guests between the main dining room, bar, and a private party room that seats 35 patrons. The restaurant also features a 22-seat patio area with two televisions, which will open in the spring.
Hajek said the Greene Turtle features an Eastern Shore-based menu, with Maryland-style crab cakes being a particular favorite. In addition, guests have the option of ordering more than a dozen burger combinations, 10 varieties of chicken wings, sandwiches, soups, salads and wraps. The restaurant also features chicken, steak and fish entrees, as well as 26 locally-brewed craft beers, including Fordham, Old Dominion and Mispillion River.
"If you like craft beers, you're in the place in Dover with the most variety," Hajek said.
Customers can enjoy those beers drinking from their own, numbered mug as part of the Turtle's Mug Club. The mugs − there are approximately 700 of them − hang above the bar waiting for their owners to arrive.
"For a small, one-time fee, you purchase a mug, and no one else can drink from it," Hajek said. "It makes you part of the family here in Dover."
Restaurant management is nothing new to Hajek. A native of Bel Aire, Md., he often accompanied his parents to Ocean City, Md., site of the first Greene Turtle. Over the course of his career, he's worked at Ruby Tuesdays, Applebee's and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Page 2 of 2 - "You might say I've been around the block," Hajek said.
The Greene Turtle franchise is known for giving back to the communities in which their restaurants are located, and that's the case here in Dover, Hajek said.
A silent auction already has raised almost $2,500 for multiple sclerosis research and the restaurant features the Funds for Friends campaign, raising money for worthy organizations by giving back 20 percent of the days' receipts from customers who bring in Funds for Friends coupons.
Business for the new restaurant, which employs more than 140 full- and part-time staffers and managers, has been good, Hajek said.
"We're definitely very happy with the sales we've been doing and with all the repeat business we've been seeing," he said.