New family-friendly Smyrna restaurant and pool hall located on northbound U.S. Route 13, just north of Glenwood Avenue
David and Stacy Deakyne and their business partner Carmine Alessandro have been racking up compliments after opening a family-friendly café and pool hall in Smyrna.
The Slate Café, featuring a bistro, billiards and brews, opened a few months ago at 5838 Dupont Parkway (northbound U.S. Route 13) between Glenwood Avenue and Paddock Road.
“We had a slow roll out and we were pleasantly surprised,” said David. “It’s been busy. We had some growing pains, but we’re very happy with the way the community embraced it, which was our hope all along.”
“People seem to see a lot of value in our mission,” said Carmine. “There are very few options for a night out with your family like this. Our prices are affordable, the food is exemplary, and the pool tables can’t be matched.”
Robert Coburn of Smyrna had one word to describe what he likes about The Slate Café: “Everything.”
“I’ve got no complaints and I’ve been complaining about things for the past 30 years,” he joked. “The tables are perfect here and the food is great.”
Jabbar Lott of Camden gives Slate high marks for the pool tables, the café and the friendly staff.
“I like the tables and the food is amazing. This is quality time – to hang out here and unwind. The staff is always extra nice,” he said. “I’ve been to pool halls that are just pool halls, but here, if you want to sit down and have a quality entrée, you can. It’s just a cool place to go.”
The owners said everything they do is with a focus on Smyrna.
“That’s why the cloth on the pool tables is red,” said David, referring to the color of the Smyrna School District sports teams.
David and Stacy are alumni of Smyrna High. David followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming a dentist at Deakyne Dental Associates in Smyrna, while Stacy has pursued a career as an educator including teaching at Sunnyside Elementary.
David said the inspiration for The Slate Café was a similar restaurant where he worked while in college in Richmond, Virginia.
“I had such a good time there and enjoyed it so much, I wanted to bring something like this to Smyrna,” he said.
Stacy said a restaurant like Slate gives families the chance to spend time together and teens a place to call their own.
“I liked the idea of providing a place where parents and children can interact and get away from their cell phones and tablets, and where students can go that’s safe and in town,” she said. “The high school kids can hang out here, and that’s nice to see in Smyrna.”
Carmine is a patient at David’s dental practice and they had gotten into conversations about the pool hall-café concept.
“Carmine told me, ‘When you’re ready to open a place like that, let me know. I’d love to do that,’” said David.
The idea appealed to Carmine for several reasons.
“First and foremost, there isn’t anything like it around. Dave and I were like-minded about wanting this to be a family establishment where you could enjoy pool, a decent meal and drinks if you choose,” said Carmine. “There’s a dynamic here that’s unlike anything else. You have fathers and mothers playing pool with their sons and daughters.”
However, the plan took about three years to put in place. They looked at existing locations and thought about building their own.
Then, the hardware store closed on northbound Route 13, and the building was available.
“Our original plan wasn’t this big,” said David. “But this building has an open span with no columns that is perfect for us.”
The Slate Café features 21 competition-style billiard tables: seven that are nine feet and 14 that are seven feet.
“The tables are made in America and have a 23-point leveling system,” said David.
Slate has already hosted three pool tournaments, including the state championship qualifier for the national tournament.
“We had players from New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania commenting on how nice the tables are,” said David.
The next tournament is Saturday, March 4 for the best league players in the Eastern region.
“The tournament used to be split up at multiple locations because no one has the number of tables that we do,” said David.
However, even during tournaments, The Slate Café has tables available for open play.
“Someone with no knowledge of the game can have a good time here, but we also cater to the best of the best,” said Carmine.
The café is open to everyone, whether you come in to play pool or not.
“We didn’t want to do a traditional bar menu,” said David. “We set out to hire a chef and build a top-quality kitchen.”
The chef, Jeff Carr, previously worked at Iron Hill Brewery.
“We have house-made, fresh, local dishes,” said Stacy. “We frequently change the menu based on what’s in season.”
Some of the favorites include bison chili, stuffed chicken, and a portabella mushroom sandwich.
“We’re probably the only place in the state where you can get a scallop burger,” said David. “We truly want to be a community destination that can accommodate every taste.”
The café also has more traditional snacks like chicken wings, but the owners said even the wings are special.
“We have a unique cooking process that makes them tender inside and crispy outside,” said Carmine.
The café is separate from the pool hall, but with windows to see the pool action if diners wish.
“We can close the door to the café if people want to have meetings, parties and Power Point presentations,” said David. “We can set up a buffet to accommodate your needs. We’ve already booked a graduation party.”
The Slate Café has a staff of 46.
“To bring that kind of employment to this area is something that’s very important to us,” said Carmine. “And the staff is almost exclusively from this community.”
The bar features beautifully-crafted woodwork, with inlays of billiard balls in different patterns, with a special section called “Lucky’s Corner.”
“That’s a tribute to my grandfather who was a country doctor in Smyrna who loved to play pool,” said David.
The corner of the bar features a replica in silver print of W. Clifton “Lucky” Deakyne’s page in his medical school yearbook from 1919, highlighting his accomplishments and his character.
David thanked Ed Ide and his crew from i3a construction management for their craftsmanship on the project.
The Slate Café is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. For information, call (302) 508-2763.