When Lorraine and Gary Papp started their catering business seven years ago, they had no idea where it would take them.
Lorraine and Gary now own Palate Bistro & Catering in Rehoboth Beach, Del., a unique bistro with a little bit of something for everyone.
Meet The Owners
Lorraine and Gary have been in the restaurant business for more than 40 years, working their way up through the trenches.
Lorraine and her husband owned a restaurant in Pennsylvania for several years. It wasn’t until the birth of their children, the duo decided it was time for a change, making the move to Lewes in 1984.
“We relocated to Delaware because we had young children and we wanted to raise them in an environment a little bit slower then where we were,” Lorraine says.
But that wasn’t the only reason why. Lorraine’s friend was opening up The Buttery in Lewes and she wanted to help out. Although she said she would just be at the beach for one summer season, she couldn’t leave the Delaware seashore to go back to Pennsylvania.
“I helped out, fell in love with it, my husband came down and we ended up being with them for 16 years,” Lorraine says.
While at The Buttery, Lorraine took on the roles of kitchen manager and pastry chef while her husband Gary worked as the executive chef. After more than a decade, the couple decided it was time for a change. Que the catering business.
Palate Bistro & Catering
Lorraine and Gary started the catering business years ago under the name The Essential Chef. After doing well with the business, it was time for a storefront location where people could pick up their platters.
While expanding and occupying The Shops at Sea Coast strip mall, the business was re-branded into Palate Bistro & Catering. The bistro, located off of Route 1 and Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach, seats 35 people and runs from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., serving lunch and dinner all day.
Although the restaurant is located in a strip mall, the owners say you’d never know once you walk inside.
“It’s a really cute and timid bistro atmosphere,” Lorraine says. “You [feel like you] could be in New York City, you could be in Lewes, downtown Philly, maybe even France.”
On the menu you will find delicious arugula salads, creamy lump crab dip, fresh chicken salad sandwiches and slow cooked beef brisket, among other items.
“We use a lot of local businesses and farmers for our dishes,” Lorraine says. “We use Hockessin Creamery, we’ll use T.A. Farms for grassfed meat, Notting Hill makes a special coffee for us. We’re really specialized—not a cookie cutter bistro.”
Lorraine says the business doesn’t use any preservatives and prides their food on high quality, freshness.
In addition to the bistro menu, Palate offers catering for private parties, weddings, memorial services and more.
When it comes to Palate Bistro & Catering’s customer base, they typically cater to Georgetown, Rehoboth Beach and Lewes residents, although they would love to expand.
“The majority of our business is repeat and very local— I have a man who eats here every day…it’s a place you frequent.”
Lorraine says one of her biggest challenges is letting people know where the business is located.
“We are tucked away in a shopping center so we have to be a destination place,” Lorraine says. “Our locals know we are here and our base, but it’s the new customers.”
While speaking with Lorraine, she tried to pinpoint her favorite part about the business but the list went on and on.
“First, there’s nothing better than working for ourselves,” Lorraine says. “Also, we’ve created a business that supports people and their families, a business that employees are able to create a living on. Lastly, I love people. I spoke to every customer that came in today—a personal touch, that’s what you can do with a small dining room.”
Lorraine says the couple loves owning and operating a business in Rehoboth Beach. The restaurant belongs to the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce and works with several other restaurants in the area, including The Backyard Cafe.
“We can’t explain a better partnership than the way we get along with Rehoboth Beach,” Lorraine adds.
Wondering what to get if you go? Lorraine says one of her favorite dishes is the Chesapeake Seafood Stew.