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Rebel Cove plans to open restaurant in downtown Dover


Ben Mace   | Delaware News Journal

Could a pirate revive a downtown Dover restaurant site?

The owners of Middletown’s Rebel Cove Grill, with a pirate/island theme, are dropping anchor at the former site of 33 West Ale House & Grill at Loockerman and Bradford streets in Dover.

Steve and Lisa Kochel plan to launch their new venture in April, serving lunch and dinner.

“We want to keep our cheesesteak pedigree, but we’ll be offering more soups, salads and small plates,” Steve Kochel said. “We’re not going to get too fancy, but we’ll have more than sandwiches.”

Downtown Dover Partnership operations manager Tina Bradbury said the Kochels already have food fans in the city.

“The Rebel Cove food truck was a staple at the Capital City Farmer's Market several years ago and was very well received by the community,” Bradbury said. 

The food truck also operated at downtown celebrations at Halloween and Christmas.

“When the restaurant space became available, I reconnected with the owners and invited them to take a look,” Bradbury said. “They were really excited and immediately came down to tour the space. Just a week later, they signed the lease.”

Lisa Kochel said their success with the food truck led them consider opening a restaurant in the city. The farmers market was right across the street from the 33 West site where their new restaurant will be. The food truck also operated at Dover Air Force Base during the summer of 2018.

“The customers really enjoyed what we had to offer when we were part of the Dover farmers market, and we loved being part of the Dover community,” she said. “In fact, the small-town feel of the Capital City has always been a big draw for us.”

The Kochels operated the food truck from 2015 to 2019 and then opened their Middletown sandwich shop at 5411 Peterson Road in the Main Street Station shopping center.

The Dover location will offer many of the menu items from the food truck and Middletown shop including Philly cheesesteaks, “Deadman’s Chest” cheesesteak egg rolls, New Orleans inspired “po’ boy” sandwiches with shrimp or oysters, grilled tacos, Cajun-coconut chowder, crab cheese fries and fried brownie bites with salted caramel and a powdered sugar dusting.  

They will feature local beers and introduce signature cocktails.

“We want to keep the previous owner’s model, how he represented local brews. We thought that was a good idea,” Steve Kochel said.

They are also planning to offer catering.

“We are looking forward to becoming a known name and the go-to place for special occasions, team events, shoppers and company luncheons,” Steve Kochel said.

The Kochels estimate they will have between 12 and 18 employees to start, depending on the capacity allowed by the state.

The site has seating for about 72, but restaurants in Delaware are currently restricted to 50% capacity due to coronavirus precautions.

“We were thinking about expansion, but not this year,” Steve Kochel said. “Then when the opportunity was presented to us, with the kitchen already set up and a liquor license that can be transferred, we decided to jump in. Hopefully, with the vaccines, the restrictions should be lessening by the time we open.”