Blades marina inspires new business venture
by Annette C. Silva
Frank Clemente got in on the ground floor in what he believes will
be a burst of activity in Blades due to the soon-to-be Blades Marina.
To Clemente, the availability of the building in Blades was his
chance to combine his background and skills with a providential
time and place.
Now in its 4th week, Clemente's is receiving rave reviews from the
community; they're already busy during lunch and dinnertime. "I've
been here for lunch a couple of times with co-workers and it's great,"
said Bebe Moore.
Last Thurday night Bebe brought her husband Don with her to eat
fresh seafood and pasta for dinner. The menu at Clemente's features
Italian and Mediterranean dishes including seafood, veal and chicken,
several kinds of salads, homemade bread, pasta and of course pizza.
A New Jersey native, Clemente has been in the restaurant business
for nearly 20 years. He learned his trade in Rahway, New Jersey,
where he began apprenticing in l981 with a Spaniard from Galicia.
"I learned everything I know about serving food, paying attention
to detail and providing service from Manuel Vasquez at El Bodegon
restaurant," said Clemente referring to the well known restaurant
Clemente's is co-owned by Frank and his fiance Salina Bajger. Salina,
a CPA with a specialty in tax law, is Frank's anchor. "She's smart,
and her skill, support and discipline help me to concentrate on
running the restaurant," Clemente said.
The building is owned by Salina's relatives Wendy and Paul Apostolopous
who own Pestos in Salisbury, MD.
"Wendy and Paul convinced us to come here," said Clemente. After
the decision was made to plunge in and renovate, the restaurant
became a family effort.
"Salina and her mother [who lives in Delmar] decorated and picked
out the wall prints." Frank's parents came down from New Jersey and
"scrubbed, painted and generally helped us get ready for opening."
Local business people have encouraged them, too. "Our first day, Seaford
Florist sent us fresh flowers for the tables and we got hooked on
them; now we order the flowers regularly," Clemente said.
The pink and pale-yellow Fresia in table vases complement the small
candle-lanterns and general cafe-style ambiente of the restaurant
where Clemente says their goal is "to be an attractive and comfortable
neighborhood restaurant where people can count on good food and service."
On February 27, they have a hearing with the Town of Blades to seek
a zoning variance that will allow them to apply for a wine and beer
Many of his customers, he said, enjoy wine with their dinner and he
tells them they will have it in another 30 days or so. "I have to
convince the town that this will be a well-appointed neighborhood
restaurant, not a bar. In fact, we will not have a bar; we will have
wine and cocktails for our guests who enjoy them with dinner."
Clemente has two chefs: "Our main chef is Tim Chaney." Chaney is from
Salisbury where he previously worked at Waterman's Cove and The Red
His Pizza chef is Brad Elliott. They each have their own terrain.
Elliott works behind the granite counter in the main dining area and
Chaney oversees kitchen operations.
Clemente and Bajger take care of everything else. They have polite,
professional waiters including Bill Jackson, a New Castle native who
learned his trade in Florida. A few of the entrees on the menu at
Clemente's include: Shrimp Scampi wtih Angel Hair Pasta, Seafood Alfredo,
Seafood Marinara with shrimp, scallops and clams in a red wine sauce
and Shrimp Parmesan.
Appetizers include Clams Casino, Garlic Mussels in White Wine Sauce
and Sausage Stuffed with Mushrooms. Last Thursday, the special was
Fresh grilled Swordfish with Cheese Tortellini. Clemente buys his
seafood from Harbor House and seafood vendors. Dinner entrees range
from $7.95 to 12.95.
"The restaurant business can be brutal, unforgiving and rewarding,
all at the same time," said Clemente. "Generally, we restaurant people
spend our time loving it and hating it; we try to get out of it, then
we miss it and come back to it." While he's talking, his eyes are
darting from the kitchen to the waiter, to the food that's being served.
"Excuse me a minute, I'll be right back," says Frank and he's off
to check something. Soon he's back. "It's non-stop, but I love it."