Grey Fox Grille officially opens in Dover

DOVER — “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Those were the words of owners Diana Welch, her son Ryan Weber, and longtime friends James and Carolyn Davidson as they held the grand opening ceremony of the Grey Fox Grille & Public House on Monday afternoon.

“It’s a great feeling,” Ms. Welch said. “Everything went how we planned.”

The full-service restaurant and bar specializing in American cuisine at 140 S. State St. in downtown Dover used to be home to W.T. Smithers.

When the prior owners closed Smithers in 2014, Ms. Welch jumped on the opportunity. She then called Mr. Davidson and asked if he wanted to be a part of the business.

“My wife and I just jumped on it when she called us about the opportunity,” Mr. Davidson said. “We were friends in

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Owners Diana Welch, James Davidson, Carolyn Davidson and Ryan Weber celebrated the grand opening of the Grey Fox Grille & Public House at 140 S. State St. in downtown Dover on Monday afternoon. (Delaware State News/Dave Chambers)

the Air Force. We’ve known each other for about 20 years.

“She has a long history of doing this and I trust no one more than someone I was in the Air Force with.”

The first floor includes a dining area with a piano and a bar. There is also seating upstairs for customers waiting for tables.

“This doesn’t look like Smithers anymore,” Mr. Davidson said. “We plan to have live music — we’re in the process of finding a violinist.

“Also, the upstairs area will have private parties. Different organizations have already contacted us about that already. Everything has been great.”

Ms. Welch and Mr. Weber also own the Golden Fleece Tavern on Loockerman Street.

Ms. Davidson said she handled all the behind-the-scenes work while Ms. Welch and Mr. Weber handled everything else.

“They’re used to this,” Ms. Davidson said. “They’ve been doing this for a long time now. While they were busy with the construction of the building, I tried to handle everything else like the paperwork and the business aspect of it.

“We all just tried to help out as much as we could. We couldn’t have done this without the help of the Downtown Dover Partnership and Gov. Jack Markell’s Downtown Development District initiative.”

The initiative is designed to leverage private money to spur development in Delaware’s downtowns.

Dover, Wilmington and Seaford were designated as the program’s pilot districts.

Under the initiative, large projects can receive up to 20 percent of their construction costs back, city of Dover waivers on impact fees and building permits as well as cash rebates from the Downtown Dover Partnership and matching funds provided through Kent County Levy Court.

“I’m glad that we were able to help,” said Anas Ben Addi, director of the Delaware State Housing Authority. “With the city of Dover initiatives we have a good thing going on here in the city.

“These public programs would be on the shelf collecting dust if it wasn’t for you taking a chance and risk to make this happen. Hopefully, we’ll have more celebrations to come.”

William Neaton, Dover’s economic development director, agreed.

“This is a wonderful addition to the Downtown area,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming. We’re very proud to have this downtown.”

Ms. Welch has a long history in downtown Dover: She opened the Bell, Book and Candle shop, and later reopened the Dover Newsstand.

But she hopes the restaurant will start its own legacy.

“I want this to be here for a long time,” she said. “It’s sort of like an upscale restaurant with a casual atmosphere.

“You don’t have to dress up or anything, but I want this to be a place where people go on dates, or a place where people get off work and have a few drinks. We want to be a staple in the Dover community for a long time.”

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