Stargate Diner set to reopen second location in Harrington

Owners Duray Salman, left, and Onur Pehlivan stand in front of the original Stargate Diner location on Dupont Highway in Harrington. Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller

HARRINGTON — Soon, Harrington will have a new restaurant option that will feel familiar to many locals.

“We are planning to reopen in three weeks, maybe at a maximum in four weeks,” said Onur Pehlivan, one of the owners of the Stargate Diner on Dupont Highway.

Mr. Pehlivan, the former manager of the Stargate Diner location in Seaford, bought the building that used to house the Cordelion Diner with his boss Duray Salman, who owns the Seaford location.

Now, Mr. Pehlivan will be working at the Harrington location full-time.

“The first Stargate Diner in Harrington used to be my business partner’s diner,” Mr. Pehlivan said. “But we don’t have any connection with the Cordelion Diner.”

He said Mr. Salman owned the Stargate Diner in Harrington first, then added a second location in Seaford.

“He kept both locations for a while, but it was kind of hard to manage at that time, so he sold the first Stargate Diner,” Mr. Pehlivan said. “Later on, they changed the name to the Cordelion Diner and he didn’t have any connection for the last four or five years.”

Mr. Pehlivan stressed that there’s no continuity between the Cordelion Diner and the new Stargate Diner in terms of management or kitchen staff. The Cordelion Diner, he said, was shut down by the Department of Health and Social Services in December.

“From the kitchen, no previous employees. From the management, no previous employees,” Mr. Pehlivan said. “Just a couple of servers who are good with customers in the Harrington area.”

He said these servers will provide some familiarity for members of the community.

“They know a lot of local customers, so they would be good employees, and my business partner knows them,” Mr. Pehlivan said.

“It’s going to be pretty much the same menu as the Stargate Diner in Seaford,” he said. “We’ll try to keep the same standards that we have at the Stargate Diner in Seaford.”

Dr. Jesse Riggin, a local chiropractor and the vice president of the Harrington Business Association, said locals were excited to have a new restaurant in town.

“It’s a locally-owned business, so I know a lot of people in the area like to support small businesses,” he said.

“Anytime we get a new place in town, and Stargate has a decent reputation, I think everybody’s happy to have one more choice of places to eat,” Mr. Riggin said. “Especially with it being a small business, not a chain restaurant.”

Mr. Pehlivan said he’s heard similar things from many of his customers, some of whom come all the way down to the Stargate location in Seaford from the area from towns like Milford, Greenwood and Bridgeville.

“We had so much feedback in the last six months and people put faith in us,” he said. “They like our food down here and they want to see us up there.”

Mr. Pehlivan said there’s a lack of variety in independently owned sit-down restaurants in Harrington at the moment.

“We know there’s only one place up in the Harrington area diner-wise, which is Rudy’s Diner, and everything else is fast food,” he said. “They don’t want to go to Rudy’s all the time. They go to Rudy’s for breakfast, but they don’t want to go to Rudy’s three times a day. They need a change.”

Mr. Riggin said it’s also good for Harrington to have another restaurant close to the parts of town east of Del. 13. That’s where his business, the Delmarva Chiropractic and Wellness Center, is located.

“Because it’s on the east side of the highway, that in and of itself is kind of nice,” Mr. Riggin said. “For our office, I take people out to lunch at least once a month, so I can tell you that it would be nice to have something right there in the parking lot and something serving that side of the highway, because it does kind of divide the town to a certain degree.”

Mr. Pehlivan was also excited about the restaurant’s location on the highway.

“I think it’s a busy route during the summertime, even with COVID-19, so we believe we’re going to get some traffic and some local business as well,” he said.

Mr. Pehlivan said he and Mr. Salman are in the process of getting a permit from the Office of Food Protection and renovating the building.

The kitchen will be totally re-done with new appliances, Mr. Pehlivan said. In the dining room, there will be new countertops and the carpet will be replaced with a laminated flooring.

“We did a whole renovation in the bathrooms and we put a new air conditioning system,” he said.

“We trust our menu and we have good relationships with our customers, so even with COVID-19, we think we’re going to do good business up there,” Mr. Pehlivan said.