Meding on a roll with Tailgate Tuesdays

MILFORD — A self-described “gearhead” still spreads his love of classic, souped-up vehicles while too busy to venture out on his own.

When helping run a family-owned seafood restaurant left 42-year-old Milford native Rob Meding unavailable to attend car shows, he started his own local event eight years ago.

On Tailgate Tuesdays, more than 100 cars are typically on show at Meding’s Seafood, with up to 300 visitors stopping by to check them out in a family-oriented gathering. This year’s series of events began with a May 26 “Kick Off Party, School’s Out” get-together, and concludes Sept. 15 with an “End of Summer Bash.”

“When you’re a gearhead and have a true appreciation of cars, it’s neat to give others with the same interest a spark to maybe stay up in the garage until 10 or 11 at night preparing for a show,” Mr. Meding said the day after this week’s Stars and Stripes themed show at 3697 Bay Road (Del. 1 South).

Interest from local car clubs has continued to grow, Mr. Meding said, drawn to Milford’s proximity that counters weekend travel to relatively faraway shows.

The Southern Delaware Jeep Club annually holds two large-scale events at Meding’s and other car clubs often frequent the restaurant after connecting through the gatherings, Mr. Meding said.

Beach-bound out-of-state travelers are often drawn in by the collection of cars seen from Del. 1, and other tourists make it a tradition to visit when in the area, Mr. Meding said.

The outpouring of interest is far removed from the early years of Tailgate Tuesdays, when 10 to 15 cars were on display.

Now, a wide-ranging display of old Bentleys, Volkswagens, Cobras, Corvettes, Camaros and Chevelles are often among the entertaining four-wheeled array parked at Meding’s and on display.

“Tuesday is my weekend,” Mr. Meding said. “You can’t go anywhere in the state and see as many smiles as there are at Tailgate Tuesday.”

The big night comes with a lot of setup work — Mr. Meding estimated it takes four hours for three staffers to ready for Tailgate Tuesday; setting up the outside kitchen, trash cans, washing vehicles and putting out cornhole equipment takes time.

Events officially begin at 6 p.m. (attendees are invited to come earlier if available) and run until 9 p.m. or so. There’s no registration or fees for participants, and Meding’s asks that no solicitations be made.

When the crowd comes in at night, another two staff members are there to assist the proceedings, Mr. Meding said.

Well before the shows began, Mr. Meding said a pallet full of water was purchased from Sam’s Club, hot dogs and kielbasas from local grocery stores.

“My staff totally enjoys this,” he said. “It’s good for the attitude of everyone who takes part in what’s a really fun atmosphere …

“It’s not work if you’re having fun.”

Among Mr. Meding’s own favorites are a 1934 Dodge pickup truck and 1949 GMC panel truck, along with Chevrolet Syclone, S-10 and Typhoon models. He’s never counted the number of vehicles he owns, since they are continuously coming and going through his “Rob’s Riders” dealership enterprise that’s been going for more than 20 years.

For more information, call 335-3944 or visit Medingsseafood.com.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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