Jake’s Seafood House in Rehoboth beach will close Sept. 20, because it’s been sold to someone else.
Bill and Lois Klemkowski, owners of Jake’s, announced the closing Monday. Their son, Will Klemkowski, said his parents accepted an offer for the restaurant, but he couldn’t release details about who purchased the location.
“COVID-19 was definitely a contributing factor in this decision,” Will said. “It played a part in the decision to accept the offer as it demonstrated the instability in our industry. It showed just how quickly we can get cut off at the knees. If there had never been a COVID-19 pandemic, we may have passed on the offer.”
A letter sent to customers said Lois and Bill would be “turning the page with Jake’s Seafood House and starting a new chapter in their lives.” Will thinks his mother is ready to retire.
“I think she is looking forward to the other side of working so hard,” Will said. “My dad is not a sit-around guy. I would not be surprised to hear of another project around the corner. As for me, I am focusing on the end chapter here at Jake’s with 100 percent attention. I feel like I owe it to our staff and our customers. After Sunday, I will look toward my next chapter.”
Jake and Mary Schneider founded the original Jakes’ Seafood House in Baltimore on the Patapsco River in 1929. It was one of Baltimore’s first seafood houses, offering what were known as “swimmers” or fish sandwiches. The original Jake’s, just over the Hanover Street Bridge, remained in the Schneider family for almost 50 years.
In 1988, Rosemary, Jake and Mary’s daughter, her son, Bill and his wife, Lois, opened Jake’s Seafood House in Rehoboth Beach, offering a jumbo lump crab cake from a recipe that has been in the family for over 80 years.
Just like the Baltimore location, all food at Jake’s was prepared daily and cooked to order. In 2003, a second Jake’s Seafood House opened on Coastal Highway. The downtown location closed three years ago due to a lease issue.
Jake’s has been a family operated business since the beginning.
Will, the oldest son of Bill and Lois, began working at Jake’s at 13, starting as a bus boy before becoming a server, bartender, manager and general manager. Their youngest son, Daniel served as general manager for four years. Their daughter, Christina, worked at the downtown location.
“I want to thank all the wonderful people who frequented Jakes’ Seafood House over the past 17+ years, as well as to all of you who have been a part of Jake’s,” Bill wrote in a letter sent to customers. “We were so blessed by such wonderful people, many of whom became dear friends.”
The family had a great run at Jake’s, the letter said.
“Thank you to all the hard-working, honest, fantastic people that worked with us,” the letter said. “We all had lots of fun at Jake’s … We all took so much pride in what we did, no matter what the task. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank all the chefs, line cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, hosts, hostesses, servers, bussers, bartenders and managers.
“But it is time.”