Rebecca Fluharty: Setting the Standard in Restaurant Design

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The creative design force behind many of the Cape region’s most popular and stylish restaurants says she started small, joining her father on construction sites when Route 1 was still land. agricultural.

Rebecca Fluharty’s father George owned a masonry business and he took the kids to job sites all the time, Fluharty said. He let them look at the plans, she said. “I’ve always enjoyed looking at a new set of shots,” she said. “Looking at them, like, ‘Oh, I would have done this or I would have done that.’ “

Fluharty, 41, was born and raised in Lewes. She graduated from Cape Henlopen High School and, off the top of her head, can hang out with her family in the area at least with her great-grandparents. Things have changed, she said looking at Route 1, recalling a time when someone had to go to Dover or Salisbury to shop.

Fluharty said she never really thought about leaving the Cape region for good. She said she went to Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, now part of Thomas Jefferson University, where she majored in architectural design and minor in textile design. “He had a good reputation and it was close so I could come home on the weekends,” she said.

Fluharty’s father passed away in March. Until her death, she said, she would call him to get her opinion on the specifics of the design. “It was very helpful to be able to call her and ask her if that made sense or if it made sense,” she said.

In one of those time when everything comes to fruition, Fluharty helped with the recent renovation of Fins Fish House in Rehoboth on Rehoboth Avenue. His father did the masonry of the building 30 years ago when it was built. It was sentimental to be able to work on the same building, she said.

In the age of self-promotion, Fluharty is conspicuously absent from the internet or social media. A quick Google search brings up contact information, but it’s limited. Fluharty laughed at it, acknowledging that she was considering spreading her brand more, but so far, she said, she’s been lucky. She got all of her stuff through word of mouth.

“I have been fortunate that my clients appreciate the work I have done, and when asked, they had no problem sharing my information,” said Fluharty.

Fluharty said each restaurant’s design process is different. It depends on space, budget, time, the current state of the property and the owner’s involvement, she said. Some owners are practical and have a certain idea in mind, while others are not, and they are confident the product will come out the way they want it to, she said.

Fluharty said sometimes the biggest hurdle is getting your ideas across to the owner. “I see the vision in my head, but it’s not always easy to articulate,” she said. “I’m going to tell them to trust me, and most of the time they let me.” Fluharty said she takes inspiration from Instagram, travel and antiques. She said she owned some antique stores that she liked to shop at, but was always looking for a new place.

Fluharty said she is considering expanding her business, but enjoys being on site during construction. “I am a very practical person,” she said. “I want to be involved from the start of the process until the day after it opens. I like to stay the first day to make sure the issues are resolved.

Fluharty said she enjoys adding style by reusing old items. The interview took place in a Fluharty – Crust & Craft design on Route 1 in Lewes. She quickly listed the restaurant’s reused items – the large, red, light-up pizza sign in the back left corner is the Route 1 sign from the previous pizzeria; the Crust & Craft sign on the back right wall and the pizza, pasta, bar sign in the kitchen are pieces of steel used from current exterior signs; and the modern looking light fixture on the side wall was previously the menu bar that sat above the counter in the previous restaurant, minus the menu.

“I like to recycle things,” Fluharty said, admitting that most restaurants don’t have so many items.

Fluharty said she would do, and does, residential designs, but she far prefers commercial design work. When she started out in design, she said, she would have predicted that she would work in residential, but that’s the job she does the least. “Today I would take one commercial job out of five residential jobs,” she said. “I have always liked to design and create things. I never thought I would be doing restaurant design, but I love doing it. This is what I love to do, but I never knew I would.

As much as she enjoys designing restaurants, Fluharty has stated that she has no desire to open her own restaurant. “I see what these owners are doing to run their restaurants,” she said. “I like being able to finish a project and then hand it over. Plus, I’m definitely a really bad cook.

Fluharty projects

The list of restaurants and business designs that Rebecca Fluharty has completed is extensive. Here is a short list:

• Floral inspirations, Lewes
• Big Oyster Brewery, Lewes
• Big Chill Beach Club, Delaware Seashore State Park
• The blue hen, Rehoboth
• Pig & Publican, Lewes
• The Peninsula Golf and Country Club, Millsboro
• Coffee, Rehoboth
• Twisted hammock, Lewes
• Crust and Crafts, Lewes
• Rose and crown, Lewes
• Bluewater development, Ocean City


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