Salisbury food pavilion offers relaxing atmosphere

su food court

Salisbury’s new, 14,000-square-foot food court, lush with greenery, has a beachy, tropical feel, with thatched grass umbrellas and an open game of corn hole for guests.

There’s a comfortable feeling of being both indoors and out, thanks to see-through walls and roof, which can be opened on pleasant days, said co-owner Glenn Ains, who runs Hopper’s Tap House, one of the six establishments that surround the pavilion.

They are Da’Nizza Pizza, with pies baked in a wood-fired oven that reaches 800 to 1,000 degrees; Primo Hoagies, with sandwiches and wraps; Wingin’ It!, selling chicken wings, French fries, salads and appetizers; Smokin’ Grille BBQ, with cheeseburgers, soups and crab cakes; and Café U, featuring a juice bar, coffee, breakfast and light fare.

“It’s affordable family dining. There’s nothing like it around here. You won’t have to go to Ocean City to get that feel of the beach,” said a pleasant Ains, sitting in one of the booths in Hoppers with a bottle of water in his hand.

He was thinking about the crowd at 1400 South on a recent afternoon, when about 90 people were watching games on 19 TV sets as they ate and sipped. Children were running around. It was just as Ains, a real estate agent for RE/MAX, imagined it would be when he conceived of the idea.

He was in an airport at the Dominican Republic, enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of being indoors while feeling as though he were outside. “I said, ‘Know what? That would be a really good idea,’” he recalled.

With business partners Harry Metcalfe and Brian Nelson, it became reality. Craig Stetzer is his partner at Hopper’s.

“It’s new.  It’s something different. There isn’t anything like this20160321_154722. There’s a lot of light. Today, it’s 50 degrees out and the temperature in here is 69. Our 19 TVs are all over 55 to 75 inches,” he said.

“It’s all about the support of other local businesses. There’s a lot of room here, with ample seating and four parking lots. We have an agreement with TCBY behind us, so we can use that parking lot. Each shop is 700 square feet to 1,100 square feet,” he said.

The five restaurants won’t compete. In fact, none of them sell the same items, allowing them to share customers, not fight for them.

Only Hoppers has beer and wine. All beers on tap are local.

Recessed in the ceiling of Hoppers, with its walls retained from University Tire that preceded it, are four TV sets side by side, in the shape of a rectangle. Images change from clouds to gently moving water to stars.

In a couple weeks, when the café opens, breakfast will be cooking as early as 6 a.m. At least one of the restaurants will be open late every night.

“It’s been steadily busy,” Ains said.

“There’s a lot of great feedback from the community. I bought the building in 2013. I worked on it three years, before it finally came to fruition,” he said.

“We want to be friends with Salisbury University. The SU population can walk here. We have corn hole out there. We have a few more games coming.  We’re thinking about maybe ping pong. We’ll have live entertainment in the pavilion area.

“Every day there has been an increase. Everybody has been really nice,” Ains said.

“People don’t have to go to Ocean City to have a fun place to hang out.”



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