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Goolee’s Grille

/ Updated on October 14, 2017
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For years, that sunny corner at First and Wilmington was called the Kannery, where mom and the boys dished up OK subs, burgers and sandwiches. That is, of course, until George and Soula Vrentzos and their daughter Irene opened the Corner Grille in that very same spot. Time marches on, and now that spot is presided over by George “Goolee” Stakias who sold his popular breakfast/lunch spot in Ocean City to bring his signature cooking to Rehoboth Beach.

So many of these stories start out with how a restaurant owner just wanted a beach house or a quiet getaway. Then one thing leads to another (it always does), and the next thing y’know they’re slingin’ hash full-time here at the beach. Such is the story behind Goolee’s Grille, formerly in Ocean City, Md. and now in Rehoboth Beach. Owner George Stakias worked for Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore as a Greek interpreter and patient representative. In 2003, he rewarded himself for his accomplishments by buying a little beach house. But food service has a way of running in families, and George’s dad (for 36 years the owner of the Penn Restaurant on Pratt St. in downtown Baltimore) knew that his son would be good at it.

The beach is all about breakfast (just look at the Sunday morning lines at Crystal or Robin Hood), and Goolee’s has that important vacation indulgence covered. The Pappa’s Breakfast Special is the “Grand Slam” of First & Wilmington. Two fluffy pancakes, two eggs, and two — count ’em, 2 — meats with home fries, toast and jelly. Add a buck, and Goolee will sub four (yup, 4) pieces of his signature French Toast for the pancakes.

UPDATE: Goolee’s now has a liquor license and offers breakfast/brunch specialty drinks like mimosas, bloody marys and Irish coffees. A Sunday morning brunch just a block from the Atlantic — with a spicy bloody appears to be just what the doctor ordered. Now back to the program already in progress:

Mamma is a little more dainty, and the Mamma’s Breakfast Special is a bit lighter, without the home fries and toast. But you can fork over another buck and still get those 4 tasty chunks of French Toast. Re-reading the previous sentence, I can’t believe I used the word “lighter.”

On a recent visit I had the Gyro Supreme Omelet. George (aka Goolee, though you probably figured that out by now) sautées chunks of gyro meat with tomatoes, folds them into an omelet and sprinkles it all with Greek feta cheese. I’m not sure if I prefer the gyro meat in chunks or the more traditional thin slices, but it’s high quality and works nicely with the feta. The Greek omelet is particularly good, in that the moisture in the cheese keeps the omelet more moist and fluffy than some of the others.

George is a pretty self-effacing guy (rare in this business), and when I complimented his Pancake Platter, he said, “Oh, it’s just plain ol’ pancake mix.” Well, there’s more to cooking than just the mix! Goolee keeps the grill very hot, so when that “just plain ol'” batter hits the surface, it puffs up into a moist, yeasty cake with a dark and slightly crispy exterior. They were quite good. So don’t believe him when he says something’s “just plain ol’.” It’s all in the cookin’, I tell ya.

Another dish he’s proud of is his Creamed Chipped Beef. This long-time Ocean City favorite is served over crispy Texas Toast. Though he starts with a prepared base, he adds some secret ingredients to make it his own. Of course, he wouldn’t tell me what he does, but I suspect that dad might have something to do with it. It’s quite good over top of the thick toast.

The Stuffed French Toast is layered with cream cheese, his own strawberry filling and topped with whipped cream. It starts out as that thick Texas Toast, so it is quite a production — especially after some time on that hot grill. But George is most proud of a special dish he is bringing to the beach: Coconut french toast. It starts with Texas toast. Need I say more?

It’s pretty much common knowledge among local restaurateurs that sunny days keep most beach resorts from having overwhelming crowds for lunch. Breakfast and dinner rule the schedule there, and lunch ends up as quick bites spirited off the boardwalk and onto the beach. In OC, George had a limited lunch menu, including basic appetizer favorites like jalapeno poppers, chicken tenders and, of course, buffalo wings. Mains include burgers, BLTs, a mega Greek salad, a cheesesteak and his very popular gyro sandwich. Steamed shrimp served over steamed onions rounds out the lunch menu. Lots of Old Bay accompanies the dish. I assume as he settles here in Rehoboth that many of those items will reappear on the menu.

By the way, you might be wondering why a nice guy like George is called “Goolee.” I wondered, and actually called him back after my last visit. The Greek name for “George” is Giorgos, roughly pronounced “yior-gos or affectionately, “yior-gee.” One of the family kids simply couldn’t wrap her tiny mouth around the word, and it came out “Goolee.” George liked it and it stuck.

Goolee’s Grille is open 7 days in-season from 7am ’til 3pm. Some customers still remember Rula, George’s mom, who handled the grill at the Ocean City location for their first three years in business. George finally released mom from her servitude, but mom and dad do visit – in fact they were helping Goolee handle his full house on New Year’s Day 2014. A great way to start the year!

Goolee’s Grille is at 11 South First St., at Wilmington Avenue in Rehoboth Beach, to the left of The Pond. They are extremely kid-friendly, but do give ’em a call in the off-season, as they might be closed on some weekdays.

Give ’em a call, especially in the shoulder seasons (302) 227-7653. (B., L.). Price range, Inexpensive -.

Off-season Specials & Hours

Specials & Moods change quickly. Always call a restaurant first.

pp = per person.
BOGO = buy one, get one.
Bloody = bloody mary.
domestics = American-made beers (e.g., Bud).
imports = foreign beers (e.g., Heineken).
Rails = non call-brand alcohol.
Prix Fixe = one set price.
Mains = entrees.
Margs = margaritas.
Chix = chicken.
AYCE = all you can eat.
Lite = Miller Lite
drafts = draught beer.
Early Birds = arrive before a certain time.
Apps = Appetizers.
bottles = beer in a bottle.
à la carte = order off the menu (no prix fixe).
crafts = micro/artisanal brews (e.g., Old Leghumper Lager)

11 S. First St.
(302) 227-7653

Sunday
Open 8-2
And enjoy a mimosa or bloody mary with your breakfast!
Monday
Open 8-2
Free coffee with breakfast platter!
Tuesday
Open 8-2
And enjoy a mimosa or bloody mary with your breakfast!
Wednesday
Open 8-2
And enjoy a mimosa or bloody mary with your breakfast!
Thursday
Open 8-2
And enjoy a mimosa or bloody mary with your breakfast!
Friday
Open 8-2
And enjoy a mimosa or bloody mary with your breakfast!
Saturday
Open 8-2
And enjoy a mimosa or bloody mary with your breakfast!
The Rehoboth Foodie

About the Author

"My goal is to promote Rehoboth Beach dining while remaining honest and impartial. I don’t gush unless a place deserves it, and I don’t pull punches, either. With so many good places to eat around here, it just doesn’t make sense to waste the calories — or the money — on anything less." View all articles written by The Rehoboth Foodie

Add Your Comment
  1. Jean says:

    I have been pestering my husband to try Goolee’s for breakfast. He refused to go in season so last week he agreed to go. I was really excited because this place gets such great reviews. Well were we disappointed. We both had a combo platter, eggs, French toast, bacon and sausage. The bacon tasted old, the sausage looked like the ready cooked brown and serve you buy at the grocery store and the French toast was mediocre at best. We will not be back.

  2. Hosting says:

    Slow service and small portions drop Goolees to the bottom of my Rehoboth brunch rankings. Server was nice enough but never asked how are food was. I ordered the healthy egg white omelette was so disappointingly tiny. Taste was fine but come on! Healthy doesn t mean small – it means low fat and high protein.

  3. Terry and Mary says:

    Had breakfast there the other day and it was very good. Husband had loaded omelet (and it WAS), I had ham and cheese (Very tasty). The home fired potatoes were very tasty. Enjoyed it very much! Would definitely go there again.

  4. Bill & Laura B Bill & Laura B says:

    We had a nice breakfast with our kids at Goolies last weekend. Service was great! The hotcakes are definitely good, but we agree with the other comments here that the omelets are overcooked. We wish they were more moist. We hope thats because they just opened and we will go back, at least for the hotcakes and french toast!

  5. T&T T&T says:

    We love the pancakes and the french toast, but we have to admit that the omelets are dry and overcooked. We do love the generous coffee cups and the casual service, however.
    They need to put out an omelet that is more moist and not browned.
    But we ARE going back.

  6. Jen says:

    I have to disagree. We went on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. There were 9 of us, 5 were children, it was crowded, but not packed and crazy. The food was just ok (french toast was mediocre, omelets were over cooked and browned) and the service was a bit casual, even for the diner atmosphere. I wouldn’t recommend it to friends or family. I did like that they serve their coffee in larger cups than most diners.

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