Rehoboth’s Dolle’s to maneuver to new location, with or with out iconic signal – Delaware State Information
The last day Dolle’s will be selling taffy, caramel corn and fudge from its original location at 1 Rehoboth Ave. will be Jan. 31, although ower Tom Ibach said the sign may come down before then. (Delaware State News file photo)
REHOBOTH BEACH — Dolle’s Candyland and its iconic orange sign have been an integral part of Rehoboth Beach’s boardwalk for decades.
But due to a rent increase and unfavorable lease terms, at the end of January, the store, which opened in 1927, will move down the street.
The fate of the landmark sign, however, is still up in the air.
“It’s sort of one of those icons,” Dolle’s owner Tom Ibach said of the oversized orange sign, which features the store name in cursive and notes that its signature saltwater taffy is available below.
“I think a lot of people use it as a meeting point,” Mr. Ibach said. “It’s something that identifies Rehoboth. You think about Rehoboth, and you think about the orange sign on top of the Dolle’s building.”
He said more people are upset about potentially missing the sign than losing the historic Dolle’s location at the corner of the boardwalk and Rehoboth Avenue.
“I think a lot more people are concerned about the sign and what the landscape of Rehoboth looks like more than anything else,” Mr. Ibach said.
Adrianna Kaleia, the manager of The Ice Cream Store on the opposite side of Rehoboth Avenue, said she is in that boat.
“I think it’s kind of sad,” she said of the sign’s impending removal. “I’ve always lived around here. It’s been here since I was a kid, and it’s kind of a signature trademark of Rehoboth.”
Ms. Kaleia said the sign “will be missed by a lot of people,” both tourists and locals alike.
Mr. Ibach said Dolle’s will be consolidated with his other store, Ibach’s Candy by the Sea, which will take on the Dolle’s name.
“We’re working with the city in order to have the sign moved down to the Ibach’s location at 9 Rehoboth Ave., which is about 50 feet away,” Mr. Ibach said.
But he said moving the sign is not as simple as getting a crane and remounting each letter at the new location.
“The sign is an illegal sign,” per Rehoboth’s modern city code, Mr. Ibach said. “It’s grandfathered in. You can’t put signs like that up again.”
But given the sign’s deep significance to the community, he has been in touch with the city about making an exception.
“If the city’s nice enough to try to find a way to keep the sign, I’ll take care of funding it,” Mr. Ibach said of the move.
Ms. Kaleia couldn’t imagine the city putting up much resistance given the sign’s iconic status.
“It’s very noticeable, and it’s probably something everyone loves, so I don’t think it will be too much of an issue,” she said.
But she noted that the image could be less helpful for way-finding at its new potential home.
“Considering that it’s always been where it has been, I think it will definitely be a big change for everybody that visits.” Ms. Kaleia said.
A sizable rent increase and changes to the terms of his lease are what led Mr. Ibach to jettison the original Dolle’s property.
“The new lease that was proposed to us was just not economically feasible,” he said. “There was a huge increase in the rent, as well as having other responsibilities for the property that just cost too much money.”
He said the new lease would make him “responsible for taking care of the entire building as if I was the owner. That’s what it boils down to.”
Mr. Ibach said he didn’t want to be in charge of that given the building’s advanced age and deteriorating condition.
“This is an old building (from) 1962. There’s structural problems like cracking in the cinder blocks and stuff like that, so I don’t really want to be responsible for that,” he said, “as well as paying an increase in rent.”
Dolle’s has existed at 1 Rehoboth Ave. since 1927, when Mr. Ibach’s grandfather, Thomas Pachides, opened the location with his business partner, Rudolph Dolle.
“The original store that was built in 1927 was destroyed in the great March storm of 1962. It was rebuilt and opened in July that year,” Mr. Ibach said.
That was when the iconic sign made its debut, he said. But this is not the iteration of the sign that currently exists. About two decades ago, Mr. Ibach said the sign had to be fully replaced after a series of strong winter storms.
In addition to consolidating his retail operations downtown, Mr. Ibach said he hopes to move his manufacturing operation onto Del. 1, near Steamboat Landing Road. Currently, his products are created at Beach Treats, on the boardwalk just north of Dolle’s.
“The production facility is not completed yet. Our last aspect is working with (the Delaware Department of Transportation),” he said.
“We have approval for a production facility; however, we wanted to have a small retail shop along with it, and DelDOT is kind of hanging us up on that, so we’re working with an attorney right now to see if we can get that done,” Mr. Ibach said.
“If it doesn’t go through, then we’re just going to have production out there and will probably start construction of that sometime next year,” he said.
Like with the original Dolle’s retail location on the boardwalk, Mr. Ibach said high rent is pushing the production location away.
“This is just not an area for production,” he said. “We don’t want to have production in a really high-rent district. We want to be able to use the space for retail.”
While Mr. Ibach is sure these moves are sound from a business perspective, it does sadden him to be giving up the historic location where he used to work every summer as a child.
“It’s hard because I kind of grew up here,” he said. “You have the attachment because my family was here. My grandparents lived upstairs because that’s the way they did things back then.”
The last day Dolle’s will be selling taffy, caramel corn and fudge from its original location at 1 Rehoboth Ave. will be Jan. 31, although Mr. Ibach said the sign may come down before then.