In the 1990s, when people wanted to dine well and enjoy live music in Rehoboth, they headed to Sydney's Jazz & Blues Restaurant, where owner Sydney Arzt showcased first-class talent and tasty Creole dishes.
Now, history is about to repeat itself.
Cuvée Ray Wine Bar and Restaurant is now under construction in the same building that once housed Sydney's, and Arzt will book live music when the restaurant opens.
"There's such a strong connection between wine and music," said Ray Kurz, who owns the restaurant with his wife Debbie. "You'll often see wine described as harmonious or, like a symphony, that it's complicated. It has low notes and high notes."
It was serendipitous that Cuvée Ray is in Sydney's old space, he said. He was thrilled to bring Arzt on board. "She has a solid reputation for spotting talent, and we trust her judgment," he said.
Arzt broke new ground in the late 1980s and 1990s when she put jazz-and-blues acts in a full-service Rehoboth restaurant. Her annual Jazz Jams funded a scholarship in the name of Larry "Scotty" Scott, a legendary local performer. She is also a founder of the Rehoboth Beach Jazz Festival, a successful event for nearly three decades. Sydney's closed in 2006, but Arzt continued to book music for local venues. She is also the former executive director of the Schwartz Center for the Arts in Dover.
She is excited to come full circle. "My renewed association to the location where I spent 20 years is an astounding turn of events," she said. "It allows me to combine two of my life passions: music and wine."
Cuvée Ray will feature entertainment during happy hours on Thursdays, when the chef will create a special menu that complements the artist's style.
Guests will also be able to enjoy light acoustic rock and pop after the dinner service on Saturday night. "We'll feature some of the area's finest guitarists and vocalists," Arzt said. The Jazz Brunch on Sundays will also showcase performers, such as the new 2nd Time Around jazz organ trio on Sunday, July 1. The renovated space will include a wine room that can seat up to 12. The restaurant will seat 100 guests when complete. There is also an intimate patio.
Expect the same soulfulness and dedication to good times of the Sydney's days, Arzt said.
"Ray and his wife Debbie have a vision that will put a new stamp of joy on our community," she said. "I am very pleased to participate."
For updates on Cuvée Ray, go to www.cuveeray.com.