NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP >> It’s been a challenging three months for first time restaurateurs and business partners, Terry and Rick Darby.
Just weeks after opening Solstice Newtown and fulfilling a long time dream as father and son, they were forced to close their doors by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s definitely been a challenging time for everyone, especially restaurant owners, and this being our first restaurant project it was scary,” said Rick. “However, we are fortunate to be partners with Captivate Hospitality Group who are experts in this business and have helped to guide us through the process from the operations side.”
Shortly after closing due to COVID-19 restrictions, they reopened Solstice for takeout and delivery and launched a GoFundMe page to raise funds to provide meals for local frontline and hospital workers.
“That enabled us to continue serving our community while keeping our staff employed over the last few weeks as we wait for the green light to reopen,” said Rick.
With Fathers Day coming up this weekend and graduations taking place, Solstice has added dessert cookie boxes and grill-at-home steak kits to its unique offerings. The kits come with ready to heat sides for that special dad.
As for Terry and Rick, they're looking forward to celebrating their first Father’s Day together as business partners with a traditional family barbecue and looking forward to the day they can reopen Solstice to the public.
Opening a restaurant just as COVID-19 hit was an unexpected turn of events but it’s made their family and desire to see their restaurant succeed stronger than ever.
“Working as father and son has been a true blessing,” said Rick. “With my father's business expertise in Wall Street/Investment Banking, and my experience in the restaurant industry, it was a perfect fit! I help run the day to day operations of the restaurant, whereas my father handles the financial aspects of the business.”
Adds Terry, “I am very proud of him for undertaking this responsibility and quickly learning the ropes of restaurant management. I also followed his career in New York and patronized the restaurants where he worked and was very impressed by his work ethic, so I am sure he will do well in this new setting.
“I remember as he was growing up how proud I was of the way he used his musical and artistic talents, even if I did not tell him this very often. I will always support him with love and counsel and wish him all the best!”
The feeling is mutual.
Rick said he has always admired his father's accomplishments.
“Being able to work with my father has given me more confidence and wisdom to accomplish the task at hand," said Rick. "I believe having that family bond in a business is a true advantage, and I am very proud to be a local family-owned business in beautiful Bucks County!”
Rick said he has always had a passion for the hospitality and food and beverage industries.
“Before I met my wife, settled down and had two amazing boys, I lived in New York City where I worked with a variety of high-end restaurant and bar concepts. I was very fortunate to be able to work on the opening teams for three of those restaurant concepts. Gaining that level of high-end training and expertise was crucial for my success in the industry.
“My father had always had the idea to open a family owned restaurant, but being young and wanting to be independent, I was hesitant,” he said. “But after moving back home and starting a family, I felt the time was right. I wanted to be able to provide that same level of training and expertise to my future employees, but being back home, I didn’t have the same resources I had in New York City. That prompted me to engage Captivate Hospitality Group to help us develop a concept that would serve the local Bucks County community and continue to support the day to day operations of the restaurant.
“My mom is also a big foodie, and level 1 sommelier, so she was excited about the idea of having a family restaurant close to home that we could all be a part of,” adds Rick.
Looking ahead to reopening Solstice in a new COVID-19 world, Terry said “as with everything we do as a family and a business, we will continue to remain positive, get creative and listen to the guidelines and experts and adjust our approach accordingly.
“Through the pandemic, the Bucks County community has shown its resiliency and willingness to adapt, so we are hopeful for the future of Solstice,” he said. “We are grateful for our friends and guests who continue to show their support in so many ways.”