Remembering Darius

Darius Mansoory’s first restaurant in Wilmington was Knuckleheads Saloon in the late 1980s. He’d be the first to tell you that it was aptly named; Darius knew little about running a restaurant in those days.

So, after a few years he sold the place, left town for nearly a half-decade, and returned to repurchase the same building – 1206 Washington St. – at sheriff’s sale. In 1997, the location was reborn as the Washington Street Ale House. Darius had, indeed, learned quite a bit about running a restaurant by then.

The Ale House, which is still going strong after nearly 20 years, was the foundation for Darius’ Cherry Tree Hospitality Group. Mikimotos Asian Grill followed. Then Presto Coffee Bar & Bistro and The Marashino Room – all three located along Washington Street in Wilmington. A few years ago, he expanded his restaurant holdings to Rehoboth Beach with Stingray Sushi Bar & Asian Latina Grill. The former “knucklehead” had become quite the restaurateur.

“When I opened up, I knew it all. I was the best,” Darius told Out & About during a 2012 interview for the Ale House’s 15-year anniversary. “And then the next year went by. I looked at me in the previous year, and I said, ‘Oh, that guy probably didn’t know anything. I know it all now.’ And then the next year goes by, and I look back at myself the year before and say, ‘That guy didn’t know anything.’ Where does it end? I don’t think it’s gonna.”

Unfortunately, it ended much too soon for Darius; he died Dec. 31 of an apparent heart attack while vacationing in Cuba. He was 52.

I knew Darius for all 28 years of this magazine’s existence; saw his shortcomings; was amazed by his resilience; admired his creative intelligence. Darius lived big and had a heart even bigger. The size of his heart is what I’ll remember most.

Let’s hope Darius’ restaurants continue to operate. It would be a fitting tribute.

From the Publisher: Just a Thought

Welcome to our annual Worth Trying issue. We introduced this theme back in January 2011 and are pleased that it continues to resonate. Throughout the year, each issue of Out & About offers suggestions we consider worthy of your time. Just look for the Worth Trying page in our Start section.

Remember, this is not a “Best Of….” list. The suggestions on the pages that follow are personal recommendations from our staff and contributors. These are things we’ve experienced, things we’d recommend to a friend. Try them for yourself and let us know if you agree. While you’re at it, let us know of things you feel are worth trying. We’ll give them a shot and maybe even share them with your fellow readers.

Perhaps you have already noticed, but in this issue we also debut a new logo for Out & About, not an insignificant occurrence in our world. This is only the fourth logo modification in our 28-year history. In this year of significant change, it just felt like good timing.

Indeed, change is in the air for 2017. In addition to the election of Donald Trump as president, we have a new governor, a new executive for New Castle County, and a new mayor for Wilmington. I encourage you to read Larry Nagengast’s insightful interview with Mike Purzycki on page 16. Wilmington’s new mayor is nothing if not thoughtful.

Thoughtful. Good word. Characterized by careful, reasoned thinking, say the folks at Merriam-Webster. I think most would agree that thoughtfulness is a characteristic we should demand more of in our public discourse, more of in our leadership.

Clever slogans may get the juices flowing, but real solutions aren’t found on a bumper sticker. There are no silver bullets; no eureka panaceas. To proclaim that remedies are as simple as black and white, to suggest all that is needed is bravado is not just disingenuous, it’s dangerous.

Shame on those who make such promises. Shame on us if we buy into them.

So, while we must demand more thoughtful solutions from leadership, it’s imperative to be equally thoughtful in our responses. That requires reading beyond headlines, arming ourselves with facts, and listening to the counter argument—without interrupting.

It’s easy to read, watch and listen to those who reinforce our view of the world. But we don’t just enjoy freedom of speech in this country, we enjoy freedom of thought. And, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, “An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy.”

So, in the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, let’s be more thoughtful in 2017. Only Twitter limits your thinking to 140 characters.