Bob Yesbek: It’s about Music and Food
Rehoboth Beach resident Bob Yesbek had an affinity for music very early in life. By age 12 he had started a mini recording studio in his bedroom, and during high school in the mid-60s, his suburban Washington, D.C. studio grew steadily in popularity among the local musicians.
While most students at the University of Maryland were hanging out on the quad catching a few rays between classes, Bob was already well on his path to becoming a successful entrepreneur. He majored in zoology, a typical course to medical school. He also played full-time in a popular band (even commuting for three years to a rock ‘n’ roll club in Ocean City). But every other free moment was spent at his increasingly busy recording studio. In the early ‘70s, Bob rented the second floor of a shopping center, and that was the beginning of Omega Recording Studios, considered at the time to be state-of-the-art. Because of Omega’s proximity to Washington, D.C., it quickly became the studio of choice for major ad agencies, their commercials and film tracks.
Bob was at a crossroads by the time he finished college. He now had the “real world” responsibility of running his successful business, but still held the desire to go to medical school. He started his post-graduate studies in the early 70s, but a year into medical school he made the significant business decision to move Omega into a space five times bigger than the previous location. It was there that Bob engineered the original “The Hustle,” as well as Cheech and Chong’s album, “Big Bambu.” All the while, he was still in medical school and still in his band, which was now a full-time jazz/rock duo. In his second year of school Bob realized that his dream of becoming a doctor was fading in the glow of the successful recording business, so he chose to graduate with a Master’s degree.
As an adjunct professor teaching Audio Technology at The American University in the mid-‘70s, Bob decided to open his own school, the Omega Studios’ School of Applied Recording Arts and Sciences. At the same time, he made his first foray into the restaurant world, becoming a business partner in an Italian deli and catering operation. He also met his first serious boyfriend, a relationship that lasted almost a decade. Oh, and he still continued to play nightly in his jazz band.
Bob saw that the landscape of the recording industry was changing, and seized the opportunity to leverage the studio by expanding into radio broadcasting. He purchased a station in Florida, and was in the process of building a second station near Mobile, AL when he opportunistically chose to sell it even before it hit the airwaves.
By the early ‘80s he had purchased two additional recording studios, folding the equipment and clientele into Omega. The studio expanded again, this time to a large building in Rockville, MD; designed to handle multiple clients at the same time, plus room for the school, which by now was nationally accredited. Omega continued to shine. Clients included such names as The Pointer Sisters, Barbra Streisand, Prince, the National Symphony, Bob Hope, Elton John, Greg Karukas, Marvin Hamlisch, Bernadette Peters, Donna Summer, Barry Manilow, and even Howard Stern. Life was busy, even by Bob’s standards.
Bob did manage to have a personal life, however. Shortly after opening the new studio in 1985, he met the love of his life, the boyish-looking Michael Hurd. He knew it was time to build a life with Michael. Bob sold Omega in 1992, staying on as Director of the school and occasionally engineering sessions for clients who insisted on his personal touch. He also returned to one of his other passions in life—food. Bob became a partner in Fleetwood’s, a supper club in Alexandria, VA spearheaded by drummer Mick Fleetwood. He stayed involved in that venture until he became a full-time restaurateur himself, opening Ten Star Fire Company restaurant in Bethesda, MD. Bob was in heaven running the upscale hickory-pit BBQ place, but admits it was more work than all the other things he had ever done in his lifetime.
In the late-90s, Bob and Michael bought a house in Bethany Beach, escaping there every weekend. The couple knew that living near the water was their ultimate goal, so Bob closed the restaurant, rather than expand into a second location (which was already on the drawing board). Michael, now a Ph.D., split his time between his busy psychotherapy practice in Chevy Chase and the one he opened in Ocean View. Eventually, his office at the beach became so busy that the couple took the final step: They sold their Maryland home and moved full-time to Bethany. However, it was immediately obvious that Rehoboth Beach was really the place to be—closer to their friends (and the restaurants)—so they moved here in 2006.
Clearly not one for sitting idle, Bob has become involved in the Rehoboth community. He’s a volunteer for Celebrity Chefs’ Beach Brunch, as well as the President of his homeowners’ association. He works part-time at Coco & Company, still consults to studios and schools, and even writes an occasional column for various publications.
Every time I’m with Bob, I can see the wheels churning. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one day soon I have the opportunity to listen to The Yesbek Jazz Duo, or sample award-winning barbecue ribs at Bob’s next fun venture in life. Only this time, we’ll all be lucky enough that whatever he does, it will be here at the beach.
Cassandra Toroian can be reached at Cassandra@BellRockCapital.com.