Ginger Breneman: MIXX It Up with Two Sets of Twins
The eternal struggle of nature vs. nurture has taught us one thing for certain: Our parents do have some influence on our lives. Though we probably didn’t need an eternal struggle to figure that out, it is clear that without pressure from Ginger Breneman’s dad, (1) there would not be a MIXX restaurant in Rehoboth Beach and, (2) at this moment she would probably be parasailing high above the bay in Ocean City, Md.
Ginger grew up in the Annapolis, Md. area. Early employment included what she calls a “fun beach job” working for a parasailing outfit. As the season waned, however, Ginger’s father suggested that she should perhaps “get a real job.” Her business degree in finance and banking from Salisbury University apparently didn’t include a parasailing track, so she somewhat begrudgingly took a customer service position at a bank in Millsboro, De. She hated it. So back to the parasailing business, which was just fine as long as the season held out. But dad remained in the wings echoing those fateful words, “Get a real job.”
She landed a teller position at Susquehanna bank “…to get my father off my back!” But this time things were better. Her training and natural entrepreneurial instinct kicked in as she rapidly moved through the ranks to supervisor, to branch manager and eventually to Licensed Bank Employee. In that position, she was qualified to sell annuities, term life insurance and similar products for the bank. She stayed with Susquehanna for six-and-a-half years.
Ginger and her twin sister Ann came out at the same time. At around 20 years old, Ginger had established a relationship with her former basketball coach. On a visit to the now-closed Hung Jury bar in Washington, D.C., she was surprised to see many of the college women against whom she had competed. Ginger and her friends began to visit Rehoboth Beach and quickly discovered the iconic Frogg Pond. She likens her connection with what is now called The Pond to that of TV’s Cheers, “where everybody knows your name.” Her 21st birthday was celebrated there, and she describes it as her home away from home.
In 2002, the Frogg Pond was purchased by patent attorney Pete Borsari. The established crowd held their collective breath to see what this guy from Virginia was going to do to their beloved watering hole. The last thing Borsari wanted was to alienate the regulars, other than to change things up a bit to move away from Frogg Pond’s long-time reputation as a biker bar. And that was fine. Borsari was welcomed into the fold. (The Pond recently celebrated its 30th year in business.)
Ginger and Ann liked their “twin nights,” where the two of them would go out on the town just for fun. On one of these nights they ran across Pete and made fast friends. Such good friends, in fact, that he asked Ginger to come work for him. Unfamiliar with the finer points of mixology, she took her post behind the bar—on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend—armed only with a bit of last-minute advice: “If you’re not sure what they ordered, just make it pink!”
Ginger loved working for Pete, but in 2006 she moved to Dish! (formerly Dream Café) on Baltimore Ave., tending bar for chef/co-owner Riche Griffin and former server-turned-co-owner, Rocky. “I went from shots and beers to martinis and wine!” says Ginger, who purchased Rocky’s share of Dish! in 2008. A year later Pete bought out Riche. Pete and Ginger’s brand new MIXX opened on September 30, 2009.
One of Ginger’s close friends asked her if she would consider hiring her daughter, Courtney, who had moved here from North Carolina. “She needed a job, and I needed a hostess,” says Ginger. In July, 2010 Courtney Rice became the hostess at MIXX, and by December she and Ginger were an item. “Your mom’s gonna kill me!” In fact, Courtney has two mommies (not unlike Lesléa Newman’s Heather), and both of them love Ginger. “The Moms,” Ginger’s mom and both families get along great.
Wednesday nights at MIXX have quickly become the stuff of legend. “I really didn’t expect MIXX to be a ‘burger place’,” smiles Ginger, but on Wednesdays the specially priced burgers and martinis are certainly the pick hits. Long-time chef Dave Sauers (he’s also a twin!) started in Ocean City, eventually working as sous chef at Fusion in Rehoboth. Ginger’s skills behind the bar are now legendary, and her creative potions are known not only for their taste, but also for their names. The Hayden, the Michael, the Abigail, and the recently conceived Faytini (named after a local celebrity and author) are all hits.
“It’s all about relationships,” Ginger insists. “You treat people the way you want to be treated. I love coming to work. I think back on my days at the bank, and all I can say is, ‘ugh!’” Ginger and Courtney love paddleboarding and driving onto the beach at North Shores with a picnic basket and a grill. “My family is here, and my friends are here. I’m happy.”
Bob Yesbek is a Rehoboth Beach resident. Email Bob Yesbek.