The Story of How A Beaten Up Old Surfboard Led to a Career as the 'Fish Taco King' of Coastal Delaware
Thousands of people in and around the "Nation's Summer Capital" of Rehoboth Beach know Oldfather Group Realtor Aquiles Demerutis as the "Fish Taco Guy," the man who for years created mouth watering culinary creations from his popular and unique restaurant just off Route 1.
Then a hard to find offering at the Delaware beaches, those handmade fish tacos became quite the sensation for awhile. But the desire for more family time eventually won out, prompting Demerutis to close the shop permanently on the final day of 2018.
But how exactly did a man born in the city of Guadalajara, Mexico become the fish taco king of coastal Delaware in the first place? Would you believe it can all be traced back to a down on his luck Mexican man attempting to pay back a debt without any money?
Let us explain...
As a younger man, the future entrepreneur and fish taco king lived for a few years in the city of Cabo San Lucas, on the southern tip of Mexico's Baja Peninsula.
It was a wild and crazy time that included a job at the local airport and run-ins with more than a few famous people, including Sammy Hagar, Madonna, Arnold Schwarzenegger and comedian Paul Rodriguez.
Aquiles even once found himself as an extra on an episode of "Beverly Hills 90210" and several episodes of a show called "Land's End," which starred Fred Dryer of "Hunter" fame.
"They filmed that whole series in Cabo and for a while Fred Dryer was just another local," remembers Demerutis, who still resides today in Rehoboth Beach. "He was really nice and would buy us all drinks when we were at the bar. It was definitely a fun time."
Then one day, a man in debt offered to pay Aquiles's father back with something other than money. He didn't know it at the time, but that one crazy, desperate gesture would change his life forever.
Why? Well not because of the gesture itself, but what was included in the quid pro quo offer made to his father.
"Somebody owed my dad money and he decided he was going to pay him with what was really a pile of junk," remembers Demerutis. "And that's really what it was, but included in that pile was an old surfboard. I picked that out and I started surfing there in Cabo."
The surfing was great, with a youthful Demerutis sharing the waves with surfing legends like Rob Machado and Christian Fletcher. It turned into a daily activity, with swells available all year round in sunny Cabo.
Then one day in between riding the morning waves and watching Hagar ride around town in his "little dune buggy," it got even better.
A friend introduced Demerutis to the delicacy that is the fish taco. And a legend was born.
"I really only started eating fish tacos because of surfing. They weren't very well known back then, but I really liked them," he says. "When I went back to Guadalajara a few years later, I decided to open up a fish taco stand right there in the city."
The popularity of Aquiles's fish tacos really took off in his home town. It was something unique and different that hadn't really been done before and the locals devoured his creations with abandon.
But no matter how many tacos he sold during the week, Demerutis always looked forward to Fridays. Even more so during the Easter season, which was always the most lucrative time of year for the up and coming entrepreneur.
"Mexicans practice Lent on Fridays during that time of year, which means they don't eat meat," he says. "There were several other taco stands in the area, but I was the only one who was making tacos with fish and shrimp.
"I would sell 10 times as many tacos on Fridays during Lent for that reason. It was always my busiest time of the year, which was nice."
Demerutis sold his taco stand and moved to the United States in 1999 to be with his eventual wife, Heather, and they now have two teenage children. They relocated from Colorado to Rehoboth Beach a few years after their arrival in the U.S., where Heather worked a couple of summers as a teenager.
Not long after relocating to Delaware, Aquiles opened up "El Dorado," which became known around the area as the place to go for mouth watering fish tacos.
"People here didn't even know what fish tacos were at that time, but now even some of the fancier restaurants in the area include them on their menus," Demerutis recalls. "I didn't really have any secret, I just always used fresh fish and people seemed to like them."
The restaurant was a huge success, but what it didn't allow was much time for his wife and children. So Demerutis decided to close the restaurant a few years ago and eventually moved into real estate, thanks in part to a standing offer made by Oldfather Group Founder and CEO Dustin Oldfather.
"I would always see Dustin and he would tell me that I had a job in his group if I wanted to move into real estate," says Demerutis. "I really enjoy it even now. I'm not a top producer or anything but it does allow me to be home when the kids need to go to practice or do other things.
"I can even cook dinners at home now. I couldn't do that when I had the restaurant."
Aquiles Demerutis obtained his Delaware real estate license in July of 2019 and joined the Oldfather Group of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby's International Realty soon after.
To discuss your home selling or buying journey in coastal Delaware, contact Aquiles at 302-745-5119 or via email at [email protected]