Sydney’s swings with Southern flavor and soulful sounds

By Laura Walter
Posted 8/4/23

Live music “is the best music in the world,” says Elton Lewis. “You can have a bad day, but if you go home and play that right music, it’s it changes your mood. Music is like …

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Sydney’s swings with Southern flavor and soulful sounds


Live music “is the best music in the world,” says Elton Lewis. “You can have a bad day, but if you go home and play that right music, it’s it changes your mood. Music is like the answer to everything.”

That’s why the Lewis siblings opened a restaurant to make people happy, through music and food.

Sydney’s Restaurant & Lounge is located halfway between Milton and Lewes in the Paynter’s Mill housing development.

The cuisine is American with a southern flair. The entertainment calendar is packed. The anticipation is high on a Friday night as a Prince tribute band takes the stage.

People often fill the dance floor at Sydney’s, encouraged by the performers and by their own enthusiasm. The restaurant has an open floor plan, up to the second-floor balcony, so there’s room to get up close and personal, or hang back at your table or bar.

Performances have included R&B, rock, gospel and more, hailing from Delaware and major surrounding cities. Shows range from Sunday jazz brunch to late-night comedy acts. It’s dinner and a show.

Tonight, everyone seems to be eating fried chicken, so I order the four-piece. The chicken is brined for a few days, coated in buttermilk and then fried and finished to order. The drizzle of honey glaze is a surprise on that first crispy bite, and everyone in the know is nodding their heads, “yes.” Southern cooking always calls for collard greens, and they have a slight spicy finish, which is tempered by a side of mashed potatoes.

Meanwhile, the shrimp and grits have a smoothness of flavor throughout the seafood, bacon and tomato blend.

This is a place where friends and couples swap bites from each other’s plates. Having missed out the homemade banana pudding, another fan favorite, we order a fudge-like peanut butter pie with two cups of coffee, grooving in our seats between bites of dessert.

That’s because tonight’s band is a Tribute to Prince featuring Cymone Lovett. He and his six-piece band are here to jam, and this is my chance to learn more about Prince’s music—on a Friday night surrounded by other music lovers, as his sultry falsetto fills the air.

And the audience is here for a show. Many are casual in summer wear and sandals, but plenty are dressed for a “Prince” concert, looking sharp in sparkly dresses, and so dedicated to the Prince’s musical legacy, they sing along to every word. Invited to share the mic, one woman even slides the microphone away from Lovett for a minute, expertly singing a verse of “Adore” while the headliner laughs and enjoys a short water break. Talk about a crowd-pleaser.

Sydney’s aims to be family friendly, too. They host a monthly youth music exhibition and are proud to see local kids grow from shy adolescents to skilled young performers “It’s amazing … it’s a beautiful thing,” said Elton Lewis.

Tucked just off of Route 1, Sydney’s is a destination near, but not within the chaos of the coastal zones. It’s nice for people “looking to avoid getting sucked into the beach scene,” said Anthony Lewis. “It’s a relaxed and comfortable environment and … our food is authentic.”

The brothers had a similar venture once in Arlington, Va., and fate has brought them back together in this Sussex County venture, near their hometown. Sisters Belinda Waples and Patricia Lewis, plus a brother-in-law, are all chipping in. The Lewis family are Cape Henlopen High School graduates and have lived entire lives and careers before creating Sydney’s.

Find Sydney’s Restaurant & Lounge at 16388 Samuel Paynter Blvd. in Milton, Del., and online at The restaurant is open Wednesdays to Sundays.

Bay to the Beach: Byways is a regular column in which we explore interesting places and projects on the Delmarva Peninsula. Videos and more photos at

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