Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: How Danny Perez’s Multi-Faceted Career Led Him to Open a Popular Eatery in the Heart of His Adopted Hometown

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: How Danny Perez’s Multi-Faceted Career Led Him to Open a Popular Eatery in the Heart of His Adopted Hometown
Topics Diversity, Equity and InclusionSBA LendingSmall Business LendingSuccess Stories

As a longtime business owner in Milford, Delaware, Danny Perez has seen and experienced the community’s growth and opportunity since moving his family and tax management business to the area in 1999.

“I actually learned about the secret of Delaware’s beauty in August 1972 when I was in the U.S. Armed Services,” says Danny. “We had a weekend leave and were stationed in Virginia and wanted to go to the beach. But the drives to Virginia Beach and North Carolina were too long to enjoy some R&R without driving 10 hours each way. We pulled out a map and figured that Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was only 5 hours away.”

And so began a lifelong appreciation for Delaware’s beaches and nearby communities.

Customers visiting the River Lights Café tent at a local event.After leaving the service and finishing college, Danny began his career as a tax professional in northern Virginia. As his career grew, occasional visits to Delaware started an itch to relocate to the state that he was finally able to scratch.

“I kept working as a tax professional in Virginia but really wanted to move to Delaware, so we picked up and went for it.”

Danny opened his tax management business in Milford while also running a Spanish-language radio station in Georgetown, Delaware for seven years. “The growing Hispanic community in southern Delaware needed a tax resource as well as a source of information and entertainment, and I am proud to have had a role in both of those areas,” says Danny.

“Ultimately, I ended up owning the property and buildings for my tax business, but the property next door was in a state of flux with business tenants coming and going. I was looking to do something with the property that would be lasting and be a positive addition to the physical location and business community.”

Danny’s fiancé suggested opening a restaurant, and River Lights Café was born.

“We didn’t want something huge, with bustling dinner hours. Our goal was to create an easygoing experience for customers to come in for breakfast and lunch.”

Nestled on the quiet banks of the Mispillion River in downtown Milford, River Lights Café offers an indoor or outdoor dining experience featuring a delicious variety of breakfast and lunch favorites.

Employees at the River Lights Café tent at a local event.“River Lights Café has been open for three years now, and we truly enjoy seeing our friends and neighbors throughout the community visit us,” says Danny, whose son manages the day-to-day operations of the café.

Danny first encountered WSFS Bank when a couple of Associates from the Millsboro, Delaware banking office visited him. Liking the idea of working with a local community bank, Danny’s relationship has grown from opening a business checking account to securing a small loan and a line of credit when his business needs, such as opening River Lights Café, called for additional funding.

“When it came time to buy the property that eventually would become River Lights Café, Margie Crouch from WSFS helped us get to the finish line,” says Danny. “She’s a true professional and has always been accessible and helpful for us.”

As his presence in the Milford community has grown over the years, Danny has stayed true to his roots, both as a Hispanic community member and business owner.

“I’ve always believed America truly is a land of opportunity, but you have to go out there and get it. There are so many young, Hispanic consumers and members of the business community in our area. They have tremendous potential and spending power to help spur our economy and grow our community for years to come.”

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