Milford artist paints mural at new restaurant

MILFORD — Diners at a soon-to-be opened restaurant in Dover Downs will get a nice view thanks to Milford resident Nadia Zychal.

The artist has put months into creating a mural designed especially for the Pearl Oyster Grill featuring “a full seafood menu, featuring fresh oysters, Maine lobster tail, Alaskan king crab legs, shrimp platters and crab cakes,” according to the Dover Downs website.

Much like its menu, the mural had to reflect the ocean-theme.

“The idea was to brighten up the place. There was a restaurant in here before, but it wasn’t well lit and all. But this restaurant is called the Pearl Oyster Grill, hence the shellfish and sea life kind of theme. It’s going to help bring a new vibe and light to the room,” Ms. Zychal said.

The mural includes sea stars, shells, coral reefs and, of course, oysters and pearls.

Ms. Zychal was asked by Interior Designer Ann Camper to create a sketch to be presented to a board of decision makers who would approve, or disapprove, of the design. They loved it, she said.

A scale rendering was then created, and the waiting began — Ms. Zychal couldn’t begin painting her mural until the wall was constructed inside the restaurant.

The painting itself will take upwards of four weeks to complete, during which she works from about 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. at the relatively quiet location with coffee in hand.

“This is exciting for me because I love this kind of work. But, also, I was hoping to expand my business here. Most of my clientele is in Philadelphia, two hours or more away,” she said.

Through her business, Nadia Zychal Decorative Painting and Art, she creates a variety of art pieces aside from larger-scale murals such as furniture, lamps, ornate pieces and has produced the poster Roaring 20s Lawn Party to be auctioned off during the event.

“With artwork, I think it’s best to be somewhat eclectic if you don’t want to starve,” she joked.

A 1989 graduate from the Philadelphia University of Art with a degree in illustrations, Ms. Zychal touts a long line of artists from her past.

“It’s something I have always loved to do as a child. There were no questions as to what I would be doing all my life, it was just honing my skills and making sure I could make a living. I was also surrounded by artists,” she said. “My uncle was an artist. My sister went to art school. My grandma painted and dabbled in art. She had pieces all over. . . My granddad created artwork for the Army, pamphlets, tole trays and such. It was a no-brainer.”

Once she graduated from college, she found a 9-5 job in the carpeting industry, much to her surprise. That led her to come into contact with interior designers who would simply ask: “Do you do murals?”

Why, yes, she could. At first, murals would be just another gig on the side for Ms. Zychal. Eventually, however, she turned her artwork into her own business.

“It’s what I loved to do. There’s endless variety and endless challenges. Each project is unique,” she said.

Milford is now home to Ms. Zychal and husband Craig, after moving here from Cherry Hill, N.J.

“I think for a small town, it’s incredibly vibrant. I think the art scene will grow with the town. Marcia’s gallery is superb. It’s nice that there’s classes for all people of all ages and skill levels at the art league,” she said. “It’s kind of amazing, actually, for a small town to have such opportunities for visual and performing arts like we do in Milford.

“I came from the suburbs of more than 70,000 people. I think little old Milford does life better. Coming here is a blessed relief. I think the reduction in stress has allowed room for more creativity. It gives you space to breathe.”

Ms. Zychal can be reached online at, by email at or phone at 609-314-7274.

Jennifer Antonik can be reached at

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