(Jan. 2, 2015) Many businesses celebrated milestone years in Ocean City during 2014 including Phillips Seafood, Dumser’s Dairyland, Cork Bar and DeVito’s Deli.
A number of others made renovations or additions including BJ’s on the Water, Fat Daddy’s, Bahia Marina, Higgins on 31st Street and Harpoon Hanna’s in Fenwick Island.
A few others expanded and the vape craze brought multiple stores into Ocean City seemingly overnight. Seeing Ocean City staples, Donald’s Duck Shoppe close its doors after 38 years and Fresco’s closing its 83rd Street venue after 14 years brought changes to Ocean City.
Here are some of the resort’s 2014 business highlights:
• After closing its doors for nearly a month, BJ’s on the Water reopened at the end of January. The 34 year-old restaurant remained true to its saloon style, but added a slew of new touches to bring it into 2014. Many of the “new” pieces were actually repurposed parts that had been in BJ’s for years. For example, the new bathroom doors were BJ’s old front doors.
• The Carousel Group hotel management company kicked off 2014 by adding the 25th Street Crystal Beach Hotel to its list of properties. The Crystal Beach Hotel opened Jan. 1 of this year, giving the company a Boardwalk presence.
• Two specialty stores opened March 1 in the Ocean City Square shopping center on 118th Street bringing the first vaporizer or e-cigarette community hangout and a beach wedding business offering vows on the city’s shores. Café Vape is a spot where the “vape” community can try new flavors of liquid, use the Internet or just talk about what’s new. Barefoot Bride aimed to bring destination weddings to Ocean City by offering high-end but affordable alternatives to destination wedding sites like Jamaica or the Bahamas.
• After a trademark infringement lawsuit threatened to close its doors, the former Shorebilly Brewing Company on the Boardwalk reopened under a new name launching the “Backshore” brand at the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association’s Spring Trade Expo.
• Cowboy Coast Country Saloon took over the space that housed the 17th Street Party Block. Mark Bogosh opened the new country bar and restaurant the first week of May, once renovations were completed. The spot has a large stage area and a mechanical bull in the former Rush bar.
• The Worcester County Commissioners in conjunction with the Department of Liquor Control invited the public to attend the grand reopening of the Shore Spirits Retail Liquor Store on April 1. The 16th Street store is the newest of the DLC’s five newly branded Shore Spirit retail liquor store locations.
• Blood Bank of Delmarva (BBD) celebrated its 60th anniversary this year.
• MinuteClinic opened a new walk-in clinic inside the CVS/pharmacy store in Ocean City at 12001 Coastal Highway in April. This is the second location in Ocean City and the clinic is open seven days a week, including weekday evening hours.
• Jack’s Lobster Rolls opened on Second Street in April where owners JoAnn and Jack Mileski dish up a healthy portion of Maine lobster on a split-top roll, topped with butter and Crabby “J” Spice.
• SS Vape, which sells e-cigarettes and all the accompanying supplies, opened on 18th Street in April between Pizza Tugo’s and OC’s Restaurant Sushi Bar on Philadelphia Avenue.
Not smokers themselves, co-owners Barry Morrison, Martin Schlegel and Kirk Kinnamon see vaping — the term for using e-cigarettes — as a realistic way to help smokers quit cigarettes, which pack thousands of chemicals.
• Clients at the Worcester County Development Center began a handmade soap business and launched their line at Springfest. The idea for a soap-making business has long existed in the WCDC.
• In May, local photographer Kimberly Tucker launched a new boutique studio on the Boardwalk at 12th Street just around the corner from Decatur House.
• Skate shop, Get Gnarly opened on the Boardwalk at Somerset Street. Owner David Leverton, better known as “Tron,” opened his shop May 2 and from its bright T-shirts and hats to the local musicians often found playing acoustic guitar out front, the shop is reminiscent of the 90s movies that inspired his lifelong love for skateboarding.
• Barn 34 brought a new dining experience to Ocean City last May, with the Pirate’s Den’s renowned breakfast menu and the unique structure of the former Christmas Spirit building on 34th Street. The restaurant on 34th Street features favorite breakfast dishes like Captain Crunch French Toast and Crabby Eggs from the Lawson family’s former Pirate’s Den, as well as a new lunch and dinner menu.
• Señor Cigars moved from 78th Street to 33rd Street in May
• Little Leo’s American & Mediterranean Kitchen opened on 78th Street in May. By opening time, owner Christina Kaouris, has a host of homemade dishes from spanakopita and pastitsio to desserts such as baklava and walnut cakes lining the racks ready for customers to arrive. Though she’s been in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years, she treats her business more like a home kitchen where everything’s made from scratch.
• The 67th Street TownCenter welcomed The Market to its storefronts on Memorial Day, bringing fresh-brewed coffee, local produce and seafood straight from the docks to Ocean City’s mid-town shoppers. The Market features three local businesses —Point Break Espresso from 44th Street in Ocean City, Martin Fish Company based on the docks of West Ocean City and Berlin Organics from its farm on Route 611 — in one spot.
• Fat Daddy’s has been serving customers its famous sandwiches and subs since 1985 from its downtown shop on the corner of Baltimore Avenue and Dorchester Street. This past summer, after razing, renovating and an expanding the building, owner Ed Braude continued that tradition, reopening for business July 2. The new building incorporates three original storefronts — the original Fat Daddy’s, a T-shirt shop and a former residence. It added 18 dorm-style rooms upstairs, which Braude plans to rent out over the winter and next summer as part of the downtown’s revitalization project. There’s also retail space next-door he plans to rent. Visitors can still find their favorites dishes, including Fat Daddy’s No. 1 selling cheesesteak sub and its signature sandwiches like the “Outback,” and the “Jumanji.”
• Ocean City Brewing Company, Ocean City’s newest brewery opened for business June 7 and has been pouring craft drafts from across the country and its first local homebrews on 55th Street ever since. “I wanted to put Ocean City on the map as far as craft brewing,” owner Josh Shores said. “I was born here and raised here and wanted to bring new brew here.”
• Local Mojo on 34th Street opened on July 11 in between Ish Boutique and Barn 34. Owner Shenandoah Cute stocks the store with organic produce from Quindocqua farms, recycled art, homemade soap and other wares from the tri-state area, the business is a one-stop shop for homegrown goods.
• Bahia Marina on 21st Street went from a small-scale fishing headquarters to a full-service marina this year. The marina includes everything from grab-and-go sandwiches, drinks and frozen custard to gear such as rods and reels, bait, knives and crabbing kits. Because the marina opens at 6 a.m., visitors can grab coffee and a donut to go before heading out for a day on the water. Guests can use Bahia’s boat ramp for a fee or book a boat at the marina, from the 75-foot “Judith M” for deep sea fishing to party cruises and kayak rentals.
• Lily Zhu, the owner of Ho Feng Garden in Ocean Pines brought Japanese cuisine and sushi to downtown Ocean City at her new Tai Ji Sushi in July. The restaurant on Baltimore Avenue offers dine-in and carryout options from noodle dishes to Chinese classics like General Tso’s chicken and lo mein and, of course, a wide variety of sushi rolls.
• A Touch of Italy opened in Ocean City at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront on 67th Street in the beginning of July. People who have visited any of the Touch of Italy locations in Delaware, and especially its Route 1 restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, know that energetic is the operative word. Diners mingle with bar patrons, while other customers line up at the full Italian market or salumeria and the pastry shop, otherwise known as the pasticceria.
• Bourbon Street on the Beach opened its doors in July serving everything from crawfish pie and jambalaya to gumbo and other creole cuisine. Owner and Chef Barry Reichart brought New Orleans flair to Eastern Shore fare at his new restaurant on 116th Street. It offers upscale dining in a casual atmosphere with the hospitality of any Southern establishment.
• DeVito’s Deli celebrated 80 years of bringing customers homemade Italian pizzas and subs. It has been open in uptown Ocean City for more than three decades on 143rd Street.
• In July, another Ocean City staple, Phillips Seafood celebrated 100 years of bringing fresh seafood to customers at its 20th Street location
• OCM Crabs opened up a second location on 71st Street last summer, with a larger dining area and menu, the Diehl owners said. The menu at the new restaurant includes favorites such as soft shell crab sandwiches, fried oysters and shrimp, cream of crab soup and snow crab legs. Visitors can take home crabs by the bushel or enjoy all-you-can-eat crabs.
• Donut Connection opened in downtown Ocean City this past July. From chocolate-frosted and rainbow sprinkled to Boston cream-filled, the shop has an assortment of donut choices. Donut Connection is located on Second Street and Baltimore Avenue and dishes up pastries baked fresh daily alongside fresh-brewed coffee, Hershey’s ice cream and hot breakfast sandwiches.
• OC Beach Wax opened uptown at the end of July bringing Ocean City its only full-service waxing studio. Owner Ryn Barnett-Rohe provides services from eyebrow and bikini waxes to waxing for men, facials and even vajazzling, it’s bringing hair care to the forefront on 120th Street.
• Ocean City-based Mexican-Italian fusion eatery Guido’s Burritos, which is owned by Rocco Di Filippo, opened its second location on 33rd Street and Coastal Highway in August.
• Members of the community gathered for a night of food, music and accolades at the sixth annual OC Chamber Awards Gala in September at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel on 101st Street. Members of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce recognized six local names for their achievements this year. They were Business Person of The Year Bill Gibbs, of The Dough Roller; Citizen of the Year Dawn Hodge, of The Original Greene Turtle; Young Professional of The Year Sara Sabia, of the Harrison Group Resort Hotels; Volunteer of The Year Madalaine How, of MAD Engineering, Inc.; Non-Profit of The Year Diakonia, Inc.; and OC Chamber Lifetime Achievement Award winner Todd Ferrante, of Park Place Jewelers.
• One of Ocean City’s downtown institutions celebrated its golden anniversary this year. Wicomico Street’s Cork Bar has been part of the Wilkins family for the past 50 years and, like its walls packed with photos and other mementos, the site holds memories for the four generations who have called it home.
• On Oct. 18, local restaurateur Pino Tomasello had his final night at Fresco’s on 83rd Street. Plans are already in the works for the opening of a new, smaller venue on Golf Course Road in West Ocean City that Tomasello plans to have up and running by Valentine’s Day 2015.
• Carl M. Freeman Companies announced the opening of CVS/pharmacy at Bayside Marketplace, located at the southwest corner of Route 54 and Americana Parkway across from Bayside Marketplace. The 13,281-square-foot store opened Oct. 26 and offers pharmacy service, health, beauty and personal care items, general merchandise, food and digital photo services.
• Ropewalk will add a beach twist to the former Frescos property on 82nd Street in Ocean City. Renovations started on Nov. 1 and the restaurant’s operators plan to open in early spring. This will be the seafood-centric company’s third location in the region. The majority of the expansion on the new property will be on a vacant lot south of the existing location. The ground will be filled with sand to create a bayside beach dining area of 3,874 square feet. An expanded deck and pavilion will be built in the outside seating area. There will be seating under the pavilion and in the sand out by the bay.
• The Fasano family introduced its new hotel, the La Quinta Inn and Suites, to Ocean City on 32nd Street in November. The new La Quinta replaces the Ocean Voyager, which occupied the 32nd Street space for more than 50 years and underwent renovations by the Fasanos in 2013.
• Donald’s Duck Shoppe closed its doors in December after being a staple in Ocean City for 38 years. The multifaceted store in the Gold Coast Mall was famous for its art, collectables, decoys, ducks, cheeses and more Eastern Shore treasures.
“The loyal, wonderful people are what I will miss the most. Some have been visiting the store since we were on Shantytown. The strength and loyalty of our staff will be missed, too,” said owner Donald Hastings.
• “An Angel’s Touch” cleaning service strives to provide efficient and trustworthy service as far away as Annapolis and as close as Ocean City, according to owner Amy Donnelly. On Dec. 3, the service had an official ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony at her new Bishopville location.
• Dumser’s Dairyland celebrated their 75th year of scooping ice cream for Ocean City residents and visitors
• Gold Coast Gym is back under old management, Tammy China returned after an almost two year hiatus this winter
• Hall’s Restaurant is up for sale, although the family will maintain ownership of the real estate itself. Three generations of Halls have lived and worked on the property.
• Higgins restaurant on 31st Street will soon have an open air, roof top deck seating area and bar. The new addition will seat 150 to 200 people.
West Ocean City
• MinuteClinic opened a new walk-in medical clinic inside the CVS/pharmacy store in West Ocean City at 12510 Ocean Gateway at the beginning of the year
• Bikram Yoga opened a small studio in West Ocean City this past February. Bikram yoga is a 90-minute series of 26 yoga postures performed in a 105-degree room. The first half of the class is standing postures, followed by a series of sitting poses. The heat apparently expands the veins and arteries, the owner, Aviad Sasi said, and the poses produce a “tourniquet effect” that blocks off part of the body and then restores blood flow with each shift in pose.
• To kick off the grand opening of OC Fight Club’s new West Ocean City location, former collegiate wrestler and current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter, Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman, was invited to conduct a seminar in March. OC Fight Club is located in the Golden Pond Center, 12104 Ocean Gateway Unit #5.
• Since April 19, Precious’ Boutique has brought an eclectic collection of handmade crafts to West Ocean City shoppers. It is tucked away in the Herring Creek Professional Center on Route 50 and features everything from handmade soaps and candles to jewelry, artwork and owner Debbie Byrd’s own hand-sewn items such as dresses, purses and an array of stuffed animals.
• Hampton Roads Bankshares, Inc., the holding company for The Bank of Hampton Roads and Shore Bank, opened its third branch on the Eastern Shore of Maryland in June. Shore Bank will be located at 9748 Stephen Decatur Highway in West Ocean City.
• Pet Threadz, which is owned by Virginia and Amanda Knauff, opened its doors in July providing a shop for pet owners in search of custom clothes, beds, collars, leashes, high-quality dog food and more. It is located in the Decatur Business Center on Route 611 in West Ocean City.
• The Pole Power Studio is back in the Herring Creek Professional Center on Route 50, to put a new spin on fitness. Owner Angela Houck made the move from West Ocean City Fitness Labor Day weekend, bringing nine poles and new aerial silks and Fly Gyms to the ladies-only studio.
• GNC, also known as General Nutrition Center, opened in December at the White Marlin Mall in West Ocean City.
• Atlantic Physical Therapy continues to expand, opening its eighth location – and sixth on the Eastern Shore – in Selbyville in March.
• Harpoon Hanna’s Restaurant remodeled and refurbished their interior for an updated look. They added an upscale banquet room and a 1200-square foot three-season deck, for an open dining experience in the summer of 2014. The restaurant remained open throughout all renovations, which added more than 200 seats. The banquet room was completely renovated to accommodate more people for all private party needs. The new facility can host weddings, rehearsal dinners, banquets, conferences, and reunions. An update to the bar included a new draft system with 12 brand new lines, featuring a local craft beer selection.
• In June, Pinch Me Therapy Dough hit the online market and provided an innovative approach to stress relief. The brainchild of Nancy Rothner, the product lives up to its name, combing a pliant putty with soothing scents and colors designed to channel relaxation through the senses. In November, Pinch Me Therapy Dough was featured in celebrity gift bags at the American Music Awards.
• Millville By The Sea opened a showcase community amenity complex. The Lifestyle Center consists of a campus of coastal-style buildings which house a community clubhouse, a pool and pool house, a fitness center and a crab shack pavilion overlooking a six-acre lake.
• Operated by Bethany Resort Furnishings and Donaway Furniture’s Kim Messick and managed by her niece, Kayla, Furnish Again specializes in offbeat low-cost items of high quality and sturdy craftsmanship in Selbyville off northbound 113. For staging purposes, for rentals and replacements, to fill or furnish a room or a good solid piece of low-cost furniture.
• John Kokkinos expanded his craft by opening a new jewelry store, Sophia’s, in Fenwick Island, Del. in December. One of only 200 certified Master Bench Jewelers in the nation Kokkinos has been doing business in Ocean City for 30 years.
Six Ocean City restaurants and restaurateurs were among the finalists for the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s annual awards, which celebrate Maryland’s top bars, eateries and hospitality professionals for its 60th year. Fager’s Island, Seacrets, The Greene Turtle, BJ’s on the Water, Restaurateur Tammy Patrick Cebula of Galaxy 66 Bar & Grille and Chef Travis Wright of Shark on the Harbor made the cut.
“We are excited that Ocean City is well-represented on the nomination list this year,” said Executive Director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Susan Jones, encouraging locals to “go vote and keep Ocean City on the map.”
Ocean City restaurateurs took home four awards and two people were inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor at the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s annual Stars of the Industry gala in Cambridge this past April.
Wright, of The Shark on the Harbor received Chef of the Year honors; Patrick-Cebula, owner of Galaxy 66 Bar & Grille and The Skye Bar was named Restaurateur of the Year; Fager’s Island won Craft Brew Program of the year; Taylor, from Horizons Restaurant at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel received the Heart of the Industry Award; BJ’s on the Water and The Bayside Skillet were inducted into the Maryland Hospitality Hall of Honor this year.