(May 29, 2015) I was warned that Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial, official start to the summer season here in Ocean City and I already understand that I now need to learn many more shortcuts to escape the traffic on Coastal Highway (not to mention the few miles backed up just to get over the bridge).
Not that any of that was going to stop me from enjoying the great weather and festivities of the last several days. Did you hit the beach at all? I was there and I think I saw an awful lot of you out there with your feet in the sand, enjoying a well-deserved extended weekend.
Speaking of the beach and Boardwalk, have you stopped into the Park Place Gallery on Third Street at the Boardwalk lately? Smack in the middle of Thrashers French Fries, Dippin Dots and right next door to Bull on the Beach, this is one of those places that art lovers really need to check out.
I had an opportunity to chat with store manager, Linda Stumpf and she told me that this gallery has actually been an OCMD staple for more than 20 years. The artwork itself is pretty obviously (at least to a trained eye) hand-painted oils on canvas, but it’s not done by a small handful of artists. Instead, Park Place Gallery is actually featuring the work of at least 200 unique artists.
The paintings also all come with interchangeable wooden frames, so you basically can choose something that is guaranteed to match the space where you want to hang the piece. The works themselves are really cool and while there are some of those great scenic paintings, there is also still life and various street scenes to choose from.
Of course, you’ll find a light house or a ship at sea, but if that’s not your thing then keep flipping through the canvases because something will inevitably catch your eye. Linda tells me that the gallery is now open at 10 a.m. daily and that the paintings are always 50 percent off.
For those of you that would love to buy some great new art but don’t want to have to lug it around all day, Linda has the solution. She will hold anything that you purchase, so you can continue on with your beach day and then come back and grab your new artwork before you leave the Boardwalk. More places should offer that service, don’t you think?
Jolly Roger SpeedWorld at 30th Street and Coastal Highway has had a soft opening for its new Cyclone Cart Coaster for a little while now but the official ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening was last Friday. The wooden course is the only one in the country, at more than 1,500-feet long, was built with 22,320 square feet of lumber, 78 pilings and 83,000 stainless steel bolts.
Jolly Roger also bought 40 new go-karts for Cyclone. Half are single seaters while the other half seat two riders. At 9.5 horsepower, the vehicles have twice as much power as the regular cars. The course is wide enough for three-wide racing and all 40 cars can be used at one time if necessary.
A typical ride will be between three and four laps long. Dean Langrall, director of sales and marketing for Jolly Roger Parks, told me that the main difference between a regular roller coaster and the cart coaster is the fact that you are actually controlling your own speed in the latter. So far, the new rides top speed is still unknown.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony brought out various local OCMD officials, Mayor Rick Meehan, Senator Jim Mathias, and other city and chamber officials were invited to the event, which was also catered by Tammy Cebula at Skye Bar. Ocean 98’s Bulldog & the Rude Awakening crew was also in the house broadcasting live near the new Cyclone Cart Coaster.
As for the ride itself, everyone that I talked to mentioned the same thing, that moment when you go over a hill and feel almost airborne. Jolly Roger is hoping that offering up something as new and innovative as the Cyclone will give them a bit of an edge in the amusement park industry. Since the SpeedWay is now open daily you can test it out for yourself but you might want to call ahead to double check the hours.
There were a handful of new businesses pushing to open their doors in time for the unofficial summer kick off in OCMD and Ropewalk was one that made it just in time. Located on 82nd Street, not only is Ropewalk one of Ocean City’s newest seafood restaurants, but it might have one of the best views overlooking the bay. By the time you’re reading this, Ropewalk will have been open for exactly one week and it has been quite a successful launch.
Chris Reda, one of the owners of the new venture, took a few minutes out of the holiday weekend chaos to fill me in on what is going on at Ropewalk. If you stopped in this past week then you were probably struck by just how big this place is and Reda was happy to mention the 300-foot deck and three beach bars. He also told me that the lobster pot pies and crab cakes seem to be some of the early hits from the menu.
The Dueling Pianos have been providing entertainment at night and lunch time on Saturday and Sunday for the time being will feature various acoustic players. Happy hour is currently running Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m. with drink specials changing frequently. While Reda is really proud of what Ropewalk currently has to offer customers, he is equally excited about the future.
There is currently a huge playground being built that will give parents a safe spot to entertain their kids while enjoying a drink at sunset. Look for the menu to expand and drink specials to continue in the coming weeks as Ropewalk finds its footing and in the meantime, stop in and check it out for yourself.
Piaza, located in the Ocean Landing Shops in front of Walmart on Route 50 in Berlin, has been open for nearly two months now and I recently caught up with owner, David Crocetti, to see how things are going. He says that everything has been great so far and the public feedback has been wonderful.
Customers seem to really appreciate the high quality/freshness, reasonable pricing and awesome tasting food. Everyone seems to really get a kick out of the 1,000-degree oven and the fact that it cooks a pizza, brick oven style, in under three minutes right in front of them.
Crocetti tells me Piaza has offered specials for employees of Walmart and Home Depot, both of which are located nearby. Listen up, because this is where it gets good for you guys. Crocetti will give you 50 percent off of one cheese pizza if you cut out this column and bring it in with you to Piaza before June 1. Limit one per customer, of course.
Now that it’s unofficially summer here in Ocean City, there’s a lot of cool things coming up to check out.
Johnny’s Pizza & Pub at 56th Street and bayside will be celebrating its fifth anniversary on Wednesday, June 3 with one heck of a party. Owner John Hofman tells me that their will be live music from 6-9 p.m. by Randy Lee Ashcraft & the Saltwater Cowboys, plus you can expect surprise guest appearances onstage by other local artists.
There is alway an awful lot going on at Johnny’s at all times. Aside from the fact that Hofman takes pride in regularly supporting local musicians on a weekly basis, he also is one of the only establishments in OCMD to feature music videos as well.
Now let’s talk food, something that is clearly Hofman’s specialty. Each year the menu at Johnny’s changes and currently crab toast with horse radish sauce and coconut shrimp are both very popular appetizers. If wings are your thing then you’ll want to stop in for sure because Johnny’s offers 19 different varieties to try.
Hofman is thrilled to be celebrating five years in Ocean City and he told me that business has far exceeded any of his expectations. He credits the solid core kitchen staff, bartenders and servers that keep Johnny’s business moving smoothly. Without this great group of workers business for Hofman would likely not be nearly as profitable.
If you’re looking for a cool Happy hour then you might want to hit up Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill at 54th Street on the bay. It runs from 3-6 p.m. and the popular eatery also begins serving an early dinner at 4 p.m. It’s perfect when stopping for a drink with friends turns into a great time ending in a good meal.
Carousel Oceanfront Hotel & Condos on 118th Street on the ocean celebrates happy hour daily in the Bamboo Lounge from 4-7 p.m. Fish Tales Bar & Grill between 21st and 22nd Street on the bay is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. everyday with happy hour from 3-6 p.m. and Guidos Burritos on 33rd Street and Coastal Highway is open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. with authentic Mexican street fare and great drink specials to round out your fiesta.
Fager’s Island on 60th Street, bayside, features $5 Smirnoff Bloody Mary’s and a special Sunday Jazz Brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Also, you can catch Kevin Poole playing on the deck on Friday, May 29 beginning at 5:30 p.m. and DJ Hook will keep the party going at 9:30 p.m. until Animal House takes the stage at 10 p.m. Opposite Directions and DJ Groove will provide the entertainment on Saturday, May 30 beginning at 5:30 p.m. and then once again, Animal House will hit the stage at 10 p.m.
BJ’s On the Water at 75th Street and the bay offers happy hour Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. and a late night happy hour Sunday through Thursday from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Don’t forget that BJ’s is also hosting a Paint Nite on May 31 from 6-10 p.m. Happy hour will run all night for participants and this will be the last Paint Nite on site until September. Check out www.bjsonthewater.com for more info.
Buddy’s Crabs & Ribs first opened its doors on Wicomico Street and the bay just two weeks ago but already it is finding different ways to stand out from the competition. Aside from offering crabs to go and hand-cut fries, Monday night is officially now locals night with cool entertainment on the deck. Crushes are $5.50 all day every day and Natty Bo’s for O’s & Natural Lights are just $1.79. Harborside Bar & Grill on South Harbor Road in West OC celebrates ladies night every Friday beginning at 7 p.m. with $3 shooters and $4 for a glass of wine. Late night food and drink specials are offered Sunday through Thursday starting at 9 p.m.
If you’re looking for somewhere a bit unique that is also family friendly then you might want to stop into Frog Bar & Grill at 806 S. Atlantic Avenue overlooking the inlet. The full breakfast menu served between 8-11 a.m. is especially good because you can build your own omelet. Also, check out Frog Bar’s coupons in OC Today for freebies to go with your meal.
Last month Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli on 63rd Street and Coastal Highway had its first Cars & Coffee meeting early on a Sunday morning and the turnout was pretty respectable. Deli owner, Warren Rosenfeld likens it to a book club meeting, but for classic car owners he clued me in to the fact that these meetings take place all over the country. Since we already know that OCMD and the surrounding area loves classic cars, another meeting seems like a no-brainer. That said, mark your calanders because the second Cars & Coffee meeting at Rosenfeld’s Jewish Deli will be held on Sunday, June 7 from 8:30-10:30 a.m.
If outdoor music is your thing and you like the sound of free (really, who doesn’t?) then check out Somerset Plaza located on Somerset Street between the Boardwalk and Baltimore Avenue on select Sunday afternoons all summer long. For the 13th year in a row, various performers will play beginning at 3 p.m., with Blake Haley kicking off the series on June 14. For more information on the summer schedule you can contact the OCDC at 410-289-7739.
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget that the Ocean City Performing Arts Center has acts like Hal Holbrook, Ronnie Milsap, Graham Nash and The Texas Tenors lined up to perform over the next few months. Tickets for the shows are available at the Convention Center Box Office or through Ticketmaster.
For more information, call the convention center on 40th Street at 410-289-2800 or Ticketmaster at 1.800.551.SEAT (7328).
If you have an upcoming event that deserves a mention then email me at Cate@oceancitytoday.net.