Restaurants will feature seafood items on menus during Oct. 6-13 promo
Mother’s Cantina owners Ryan and Neely James, joined by their son, Reed, display fish tacos, with cabbage slaw and corn salsa, one of the dishes they will feature at the 28th Street restaurant, Oct. 6-13, during the second annual From the Bay, For the Bay Dine Out! promotion. During that week, participating restaurants will include seafood items on their menu and for each dish sold, that business will donate $1 to support the Oyster Restoration Partnership, a nonprofit group that works to restore and replenish the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.PHOTO COURTESY NEELY AND RYAN JAMES(Sept. 28, 2012) Organizers of the second annual From the Bay, For the Bay Dine Out! are looking for additional restaurants to participate in the promotion.
For each seafood dish sold during the week of Oct. 6-13, restaurant owners will donate $1 to support the Oyster Restoration Partnership, a nonprofit group that works to restore and replenish the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay.
The Shark on the Harbor in West Ocean City is one of the restaurants participating in the event. Pictured is the restaurant’s “Redneck Surf and Turf,” a grilled pork chop basted with Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce, topped with crispy oysters.PHOTOS COURTESY TRAVIS WRIGHT“This is an excellent promotion highlighting local products and supporting local industries,” said Susan L. Jones, executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel- Restaurant Association. “The tie to the Oyster Recovery Partnership is also wonderful as they have a great program for replenishing oysters. For the last couple of years, a few of our local restaurants have been taking their old oyster shells to a Dumpster for this program.”
If a restaurant’s fish tacos are designated as the “From the Bay, For the Bay” special, for example, and 75 are sold between Oct. 6 and 13, that establishment’s donation would be $75.
Donations are tax-deductible. Organizers ask each business to make a minimum donation of $50 to help cover the expenses of the promotion.
The three restaurants that garner the most donations will win a “day on the bay” for some of the staff.
“We wanted to do something in the fall to raise money to get more oysters out in the bay. It’s an easy promotion for the restaurants to participate in,” said Steve Vilnit, director of fisheries marketing for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. “Restaurants use the oysters in the bay and the promotion is a good way to support local watermen. [Oyster Restoration Partnership] is a great nonprofit for money to go to.”
Travis Wright, chef and owner of Shark on the Harbor in West Ocean City, participated in the inaugural promotion last year, along with more than 190 other restaurants from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“[My wife] Jody and I have actually toured the Oyster Recovery Programs lab at Horn Point and saw the whole process. We were really impressed with the work they do there and we were on board from then on,” he said.
In the last decade, the Oyster Recovery Partnership has replanted hundreds of millions of oysters in the bay. During the inaugural From the Bay, For the Bay event in 2011 more than $25,000 was donated to the Oyster Restoration Partnership.
“From that money we were able to put out over 3 million oysters in the bay,” Vilnit said.
Shark on the Harbor will participate again this year, along with another resort restaurant, Mother’s Cantina on 28th Street. During the weeklong campaign, restaurants from Philadelphia to Northern Virginia will feature fresh, locally caught Maryland seafood for their guests.
Wright said he will probably offer two oyster appetizers and a pork dish that incorporates oysters as well. The restaurant already prepares, what he calls “redneck surf and turf,” a grilled pork chop basted with Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce, topped with crispy oysters. Wright said he buys fresh Hooper’s Island jumbo lump when it’s in season, so he may include a dish or two with that, as well.
This is the first time Mother’s Cantina will participate in the promotion.
“We’re part of the True Blue Program with Maryland DNR, so it’s something that we focus on all the time, not just for the promotion. Using fresh local seafood is paramount to our business,” said Ryan James, owner of Mother’s Cantina with his wife, Neely.
“While we leave serving oysters to others, we understand how important they are as water filters and habitats for the crabs and fish we do serve,” Neely James added. “Ryan and I grew up on the bay, went to Maryland schools and our kids will do the same, so promoting the health of the bay has and will continue to be part of our family history.”
The restaurant’s true blue crab quesadilla, already a crowd favorite, will be featured during the promotion as well as fish tacos, with cabbage slaw and corn salsa.
“The fish will be whatever is local and fresh that day, maybe snakehead, dogfish or blue catfish,” she said.
“Anything we get is great. Obviously, the more restaurants and the more money the better,” Vilnit said. “The goal is to raise awareness of Maryland seafood and money for oyster restoration.”
Wright said supporting oyster restoration is important because they are nature’s filter for the Chesapeake Bay.
“One oysters can filter 50 gallons of bay water each day, which is really amazing if you think about it,” he said. “Everyone knows that the health of the Chesapeake has been in decline and a healthy oyster population can help to turn that around.”