Summer has been winding down for months and as we approach November, Joe White still is keeping busy serving crowds at the Shrimp Boat. Traditionally there have been peaks and valleys in Ocean City, with insanely busy summers followed by deadish falls and winter doldrums, but that hasn’t been White’s experience in recent years. He opens every weekend in the fall, and often is open through the week well past the days he traditionally would have been. More recently, he has expanded the Shrimp Boat’s business by completing the dining area and making a play for both the local dinner and lunch crowd. He has added a significant craft beer selection and, most important, has secured an air-tight supply chain that’s going to allow the Shrimp Boat to (technically) stay open all year.
A big part of the decision was the fact that the fall really has picked up in Ocean City with events nearly every weekend through Thanksgiving. It is a lot busier than it ever has been in October and November.
“There are all these events throughout the fall,” he said. “When I was a kid we were happy if there was anything to do at all.”
People with places at the beach, in broad terms, close up their homes one of two weekends (if they close up at all). The first is generally Cruisin’ Weekend and the second is Thanksgiving. When people return for the holidays, they often arrange to get fresh seafood from Joe, who provides everything from salmon to the specialty fishes that people enjoy particularly at the holidays (octopus, calamari, salted cod) It was the sustained holiday boom that gave Joe the insight into extending the Shrimp Boat’s services beyond the fall.
Fresh caught and delivered
In addition to owning the shrimp Boat, Joe owns Salty Wave Seafood in Harrington, Del. It’s a wholesaler with a small carryout business upon which Joe will build a fresh-delivered seafood business.
“In the summer you do the things you do best,” he said. “But in the winter we get to dabble.”
For him, the past few winters have been dabbling with recipes and logistics in preparation for this additional venture. It was important to figure out not only what people wanted, but how they wanted it. To that end, he has prepared meals that he can ship, as well as a crab cake mix, along with fresh salmon, catfish, tuna and flounder.
“We’re sticking to the favorites, the things we know people want,” he said.
For Joe, it all comes down to his reputation and how people view the quality and care that goes into everything he does with seafood. If a person is going to make an effort to get fresh caught salmon, for instance, they want to be certain that is will arrive in good condition and be a pleasure to serve as well as to eat.
Joe has been beta-testing the delivery systems to make sure that what he sends is what people are receiving. That way, once the online store goes live it will enhance, rather than detract from his reputation.
Cruising into the fall at the Shrimp Boat
For the time being, Joe and his staff are keeping busy with the Shrimp Boat proper, which still is open weekends and often later in the week as well (call for details). They’ve been really busy every weekend and, with their expanded menu offerings, have attracted new fans every week. And that is a huge part of why it has been and remains a successful business.
Once people have popped in for lunch or dinner, they get a sense that the Shrimp Boat is even more than in look like from the outside. Sure, people still swing by to bring something fresh home, or even to take advantage of the carryout, but for people who remember the boat before the restaurant was added, it still is a pleasant surprise.
Excellent service and food is kind of what you would expect given the reputation of the fresh and carryout aspects of the business, but to experience it as a sit down place really gives you a sense of how deep the quality goes.
If you combine one of the nicest guys in Ocean City with a business he has been a part of since he was a child and add fabulous, FRESH seafood, you will just begin to understand how cool the Shrimp Boat is in West Ocean City.