Happy Anniversary: West Ocean City’s popular Harborside to celebrate 20 years in business with a party this Sunday

Happy Anniversary: West Ocean City’s popular Harborside to celebrate 20 years in business with a party this Sunday

(April 5, 2013) Chris Wall and Lloyd Whitehead will celebrate 20 years as owners/operators of West Ocean City’s Harborside Bar and Grill on Sunday with an all-day, all-night party.

Food and drink specials will be offered and prizes will be given away. There will also be a pig and bull roast.

DJ Billy T will provide music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., followed by the Saltwater String Band from 2-6 p.m. Billy T will play again from 6-9 p.m., and DJ BK will take over at 9 p.m. He will play until close.

Wall and Whitehead said they’ve had countless loyal customers patronize the hot spot over the years. And many of those customers, Whitehead added, have become close friends.

They are also appreciative of their employees, several of whom have worked for the pair for a number of years.

“We’re very fortunate with the staff we have here. We owe a lot of our success to them,” Wall said Monday as he and Whitehead reminisced about their 20-year business venture. “We’re very grateful for our loyal staff and customers we’ve had for 20 years that kept us going.”

Wall and Whitehead have admittedly had differences, but they have always put what is in the best interests of Harborside ahead of anything else.

They first met in the seventh grade at Worcester Preparatory School (then Worcester Country School). After graduation, they went their separate ways to do different things, but met up one afternoon in summer 1992 at Pickle’s Pub, when Wall was doing laundry nearby.

Real Estate agent Paul Carlotta, Jr., who the two became friends with when they all worked at Phillips restaurant on 21st Street in 1990, walked in and asked they if they wanted to buy a bar.

“We were just hanging out. We had planned to go to BJ’s [on the Water] for the deck party,” Wall said.

Plans changed and the three went over to the Stumblin’ Inn to check it out. They decided to take on the business together — thus, Harborside was born.

“It took longer than expected to go through, but it finally all came together,” Wall said.

While friends, family and employees waited outside, they signed their lease on March 29, 1993. After a quick celebration, they got busy cleaning.

“What we couldn’t scrub clean, we painted over,” Wall said.

They opened for business a few days later, at 3 p.m. on April 1, just in time for happy hour.

Wall and Whitehead bought out Carlotta’s share in 1995 — the same year the famous Orange Crush made its debut. Each year, tens of thousands of Orange Crushes are sold, Wall said.

In January 2001, they bought the South Harbor Road property where Harborside resides.

They expanded the deck area during their first spring in business and have made a number of additional renovations over the years, including remodeling the bathrooms and kitchen. They also upgraded the indoor and deck bar areas. The outside deck had been closed during the winters until 2005, when they added heaters and winterized the area better to keep the heat in, Wall said.

Last year, a new dock was completed to provide more space for boaters. An outdoor seating area was also constructed.

Whitehead said when he thinks back sometimes and he can’t believe it’s been 20 years since they opened the restaurant.

“It’s been a long, strange trip,” Wall added. “People love the atmosphere here. We want them to come here and have a good time.”

Harborside Bar and Grill owners Chris Wall, left, and Lloyd Whitehead will celebrate 20 years in business with a party on Sunday at the South Harbor Road restaurant in West Ocean City.

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