(May 15, 2015) Owners Ray and Deborah McGrath expanded Primo Hoagies on 133rd Street by purchasing Brewski Brothers next door last year, adding a bar and continuing to improve the location by knocking down a wall to connect the structures this past offseason.
It seemed to happen overnight and they kept “one of the biggest secrets in the area for almost a year.”
In December 2013, the landlord contacted McGrath and asked if he was interested in taking over the neighboring space.
The rest is history — construction started during the off-season and in July, Beach Barrels was opened with a brand new bar inside — it’s just no one knew about it.
“We rebranded and geared it to compliment Primos,” McGrath said. “We talked with contractors and put together a bar people would like going into and he nailed the beach theme we were looking for.”
Last summer, customers came in, knew what they wanted, ordered and left.
“Taking the wall down in wintertime gave our customers the opportunity to have a cold beer with their hoagie or while they wait and head off to the beach,” McGrath said. “Since the wall’s been gone, people now drift over there.”
He said 99 percent of Primo Hoagies customers came in last year and did not know there was a bar next door.
The 16-seat bar has six beers on tap and patrons can order their favorite Primo sandwiches while enjoying an alcoholic beverage with a full bar with liquor. The room also has flat-screen televisions and Keno is available.
“Reviews from the customers have been very positive and every week since we’ve been open has been more crowded,” McGrath said. “The bar is bringing an increase to our dinner crowd.”
The old-fashioned Italian specialty sandwich shop re-opened on St. Patrick’s Day weekend without the wall hindering customers from checking out the new bar.
In addition to the bar, Beach Barrels has beer and wine available for take-out.
Three new sandwiches are offered and are being introduced as Primo Hots. The choices of pork, roast beef and turkey are marinated in Au-jus and served hot on a Primo roll.
“The Primo roll recipe was developed in South Philly at Liscio’s Italian Bakery and people cannot buy them anywhere else,” McGrath said. “Only the best ingredients are used with Thumann’s gourmet meats and cheeses sliced fresh no matter what.”
The McGraths opened Primo Hoagies in June of 2010.
“We sell more hoagies at the Ocean City location than any other of the 94 locations from May to September,” he added.
Primo Hoagies was established in South Philadelphia with locations in Salisbury and Dover, Del. being the closest to Ocean City.
Beach Barrels and Primo Hoagies will be open year-around. A pellet stove will be installed to create a warm spot for customers during wintertime and they are applying to offer acoustic entertainment.
Also, they will be expanding their hours in the summer to midnight during the week and 2 a.m. on weekends.
“Half of our customers I can punch in their order before they walk in the door,” McGrath said. “The Primo owners loved our new concept and are happy about increasing the dinner crowd.”