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Commander hotel celebrates 85 years in OC

(June 5, 2015) A hotel can’t last in Ocean City for 85 years without undergoing a bit of change and the Commander Hotel on the Boardwalk has seen that change and then some.

For example, in 1997 the building was replaced entirely.

Now, under the management of the Real Hospitality Group, working on behalf of owners Will Lynch and Todd Burbage, are deciding what form that change will come in for the next big project at the hotel.

“Phase I gave us the chance to expand, phase II was replacing the restaurant and phase III is renovations,” Rick Day, public relations officer for the Real Hospitality Group, said.

Grotto Pizza opened in late May as the first Ocean City location of the Rehoboth Beach-based pizza chain.

“We want to retain the history but also give a sense of what we are trying to be,” Day said. “I’ve seen a couple of preliminary drawings, we’re currently working on ideas and expect to begin in 2016.”

After all, flat-screen TVs and other design or functionality features such as Wi-Fi weren’t exactly the norm even in 1997.

“We want to clean it up a bit and examine the nuance of our offerings,” Day said.

History is important, especially to those who lived it. More than 200 people RSVP’d to the 85th anniversary celebration held last week, Day said.

According to Bunk Mann’s “Vanishing Ocean City” history book, the Commander Hotel was, for a long time, the northernmost hotel on the Boardwalk. Its dining room was famous and the Commander outranked many other hotels, enjoying “elite” status.

“To dine at the Commander was a special occasion for tourists and locals alike,” according to Mann. The beachfront clambakes were especially spectacular, according to Mann’s book.

The Lynch family renovated and restored the Commander several times before handing over day-to-day operations to the group, Day said. The facility underwent a two-stage renovation in 1979, and in 1992 the cabanas near the pool were rebuilt. Of course, 1997 brought the full-building replacement and added retail space for rent facing the Boardwalk.

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