By Logan Dubel
There’s a brand new restaurant coming to the resort later this spring that promises to shake up the local dining scene. Pier 23, a revolutionary restaurant experience set to open in West Ocean City, will allow residents and tourists to experience dining from a brand-new angle, quite literally. Pier 23 is far from traditional, from its structure to amenities, and will bring unique new life to eating at the beach.
Constructed entirely from renovated shipping containers, Pier 23 is Ocean City’s first-ever container food port. Owned and managed by the Taustin Group, experienced local entrepreneurs, this is an exciting venture stretching far from the norm. The team hopes that the restaurant’s courtyard-style design creates the port and waterfront feeling, but instead of the containers coming into the dock, patrons are arriving for fresh food and drinks with a full view of the kitchen and harbor.
While the menu includes burgers, cheesesteaks, deli sandwiches, tacos, and salads, the food at Pier 23 will be far from generic. Chefs hope to capitalize on the idea of “elevated street food,” the latest trend first started by food trucks across the nation.
“One of the greatest things about going out to eat is that everyone enjoys a great atmosphere as well as variety,” said Cole Taustin, CEO of the Taustin Group.” We are hoping to create a fun and relaxed entertainment atmosphere while also supplying a diversity of types of food, elevated from the traditional sense of what you get in Ocean City.”
On top of great food, Pier 23 will ensure that its patrons are entertained, with live music on the weekends during the offseason and several times throughout the week during the summer. Lineups are already posted through mid-October on the restaurant’s website, with genres including contemporary hits, classic rock, blues, and reggae. The stage is constructed so that acts will be visible from any seat.
Highlighting its harbor location, Pier 23 will offer water taxi transportation in partnership with the OC Bayhopper. People coming in and out of the water can start and end their Bayhopper excursions with a bite to eat at Pier 23.
Whether you’re looking to stay and dine-in while enjoying the music, hop back on the boat and head out to Assateague Island, or even hit the beach, the restaurant is designed for everyone. All food offerings will come in to-go-style packaging and the wrapping will be earth-friendly, especially considering Pier 23’s proximity to the water.
The opening of Pier 23 marks the end of a challenging road for this West Ocean City property. While restaurants were forced to shutter their doors two years ago due to the pandemic, the Taustin Group had already lost Madfish Bar and Grill, its previous restaurant on this property, due to a three-alarm fire, months earlier in August 2019. While the team initially planned to rebuild, the pandemic changed their entire mindset. This idea arose during the Covid-19 lockdown as the Taustin team researched innovative concepts for open-air restaurants.
“Just like these containers are being transformed into a kitchen, bar, and stage, we transformed this property to reflect everything that we have learned from the pandemic as well as everything we know that Ocean City has to offer,” said Kyler Taustin, Marketing Director for the company.
After many setbacks in construction due to the worries of surrounding property owners about noise, all concerns have been remedied. The team is grateful for the input of those in the community, whose concerns allowed for rethinking that eventually made the design plans even better.
“Some of the people who shared their concerns at the beginning of our construction are actually our best supporters now. Plus, we’ve had some challenges getting permits simply because this is such an unknown,” explained Cole Taustin. “There has never been a structure like this in Worcester County before, but we’ve stayed strong and continued to address whatever concerns come our way.”
“These challenges have actually allowed us to rearrange and find some of the best and exciting components of the restaurants. We have a second floor above the bar opening up a great view of the band as well as an aerial look at downtown Ocean City,” added Kyler Taustin. “Even though we have had some delays, it is those obstacles that have allowed us to innovate yet again for our patrons ahead of our opening next month.”
As the restaurant gears up for its grand opening later this spring, the team can’t wait to hit the ground running.
“This is all about bringing something unique and different to Ocean City. We want to elevate the level of food and expectations in the resort. There is so much about our town that has stayed the same for so long, but I think this is a positive step towards innovation and change in the local restaurant industry,” he reflected. “We want to honor the traditions of family, food, and entertainment in Ocean City, but raise the bar and bring it to you in a whole new way.”
After nearly three years of imagination and resilience, it’s time to open the doors, or the containers rather, and welcome guests to Pier 23! For more details, visit pier23oc.com.