(May 10, 2019) The Angler restaurant, on Talbot Street in downtown Ocean City, celebrates 81 years in business in 2019.
It is one of the oldest continuously family-run restaurants in the resort, according to owner Jayne Bunting Kendall.
Kendall and her sister, Julie Bunting Smith, are fourth generation owners of the 81-year-old restaurant and marina, known for its bay view and fresh seafood.
Their great-grandfather, Charles Rollins Bunting, purchased the property in the 1930s, when the plot of land was only marsh grass. The Buntings were the first family in Ocean City to be issued a dock building permit, Kendall said.
Rollins Bunting owned all the property from where The Angler currently stands up a few blocks to Somerset Street. He gave his five sons each a parcel of land, putting them in competition with one another as they opened up their own restaurants and marinas.
“William Bunting, my grandfather, [and his business] started with my grandmother baking pies,” Kendall said. “She saw a need for lunches and such for the people that were going out fishing. She would make some breakfast, she baked pies and she made lunches for them to take on the boat. That’s how [The Angler] started.”
By the spring of 1945, William and Louise Bunting’s only son, William Porter, returned from the Coast Guard and joined his parents in business. He captained the sport fishing boat, Sunshine, during the day and assisted in the operation of the restaurant during the evenings.
William Porter’s wife, Martha, participated in the family operation in much the same capacity as Louise. The four Buntings continued to run the business until the retirement of Bill, Sr. and Louise in 1971. Then, Kendall and Smith joined their parents.
The establishment has seen its fair share of rough patches and foul weather over the years. During World War II, William Bunting was called to serve in the Coast Guard, and returned home to find storms had washed away the original dock. A new one and additions were installed in 1945.
Repairs were needed once again after Hurricane Sandy caused significant damage in 2012. The Angler had to undergo major reconstruction, adding more square footage to the original building as well as a lounge area called Martha’s Vineyard, dedicated to Kendall and Smith’s mother.
The establishment has continued to serve area residents and visitors for generations and is considered a local favorite.
“Our location is beautiful,” Kendall said. “It’s just been a tradition for people. We have people that come back generations later … we have people that have been coming for 50 years that say all the time, ‘My parents brought me, and my grandparents brought me and now I’m bringing my children.’”
The breakfast tradition at The Angler continues to be popular for the restaurant, though most guests enjoy it on the restaurant’s deck instead of a fishing boat.
“We try to source locally as much as we can,” Kendall said. “Of course, the trends are ever changing. We have a lot of the Eastern Shore traditional favorites, but we do change the menu as much as we can with the seasons.”
This summer, Kendall’s son, Porter, will come home from college and work in the restaurant, while Smith’s children, Meegan Jayne, R.J. and Maura, will also continue to be involved. Porter, Meegan Jayne, R.J. and Maura are the fifth generation in a family run tradition.
The Angler is open from May to October, and celebrated the start of its 81st season last Friday. Currently, The Angler is open on the weekends until Memorial Day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
For more information, visit www.angleroc.net/home or call 410-289-7424.