(July 5, 2019) Abbey Burger Bistro on 126th Street is back in business under the management of Matt Ortt Companies, with new menu items and décor.
Matt Ortt and Ralph DeAngelus had several ideas for the old-fashioned burger bistro, which was made famous in Baltimore – as well as named Best Burger in Maryland by USA Today for its uncommon burger ingredients – when they took over the north Ocean City location on April 1.
“We did extensive construction,” DeAngelus, co-founder and restaurant design, development and operations manager, said. “The whole place was gutted. We built a brand-new bar and expanded the bar area by about 60 extra seats between the bar and tables.”
“When we initially heard that this was an option for us, we were both super excited to kind of sink our teeth into it,” General Manager Jason Meisner said.
The business partners were especially excited to work in an area which is so close to Northside Park on 125th Street, an area that has events all year long and a front-row seat to the fireworks display which takes place every Sunday until September.
Reopening on May 17, the restaurant not only received a face lift and additional seating, but also several new menu items. Originally known for just having burgers and fries, Ortt, DeAngelus and Meisner wanted to add more variety.
“The biggest thing what we noticed was about 90 percent of the items that were on the existing menu were all made-to-[order]-temperature items,” Meisner said. “This is what Abby Burger Bistros are known for in a couple of their other locations, which are on the other side of the bridge.
“But when you’re here and [there’s] about 265 seats …you definitely want to give people a broader palate of options as far as what they can order.”
Burger lovers can still enjoy uncommon burger meats like duck, bison, lamb, shrimp and vegan at the eatery.
New menu items include appetizers like crabby tater tots, fried pickles, alligator meatballs, tuna steak, nachos, mac and cheese and fried green tomatoes. Also new are various wraps, crab cake sandwiches, BLTs, hot dogs and boil baskets.
“This being a very beach-themed restaurant as opposed in the heart of Baltimore, we want to make sure people have light options for the summer such as shrimp salad wraps, chicken salad wraps … literally everybody that’s come here for the last six years has said, ‘I can’t believe we’re finally getting an option like this,’” DeAngelus said.
DeAngelus also wanted to make sure the integrity of the restaurant remained the same as how the original franchise owners Mark Shewbooks, Eric Leatherman and Russ and Marigot Miller had it when they opened their first restaurant in Baltimore.
“The biggest thing any time that we work and manage anybody else’s business … it’s so important to keep the integrity and the core values of what they do,” DeAngelus said. “The owners of the business have really been receptive to [our ideas]. I think they’re going to take a couple of things we’ve done here and maybe bring them to some of their other stores, which would be great.”
The company was also able to cut down on costs by reusing the original furniture, sanding and repainting the amenities.
“We knew that we really needed to be savvy and troubleshoot a lot of issues,” Meisner said. “Whether it was working with various companies to reutilize some of our tables, we decided we’re going to save money, we’re going to get these beautiful table wraps with this wood inlaid grain that actually brings a lot of new life to existing [supplies] that they had here.”
Since reopening, the eatery has received high praises from new and returning customers.
“Business has been wonderful,” DeAngelus said. “There’s a lot of business from [Northside] Park and a lot of business from the [nearby] hotels and a lot of business from repeat customers.
“It all comes down to what’s on the plate,” Meisner said. “What we’d like to do and specialize in, is putting our passion literally on every single plate that goes out of the kitchen. So when somebody takes a bite out of that burger and it’s got pepper cheese, pickled onions, gouda, avocado and all these fantastic toppings, they literally just have this burst of nirvana.”
The restaurant hours have not changed and will be open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight.
For more information about Abbey Burger Bistro, call 410-250-2333.