(Dec. 27, 2019) Awards were won, businesses opened and closed, and anniversary celebrations took place in Ocean City and surrounding areas this year.
Here are some of the awards and celebrations throughout Worcester County in 2019:
• Worcester Technical High School: Mayors, teachers, politicians’ aides and members of the Worcester County Public Schools Board of Education celebrated both the 10th anniversary of Worcester Technical High School’s building and the ribbon cutting of the welding department renovated by ChannelLock Inc. in February.
At the beginning of the 2018 school year, the trade school received a notification about a nationwide video competition held by ChannelLock, a welding and hand tools company that planned to give $5,000 for welding equipment and $3,000 worth of hand tools to the first-place winner.
Worcester Tech was announced the winner in November 2018.
The ChannelLock company spent five days repainting and installing new equipment, tools and other necessities in the welding room.
• Believe in Tomorrow: It was a cause for celebration on Aug. 15 for board members, volunteers and supporters of the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation when the organization broke ground on its new pediatric housing facility on 65th Street.
When completed in late 2020, this new respite property will prioritize U.S. military families who have critically ill children, as well as children with short life expectancies.
The new respite property, comprised of a two-story condominium with three bedrooms and two bathrooms as well as a rooftop deck, will be adjacent to the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House By the Sea, which is a five-condominium building on 66th Street.
• Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Awards: On Sept. 26, several recognitions were presented during the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Awards, at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel on 101st Street.
This year’s winners were: Pam and Macky Stansell of Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill, Lifetime Achievement Award; Michael James of the Carousel Hotel Group, Business Person of the Year; Dawne Pappas of the Original Greene Turtle and the American Cancer Society, Citizen of the Year; Chrissy Maddy of BB&T, Young Professional of the Year; Worcester County G.O.L.D, Non-profit of the Year; and the inaugural First Responder of the Year was given to six members of the Ben Paepcke Rescue Team of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.
• Skye Bar Award: Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot visited Roger Cebula, owner of the Skye Bar & Grille on 66th Street in October to present a proclamation for his effort to recycle oyster shells over the years at the restaurant.
Cebula and several other restaurants in Ocean City have been recycling oyster shells, which could be used as a part of the Maryland Oyster Shell Recycling Tax Credit. Cebula and his restaurant have been recycling oyster shells since the inception of the tax credit in 2010.
Currently, there are 10 restaurants in Ocean City that are part of the Shell Recycling Alliance – Blu Crabhouse and Raw Bar on 23rd Street, Bull on the Beach on 94th Street and Second Street, Crab Alley in West Ocean City, Embers Restaurant on 24th Street, Fager’s Island on 60th Street, Harrison’s Harbor Watch at South Atlantic Avenue on the Boardwalk, Marlin Moon Restaurant on 33rd Street, Ropewalk on 82nd Street, Skye Bar and Watermen’s Seafood in West Ocean City.
• Thrasher’s Fries: Thrasher’s was chosen by voters in October as the best place in Maryland to get French fries through Big 7 Travel, a travel magazine which polls for the best spots to eat in various places across the country, and even the world.
Thrasher’s French Fries are available at three locations on the Boardwalk; the original spot at the inlet pier, Second Street and Eighth Street.
• New Professional of the Year: Residence Inn by Marriott Sales and Marketing Manager Courtney Blackford was presented the New Professional of the Year award during the annual Maryland Tourism Travel Summit, held at the Rocky Gap Resort Casino in Flintstone, Maryland, on Nov. 7.
To qualify for the award, a nominee must work in a tourism-related company that is a member of the Maryland Tourism Coalition, have worked in a new position or capacity in the tourism industry for no more than three years and must be an active participant in industry-related activities.
Blackford is deeply involved with the community, hosting events at the hotel that benefit local charities, including Believe in Tomorrow, a respite housing program for children with terminal or debilitating illnesses, the Art League of Ocean City and other various organizations.
• Mother’s Cantina award: Mother’s Cantina restaurant owners Ryan and Neely James won the Maryland League of Conservation Voters’ President Theodore Roosevelt award, which recognizes environmentally conscious individuals, groups or organizations, in November.
The couple have cut out 99.9 percent of single-use plastic from their business and no longer use Styrofoam takeout containers. The only single-use plastic items they still use are trash bags, but they are hoping to find a suitable alternative in the near future.
The couple were honored to receive the award, but their work was part of a larger, collective effort in Ocean City spearheaded by organizations such as the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Surfriders Foundation, Assateague Coastal Trust, Ocean City Green Team and city officials as well, they said.
• Maryland Department of Housing Grants: The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development awarded two $55,000 grants to fund the Ocean City Development Corporation’s façade improvement and green building programs in November.
The Ocean City Development Corporation’s façade program has been active since 2002, and focuses on ameliorating the exterior of businesses and residences in downtown Ocean City.
In addition to its façade program, the corporation’s green building program, which began in 2011, has been quite successful as well with 65 buildings renovated to date.
Both programs target an area ranging from the inlet parking lot to 17th Street. Funding is limited to up to $7,500 per property, and $10,000 if a property owner is doing both façade updates and green building work. Properties must be smaller condominiums and have six units or less.
Many restaurants, stores and other businesses celebrated grand openings or milestones. Here are some of the new and celebrated businesses of 2019:
• Larry Holdren Real Estate: owned by Larry Holdren Sr., 76, celebrates 48 years of service from when he first began in 1971.
Based on 139th Street, Holdren and his family have been offering services to the town for nearly five decades.
Back then, lots were selling for between $2,500 and $5,000, and waterfront homes were sold for $8,000-$10,000.
In Montego Bay, there are 1,523 residential lots with 500 yearlong residents. It is the largest residential community in the in town.
• Century 21: on 86th Street is now under new management. Kim Looney inherited the business after her uncle, Bernie Roache Jr., who opened Century 21 New Horizon in the early 1980s, passed away at the age of 78 on Nov. 17, 2018.
Century 21 New Horizon covers rentals in Ocean City as well as buyers for all over Worcester County and in Delaware.
• TowBoatUS Ocean City: Capt. Rob Copenhaver, a 2004 Stephen Decatur High School graduate, became the new owner of the 24-hour, on-the-water boater assistance service, TowBoatUS Ocean City, Maryland in early April.
The assistance service operates from Delaware all the way to Chincoteague. The company operates a fleet of six response vessels ranging from 21 to 42 feet out of Fisherman’s Marina in West Ocean City, and Curtis Merritt Harbor in Chincoteague.
• 21st Street Beer and Wine: Although the name remains unchanged, 21st Street Beer and Wine came under new ownership.
Ace Owies, who has operated Seaside Deli on 72nd Street in Ocean City since 2015, took over the downtown beverage stop, located at 2110 North Philadelphia Avenue, mid-April.
In addition to a healthy selection of imported and domestic beers, as well as varied vino choices, the 21st Street shop includes a small selection of convenience store items, like snacks and cigarettes.
• Rhino Chaser Café: between sixth and seventh streets on the Boardwalk, is the latest project of Shotti’s Point founders Mike and Lisa Shott, and operating partner Andrew Gmitter, which opened in late April.
Shott opened the first Shotti’s Point restaurant in Baltimore in 2013, followed by a 35th Street location in Ocean City three years later.
The latest spot, Rino Chaser Café, refers to Shotti’s popular “Rino Chasers” fries that come with a dusting of parmesan, a drizzle of balsamic glaze and a white truffle aioli dipping sauce.
• Ocean City Florist and Gifts: Flowers, jewelry, candles and furniture are all available at Ocean City Florist and Gifts, located in the Montego Bay Shopping Center on 129th Street, which Denise Heim-Pazdan became the new owner of in April.
The flower shop offers services for weddings, anniversaries, funerals, birthdays, homecomings, proms and any other special occasion.
• Aloft Ocean City: A grand opening ribbon cutting for the new “lifestyle” hotel located in the 45th Street Village took place in May.
Aloft Ocean City is a five-story, 120-room, pet-friendly, open-concept luxury hotel targeting next generation travelers launched by Jack Burbage, owner of Blue Water Development.
In addition to both an indoor and outdoor pool, with the latter featuring a bar overlooking Isle of Wight Bay, other common area features include a fitness center and public spaces designed for live music.
Guest rooms include plush platform beds, branded Aloft bath amenities by Bliss Spa and walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads.
Amenities for four-legged family members include Aloft’s pet program, Arf, which features beds and bowls, along with treats and toys.
• The Angler: on Talbot Street in downtown Ocean City celebrated 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.
The establishment has continued to serve area residents and visitors for generations and is considered a local favorite.
• Abbey Burger Bistro: Matt Ortt Companies took over the 126th Street restaurant in April. It reopened on May 17 with new menu items and décor.
Burger lovers can enjoy 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.
• OC Bay Hopper: After a year of testing the waters and receiving feedback on its product, OC Bay Hopper, a water transportation service, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, mid-May.
OC Bay Hopper has two water taxi boats and four captains available, as all four co-owners are registered Coast Guard licensed master captains. The boats are licensed to carry 16 people at a time.
Restaurants that the service can access by bayside include Harpoon Hanna’s in Fenwick; Seacrets, Fish Tales, Tailchasers, Lazy Lizard, Fager’s Island, M.R. Ducks, The Angler, Marina Deck and Macky’s Bayside in Ocean City; and Sunset Grille and Haborside in West Ocean City.
• OC Socks: Owners Dena and Delmar Smith celebrated the grand opening of their store on May 2, their newest business in the Inlet Village, located at southern end of the Ocean City Boardwalk.
The small store is stocked floor to ceiling with socks for both children and adults. Fuzzy, woolen, adult humor, cartoon characters, as well as food, TV and movie themes are among the options available.
The store offers 20 different brands with over 1,500 styles to choose from.
• Three Anchors: In June, Three Anchors opened next to K-Coast on 78th Street, offering coastal dining, a casual atmosphere and a variety of dishes to choose from.
Mark Pugh, co-owner of K-Coast and Three Anchors restaurant, decided to open his own eatery last December while trying to find someone to lease the 7,000-square-foot, two-story space attached to the K-Coast store.
It is currently still closed for renovations.
• Selfie Fantasy: at 14 Worcester Street, opened in downtown Ocean City mid-June.
The former OC Screams building was completely renovated to include dozens of selfie and photography stations for guests of all ages and camera experience to pose for a memorable shot.
Selfie Fantasy offers 30 stations of picture-taking backgrounds, including a throne room, sideways house and ocean scene, as well as doughnut- and teddy bear-filled walls. The 6,600-square-foot facility even features a pool filled with 15,000 balls on the second floor.
• Juicy King Crab House: on 221 Wicomico Street, opened at the beginning of June.
The eatery is considered a Louisiana-styled, Cajun inspired seafood restaurant which offers steam pots that can be filled with up to a pound of shrimp, mussels, clams, crawfish, lobster tails or four different types of crabs – king crab legs, blue crab, snow crab or Dungeness – as well as fried seafood baskets, salads and various appetizers.
• Tino’s Mexican Grille: Martin Sanchez, who has over 30 years of experience in the restaurant business, opened Tino’s Mexican Grille on 81st Street in Ocean City in June.
Tino’s offers chicken, steak, pork and ground beef burritos or burrito bowls with toppings including pinto or black beans, guacamole, salsa, lettuce, chipotle ranch, sour cream and a variety of sauces.
• OC Poke Sushi and Teriyaki House: on 215 South Baltimore Avenue in downtown Ocean City offers fresh sushi, poke bowls and teriyaki meals.
The restaurant, which opened at the beginning of June, allows customers to build poke bowls, a Hawaiian dish traditionally consisting of diced raw fish served either as an appetizer or as a main course.
• Tea Boss: Bubble teas, ice cream rolls and sushi are some of the items customers can purchase at Tea Boss, on 118th Street in the Food Lion Shopping Center, which opened in July.
Bubble milk tea, which originated in Taiwan, consists of condensed milk, tea and often comes with “pearls” made of tapioca, fruit jelly, aloe, coconut jelly, grass jelly or agar. The shop also serves smoothies, hot and cold tea.
• Papi Joe’s Café: Joe Glorioso opened the eatery on Somerset Street in late June in downtown Ocean City. Some of the items available from Papi Joe’s Café include Italian sausages, pulled pork or brisket sandwiches, meatball subs, grilled cheese, fried chicken platters, hot dogs, pasta and pizza with homemade tomato sauce.
• BJ’s on the Water: Billy and Maddy Carder were only in their mid-20s when they opened BJ’s on the Water on 75th Street, and this year they celebrated the 40th anniversary of their restaurant.
The restaurant began as a small saloon with 39 seats plus the bar area. Over the years, the restaurant expanded to include an outdoor deck, a bayfront dining room and the indoor deck area, going from roughly 50 seats to over 300 when the deck is open during the summer season.
Some of the most popular dishes at BJ’s on the Water includes the Razorback sandwich, which consists of hot ham, tomato and mushrooms topped with melted Swiss, on wheatberry toast with tartar sauce and lettuce, and the seafood skins.
• PGN Crab House: on 29th Street, celebrated 50 years of business in Ocean City this summer. A family-run business, PGN Crab House has served many loyal customers over the years.
The restaurant offers a variety of dishes, such as steamed shrimp and clams, snow crabs, crab soup, a quarter-pound burger, salads, several sandwiches – including fish, ham, tuna, shrimp, chicken, oyster, flounder, soft crab and crab cake – New York strip, stuffed flounder and rack of ribs.
• CBD Supply MD store: Ocean City residents and visitors alike can select from dozens of cannabidiol products to assist in pain relief or other ailments at the CBD Supply MD store, located in the Food Lion Shopping Center on 118th Street, which opened in August.
Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, is a natural compound of the cannabis plant that can comprise up to 40 percent of phytocannabinoid, a molecule synthesized by plants, which can be used to alleviate human and animal ailments.
This type of chemical, when used without traces of THC does not require a prescription to be purchased. THC is the chemical that causes the psychological effects in marijuana.
• Beach Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning: Bob Tanner of Bishopville started his mobile carpet and upholstery company 30 years ago.
Beach Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning offers services for all types of rugs, carpets, chairs, couches and other fabric furniture. The process can take as short as an hour or as long as half the day, depending on the size of the job.
• Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery: Situated on a 12.5-acre farm with a historic house, Windmill Creek Vineyard and Winery, located on 11206 Worcester Hwy in Berlin, celebrated its first anniversary at the end of August.
The winery has five different varieties of wine – a Gruner Veltiner, riesling, chambourcin, a summer red and just released a rosé bottle this year. Prices range from $18-26 per bottle.
• Flavors & Foodies: an all-day breakfast and sub shop, settled in at the 15th Street Shopping Center in Ocean City in the middle of July.
Breakfast options include bacon, ham or sausage and egg and cheese, grits, toast, bagels, chicken and waffles and a variety of smoothies.
• Bob Jester: The 72-year-old has spent the majority of his life working in the real estate business … for 50 years, which has made him an essential part of Ocean City’s growth as a resort town.
Jester currently works with Keller Williams Realty on 75th Street. He also worked for 14 years at Coldwell Banker, which bought out the company he had worked for previously, Moore, Warfield and Glick, where he spent 25 years.
West Ocean City:
• Venus II Nails and Spa: opened its doors in the Teal Marsh Center in West Ocean City in January.
The salon offers manicures, pedicures and waxing.
It features a salon safe system certified by Salon Safe, which filters out the smell of nail polish to keep the air clean. The salon offers liquid gel, acrylic, French and fill nail treatments, as well as toe nail styling and nail repair.
• Caribbean Joe’s Bar and Grille: Joe Albero opened the eatery in West Ocean City inside the Alamo Motel in late January.
The restaurant serves wings, nachos, hamburgers, tacos, potato skins and quesadillas and pulled pork sandwiches, among other items. Since opening, Albero has opened a pool bar in the summer at the back of the restaurant.
• Taco Junction: A once abandoned storefront has been transformed into Taco Junction, a Mexican carryout in West Ocean City, at 9935 Stephen Decatur Highway in the Pizza Tugos Shopping Center in early March.
The menu offers nachos, guacamole, quesadillas, burritos and, of course, tacos. Customers can select from beef, chicken, fish and vegetarian options, along with a variety of toppings.
• Dough Roller: After nearly four decades of serving hot pizza in a family-friendly, resort-themed environment, the Dough Roller opened a new location in West Ocean City, at 12949 Ocean Gateway, in May with a grand opening ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Bill Gibbs launched the first Dough Roller in 1980 after purchasing the Breakers Hotel at Third Street on the Boardwalk the year prior and repurposing the lodging establishment’s front porch to provide Italian cuisine by the seaside.
All three of Gibbs’ sons help run the family business. Jeff Gibbs manages the Third Street location and Gary helps run the 41st Street and 70th Street restaurants, while Kevin manages the South Division Street location.
• West Ocean City Vehicle Tag & Title: Jody Palmisano opened West Ocean City Vehicle Tag & Title in June when he realized there was a need for the shop as Worcester County residents constantly had to drive to Salisbury to get their titles and tags.
West Ocean City Vehicle Tag & Title can create new tags and titles for vehicle purchases, ranging from regular, historic or bay tags. He can provide tags and titles for trailers, scooters, motorcycles, tractor trailers and most other vehicles.
Palmisano can also provide 30-day temporary tags and titles, transfer tags from old vehicles to new ones, accept turned-in tags from previous cars, get tags and titles for owners moving from another state, renew vehicle registrations for either one or two years, and replace tags that are lost or faded.
• Alex Fraschetti: The 77-year-old who has presided over decades of restaurant dining in Ocean City, the last 16 at his location in West Ocean City, has decided to retire.
Fraschetti’s restaurant, Alex’s Italian Restaurant, was slated to serve its final customers on Dec. 19.
Fraschetti’s 9,000 square feet of space was split between the bar area, the dining room and J&J’s Pizza, which he also owns and will be closing as well.
When it comes to the customers of Alex’s Italian Restaurant, he appreciates everyone who has spent the last 16 years with him.
• Atlantic Acupuncture: Eastern medicinal practices have come to Worcester County. With techniques such as acupressure, foot massages and acupuncture, Atlantic Acupuncture resides at 11033 Cathell Road in Ocean Pines, where it opened in July.
In addition to treating pain and infertility, the facility also offers procedures to treat depression, fatigue, migraines, menstrual complications, stress and other ailments. Treatments range from traditional acupuncture therapy, acupressure, lying on a jade surgeon massage bed, drinking Chinese herbal teas or foot soaks in herb infused water.