Family makes difficult decisions with closure of company founders’ estate

Beach Plaza

(Jan. 15, 2021) The Beach Plaza Hotel on the Boardwalk and 13th Street has permanently ended operations after almost five decades of serving not just as a hotel, but as the site of one of the preeminent porches on the oceanfront.

The Phillips family announced the closure on social media Tuesday morning.

With the closure of founders Brice and Shirley Phillips’ estate, the Phillips family had to make difficult decisions about moving forward with the various estate assets.

Shirley Phillips died on Dec. 25, 2017 at the age of 95. She was preceded in death by Brice, her husband of 68 years, who passed away in 2011. 

In 1956, the Phillips moved to Ocean City to start their seafood restaurant.In 1967, they began operating the Beach Plaza Hotel, which was built in 1954 by Ethel Griffin Kelley and her son Harry Kelley, a former mayor of Ocean City. Since then, the Phillips family employed hundreds of staff members at the hotel that the family credits for creating the welcoming, friendly environment that kept guests coming back.

The Phillips family has now entered into a contract for sale for the entire property.

“Through our nearly 50 years operating on the Boardwalk, we’ve loved getting to know all our guests who stayed with us year after year,” Steve Phillips, son of founders Brice and Shirley Phillips, stated in a press release. “The Beach Plaza Hotel was a wonderful home base for thousands of beach vacations, weekend getaways, wedding and anniversary celebrations and reunions, and we’re so grateful to have been a part of these unforgettable memories in Ocean City.” 

Anyone with an existing reservation at the Beach Plaza Hotel for 2021, can receive a refund. For more information, email info@beachplazaoc.com.

Jeremy Brink, the owner of Ocean 13, said the restaurant will relocate with Beach Plaza closing its doors.

Ocean 13 opened below the Beach Plaza Hotel on the Boardwalk and 13th Street in 2017.

“It was great, being in an historic part of Ocean City that already had the love and everything,” Brink said. “People have been going there since they were kids. That building is old. There’s so many people that have built so many memories there, and luckily, we got to go in there and be a part of that.”

He added that many people have commented that the restaurant brought back a lot of the charm Ocean City was missing.

Upon relocating, Brink said he’ll miss the space for events at the current Ocean 13 and the view of the beach.

“The view we had is unparalleled,” he said. “It was beautiful.”

Ocean 13 has been closed since the beginning of December for the off-season, which is earlier than usual because of the covid-19 restrictions.

“We were planning to be reopened in March, but we just got the email actually last week, telling us they’re closing down,” Brink said.

He added that he is currently looking for a new location to call home, hopefully with outdoor seating.

“That’s important to us to have somewhere for our guests to be able to enjoy what they’re in Ocean City for, which is the atmosphere,” Brink said.

The Phillips family’s original Ocean City restaurant location, Phillips Crab House, is gearing up for its 2021 season, with tentative plans to reopen for weekends starting in late-April.

Phillips Seafood is anchored in tradition with roots on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, and remains family owned and operated by the Phillips family. For more information, visit www.phillipsseafood.com.

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