Ocean City Today

Fish Tales in OC celebrates 35 yrs. with May 22 party

By Kara Hallissey | May 17, 2018
Photo by: Kara Hallissey Donna and Shawn Harman, owners of Fish Tales in Ocean City, will celebrate 35 years with a parking lot party on Tuesday, May 22, from 12-7 p.m. at the 22nd Street bayside establishment.

(May 18, 2018) Shawn and Donna Harman, owners of Fish Tales in Ocean City, will celebrate 35 years with a parking lot party on Tuesday, May 22, from 12-7 p.m. on 22nd Street.

Attendees are encouraged to wear old, vintage Fish Tales T-shirts. Guests could win a prize for donning the oldest one, in addition to prizes for best dressed attire from 1983.

There will be music, drink specials from 1983 served in a commemorative cup, face painting, games for children, and a corn hole tournament with prizes.

Customer appreciation giveaways, including gift cards, Fish Tales apparel, gifts from beer distributors, and other miscellaneous items will be handed out every half hour throughout the event.

Attendees can share their favorite Fish Tales stories in a memory booth contest, and the restaurant will bring back old menu classics for the day such as the original steamed hot dog, the club sandwich, shrimp bisque, Carolina-style pork barbecue, crab fingers, kabobs, and the tale expander, which comes with fried mozzarella sticks, shrimp jammers and jalapeño poppers.

A number of former bartenders will return to Fish Tales and donate their tips to Rich Relief during the event including Tammy Velenovsky, Kimberly Griffin, Kevin Decker, Erik Windrow, Trenton Bernhardt, Mike Lokey, Brian McCreay, Pam Harman, Shay Gallo, and Dave “Kanook” Griffin.

Rich Relief is an ongoing fundraiser for Fish Tales assistant manager, Rich Tesar, who is in need of assistance after a severe boating accident last July.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is slated to take place at 3 p.m. with a number of guest speakers including Mayor Rick Meehan and Del. Mary Beth Carozza will present a proclamation from the governor.

“We opened in late August of 1983, but we wanted to make sure the 35-year celebration was with the customers who have been with us since day one,” Donna Harman said. “I can’t say enough about our staff. They are the reason our customers come back and some have been here for over 20 years.”

Shawn Harman’s father, William, bought the marina on 22nd Street in 1970 with his friend and golf partner, John Greene, who was an avid pilot and owned a boat.

“Every weekend they would have a barbecue [on the property after being out on the water] and they would say, ‘this is a great place to put a bar,’ and that is how it started,” Harman said.

By 1974, the marina went through its first expansion, and customers could purchase a hot dog with some chili and beers from a cart before Fish Tales’ bar was officially opened to the public on Aug. 22, 1983.

The Harmans bought out Greene in 1995, and shortly after they decided to put a beach area in front of the dock.

“Boats were stored here and it was not a good view,” Donna Harman said. “We went and bought plastic chairs and tables from Roses [before seating was switched to picnic tables a few years later.]”

A pirate ship playground at Fish Tales came about after Donna brought her daycare children to the restaurant, where they would play with toys in the sand during the 1990s.

“When we opened the restaurant one day, I realized we had forgotten to take the toys home, and that’s how the playground happened,” she said. “We are the original bar and family restaurant with a playground [in Ocean City].”

Property was purchased next door in the 1980s, which was turned into a parking lot in 2004-2005, Shawn Harman said.

In 2002, Fish Tales unveiled a second bar to the public on Memorial Day weekend, and the popular swinging chairs received upgrades that same year.

“When we were growing it was like holding onto a runaway horse,” Donna Harman said. “Fish Tales taught us how to run a restaurant.”

In April of 2016, the Harman’s replaced the dated pirate playground with a structure covered in barnacles and starfish, which resembles a treehouse with areas designed to keep children from ages 2 up to 12 years old entertained, until dinner is served – on Frisbees.

The “Neverland” playground includes an arcade, and children can climb up the mini rock wall, run across shaky bridges, or play a game of tic-tac-toe.

Fish Tales is known for its fish tacos, and the original big tale sandwich, which includes genoa salami, cappicola ham, prosciuttini ham, provolone cheese, lettuce, tomato, hot and sweet peppers, onion, oil and vinegar, roasted peppers and served on ciabatta bread.

“It is the first thing local people eat at the beginning of the year and the last sandwich they eat at the end of the season,” Shawn Harman said. “The calamari is fresh. We know how to cook fish and all the food is good.”

In the near future, Fish Tales will offer tiki bar cruises in the bay for up to six people. A cooler of ice and captain are supplied for the adventure. Guests are encouraged to bring their favorite alcoholic beverages and be their own bartender. The plan is to run four, two-hour cruises a day.

“You hop on and float out to different sand bars,” Donna Harman said. “We plan to have a three-hour mimosa trip. We supply the ice, cups and oranges and they bring the champagne.”

The establishment also has 54 boat slips available to patrons coming by water.

Every Wednesday night from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., Fish Tales offers 99-cent Natural Light drafts and $2.75 rail drinks. The bar and restaurant is also known for its root beer barrel bombs, which consists of root beer Schnapps and Natural Light beer. One dollar from every root beer barrel bomb sold will go to Rich Relief.

“Thirty-five years is a long time to be in business in Ocean City,” Shawn Harman said. “Come celebrate with us. We have been family-owned and operated for 35 years. My 91-year-old mother, Kathleen, is still involved.”

Fish Tales Bar & Grill on 22nd Street is open daily, from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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