Ocean City Today
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Ocean City hosts RAM awards, wins big in competition

By Kara Hallissey | May 10, 2018
Photo by: Kara Hallissey The Harrison Group, Waterman’s Seafood Company, the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, DaVinci’s by the Sea and Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill were inducted into the Maryland Hospitality Hall of Honor during the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s 64th annual Stars of the Industry gala at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel on 101st Street Sunday night.

(May 11, 2018) Several Ocean City restaurateurs were finalists for a number of awards Sunday night during the Restaurant Association of Maryland’s 64th annual Stars of the Industry gala at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel on 101st Street.

Resort businesses took home five awards and five were inducted into the Hospitality Hall of Honor.

“For the first time ever, the Restaurant Association of Maryland hosted our annual industry awards gala in Ocean City,” Marshall Weston, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, stated in a release. “Over the years, dozens of Eastern Shore restaurants have won our statewide awards, so it made perfect sense to bring the celebration to them. The industry responded with a great party with over 500 people from all over the state in attendance.”

Sunset Grille in West Ocean City was the winner in the “Favorite Restaurant” category. The West Ocean City establishment also received the award in 2011.

Owner Buddy Trala thanked his staff and friends he worked with at Embers during a speech after receiving the award.

“We’ve had the same chef and sous chef since day one, which is unheard of,” Trala said. “They are everything. I am blessed. This is awesome. Thank you.”

Susan Jones, who has been executive director of the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association since 1995, received the Brice and Shirley Phillips Lifetime Industry Achievement Award.

“I am not one to be speechless,” Jones said. “When I found out about this award, I was very speechless.”

The life-long Eastern Shore resident said she was thankful to the original board of directors for allowing her to shape and guide the organization, honored to receive an award in Brice and Shirley Phillips’ name, and expressed appreciation for her coworkers and husband.

“I am thankful to God for blessing me with an amazing and loving childhood where the Golden Rule was instilled in me,” Jones said.

She ended her speech with lyrics from Tim McGraw’s song “Humble and Kind.”

“When the dreams you’re dreaming come to you. When the work you put in is realized. Let yourself feel the pride, but always stay humble and kind,” she said.

Del. Mary Beth Carozza was on hand to present and read a citation from the governor.

“I read the description of the award and it talks about impeccable character,” Carozza said. “Susan Jones has that.”

Jay Taustin, owner of Embers, BLU Crabhouse & Raw Bar and Captain’s Galley, was named a finalist in the Restaurateur of the Year category, as well.

Since the gala took place in Ocean City for the first time, there were also three new resort-only categories: Favorite New Restaurant, Favorite Crab House and Favorite Boardwalk Treat.

Rare & Rye on 33rd Street won “Favorite New Restaurant” honors.

“We were very happy and surprised,” Owner Sal Fasano said. “We feel great about it. Our [first] anniversary party is just a few days away and this is the second award we have won for excellence or best new restaurant. We are very proud of it.”

Fasano credits Rare & Rye’s ambience, great customer service and tasty food for the Favorite New Restaurant accolades.

New Ocean City restaurant finalists also included Dry Dock 28, Shotti’s Point, Northside Pit & Pub and Braddah Barney’s.

“It was a real honor for the Jenkins Family and for Thrasher’s to be recognized by the Restaurant Association of Maryland,” said Les Morris, the longtime general manager of Thrasher’s Fries, which won the “Favorite Boardwalk Treat” category on Sunday night. “We strive every day to keep Thrasher’s French Fries one of the iconic destinations here in Ocean City and to deliver the quality product that has remained a tradition for generations of visitors and locals alike. The award really means a lot to us.”

In one of the closest categories of the year, the Crab Bag on 130th Street was presented “Favorite Crab House” distinction.

“It feels great to get the award. We certainly work hard and have a great staff,” Owner Albert Levy said. “Why did we get it? Because of our staff. We specialize in premium quality crabs and are all very excited and deeply appreciate it.”

Ocean City staples such as Dumser’s Dairyland, Phillips Crab House, Fisher’s Popcorn, Hooper’s Crab House, the Wrapper, Crab Alley, Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard and BLU Crabhouse & Raw Bar were also vying for an award.

The Harrison Group, Waterman’s Seafood Company, the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel, DaVinci’s by the Sea and Macky’s Bayside Bar & Grill were inducted into the Maryland Hospitality Hall of Honor.

The dining public voted for their favorite bars and restaurants online and on Facebook from March 7-28 with more than 35,000 votes casted this year.

For more information and a full list of winners, visit marylandrestaurants.com/gala and facebook.com/marylandrestaurants.

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