OCEAN CITY, Md.— Spring and summer this year come with Ocean City business up and down the coast restlessly eager to make the most of the tourism season after paralyzing coronavirus restrictions lift.
The 2021 season will hold some new faces, as people across the region venture into the resort town for anything from a day trip, to weeks away from work or school.
In the realm of food, shopping and lodging, here you’ll find some of Ocean City’s newcomers since last summer:
What’s new in Ocean City’s restaurant scene?
Ocean City’s first open-air food market
Beachgoers learned earlier this year that Ocean City’s first open-air food hall concept was headed to the Boardwalk in summer 2021. Now its anchor restaurant, Bandits Bar & Grill, is slated for completion by the end of June.
The Inlet Market, with its envisioned blend of grab-and-go vendors with options from lobster rolls, to Taiwanese bao buns, authentic Mexican fare or Southern po’ boys, is the brain child of Windsor Resort, the company behind Trimper’s Rides.
The company hopes to deliver a redefined experience where Inlet Village once stood.
12817 Harbor Road
Expected to open in the summer months, Pier 23 — situated where Mad Fish Bar and Grille used to stand in West Ocean City — is a Taustin Group venture unlike any other.
It’s being built out of renovated shipping containers.
Hoping to be the first of its kind in the commercial fishing harbor, Pier 23 will offer a unique experience, with “the best in elevated street food, craft cocktails and entertainment.”
What’s going there:Ocean City getting new restaurant, drive-thru Chipotle and more
4507 Coastal Highway
Look out for “38.37-75.07 Lookout Lounge” on your next trip to the beach. Dubbing itself Ocean City’s “newest rooftop lounge and bar,” the business has its eyes set on offering all things food and craft cocktails with bayside views.
After a soft opening in early May, the new spot planned to open to the public beginning May 20, by reservation.
106 32nd St.
Ocean 13 lost its home when owners of The Beach Plaza Hotel, one of Ocean City’s oldest Boardwalk hotels, announced it would close permanently before this season.
Now,Ocean 13 is expected to announce its summer opening soon, from a new location — at 106 32nd St. The eatery and bar redefined the space, with construction stretching from the location announcement in February, to May’s final touches.
A new Ocean City eatery is headed to the 118th Street Food Lion Shopping Center, where a Blockbuster once stood. Fast Eddie’s Corner Bar and Grill aims to open in the summer months.
“Fast Eddies is going to be an electric, fun, chill atmosphere,” Eddie Johnson wrote in a Facebook post March 30. “A place where you can come have fun for happy hour, and then come back and enjoy one of our entrees with a date or a group of friends. We plan to please the masses.”
Frog Bar with a new location
221 Wicomico St.
With a frog mascot dancing its way through a TikTok, Frog Bar in Ocean City unveiled its new bayside location March 17. It came after the December announcement that the bar would not reopen at its former inlet location.
The bar and eatery plans to open on the bay and offer plenty of views. An initial opening was delayed in late April, but now the business planned to kick everything off by May 20.
12513 Ocean Gateway
A new steak and smokehouse restaurant had a March grand opening in West Ocean City. Coastal Smokehouse boasts hand-cut steaks, made-from-scratch sides, specialty grilled or smoked dishes, as well as an “extensive” bourbon collection.
Pack Da Bowl
11617 Coastal Highway
A new restaurant has opened ahead of the coming beach season, and it’s about everything grain bowls, salads and wraps.
“Pack it or wrap it,” says new Ocean City takeout eatery Pack Da Bowl. The newcomer to Oyster Bay shopping village looks to offer healthy options in both salads and grain bowls, served in either a bowl or wrap.
The menu offers a chimichurri steak grain bowl with white rice, chimichurri marinated steak, chipotle chicken, seared ahi tuna, sautéed peppers and onions, goat cheese and chimichurri sauce, street corn salad and more.
New Bourbon Street on the Beach location
12601 Coastal Highway
Bourbon Street on the Beach’s patio seating, indoor dining and bar are headed to a new locale.
Sliding in behind the Holiday Inn and in front of Northside Park, the restaurant planned to open the location the first week in May. The new setup will still be shooting for “upscale dining in a casual atmosphere.”
Chipotle in North OC
12601 Coastal Highway
A Chipotle location is headed to North Ocean City, confirmed the OC Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association.
The Mexican-fare, fast, casual chain location is expected to come with a drive-thru and restaurant space, as it slides into the former home of Blue Ox Steak House. An anticipated opening date has not been shared.
Remember “Rodney the Lifeguard?” Ocean City beckons Americans back to beach with new ad campaign
Thelma’s Coffees & Confections
2800 Baltimore Ave.
Thelma’s Coffees & Confections is now open in Dunes Manor Hotel, Court and Suites. From “signature blends” of coffee, to homemade doughnuts and other treats, the new shop should add to the patron experience — or those wondering off the Boardwalk.
5909 Coastal Highway, Suite 4
The independently owned and operated Monkee’s of Ocean City officially opened its doors on Coastal Highway by Feb. 26 — providing locals and visitors “the ultimate selection of designer shoes, clothing and accessory products.”
Michelle Fager, who works with her husband, John, on his well-known restaurant Fager’s Island, owns the new boutique. The pair also helps oversee operations at the Lighthouse Club and Edge hotels, as well as the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin, according to a news release from the shop.
Magnolia Rifle Boutique opens location No. 2, for kids
Magnolia Rifle Boutique announced a second location — Magnolia Rifle Kids — by February of this year. The new spot is headed to Ocean City.
“We will be carrying sizes Newborn to 6 years. (A few bigger sizes mixed in here and there but NB-6Y will be our core),” the announcing post reads. “Our new space will also house an upstairs entirely for e-commerce and offices.”
Second Angry Axe & Rage Room location eyes West OC
One location was not enough for this ax-throwing, stuff-smashing business model.
With a Salisbury location opened by mid-March, “the only place on the Eastern Shore to throw axes and break stuff!” is also coming to West Ocean City — according to a Facebook page created by The Angry Axe & Rage Room.
Slated to be in Outlets Ocean City, this location will have 15 lanes and five rage rooms, according to the website. Patrons are told to look out for an opening date soon.
What’s new in Ocean City hotels, event space?
Holiday Inn renovations
1701 Atlantic Ave.
Holiday Inn & Suites in Ocean City is set for the summer season after an extensive renovation and a newly renovated restaurant to match.
Coral Reef Restaurant and its mothership hotel are manicured and ready for 2021 tourists.
“Our entire property is nearing the end of an extensive renovation,” the eatery wrote on Facebook. “We are waiting to serve you and create new memories. Allow our professional, knowledgeable staff make your dining experience and visit to Ocean City memorable.”
Princess Royale renovations add new bar, more
9100 Coastal Highway
The Princess Royale Ocean Front Resort has changes in the works for the summer season. Among various renovations throughout the hotel, it’s sun terrace is transforming to an open-air experience: “The Current.”
The bar and restaurant is seeking employees, as it prepares to deliver “a range of standout dishes, exotic cocktails, local craft beers and live entertainment.” Expected this summer, The Current’s exact opening date has yet to be posted.
Royale Roasters in the hotel had a soft opening in April, and is set to offer Starbucks this season.
Newly renovated lounge in the Hilton
3200 N. Baltimore Ave.
The Rumbas Lounge, among many renovations in the Hilton Suites Ocean City, will take on a completely new look this season. The lounge remains a spot for “a lite lunch or dinner and a cold beverage to help you unwind and enjoy” more of your Ocean City vacation.
The hotel’s restaurant, 32 Palm, is also looking new for the summer months.
Buckingham Hotel becomes Commander Beach House
1405 N. Baltimore Ave.
Baltimore Avenue’s Buckingham Hotel is now “The Commander Beach Hotel,” just steps away from the Boardwalk. Tourists looking for a getaway can still look for king, double rooms, efficiencies and two- or three-bedroom apartments at this “charming hotel.”
Coastal 59 event venue
5909 Coastal Highway
Barefoot Beach Bride has added a wedding, conference and event space to its roster for this season.
With neutral tones, painted-brick walls, visible pipes and steel beams overhead, some once-unsightly elements are now celebrated for their charm. And more elements can be added to suit a wedding or other event.
“Our new Venue Space has a different twist than any other venue in Ocean City,” reads the website. “From small to large gatherings, we offer an array of options to host your ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner, bridal party celebration, nonprofit events, corporate event or meeting space.”
Dhimas Bayside Suites set for downtown
8 St. Louis Ave.
Lookout for the 10-unit hotel set for St. Louis Avenue. A site plan for the Dhimas Bayside Suites was approved by the Ocean City Planning and Zoning Commission in February of this year. The previous site was demolished in January.
The two-story Dhimas Bayside Suites will house five rooms under 500 square feet on each floor, according to plans.
What restaurants have changed?
From BJ’s to the Atlantic Beach House
The new restaurant is being run by the same operators behind Ropewalk and Alley Oops in Ocean City. Fisher Architecture is working with Ropewalk Properties to design and construct a two-story bayfront establishment, according to the company.
This new restaurant will include a sandy beachfront area along the water, nearly 9,000 square feet of dining, including more than 700 square feet of rooftop terrace with a bar, according to Fisher.
Construction is set to begin this fall, with an anticipated completion of summer 2022.
New mixed use space set for former Phillips Crab House site
2004 N. Philadelphia Ave.
The former site of Phillips Crab House in north Ocean City will be completely redeveloped into a mixture of multifamily apartments with retail and restaurant spaces, as previously reported by Delmarva Now.
The developer, Ocean Two LLC, received approval for its 6,840-square-foot building at the corner of 141st Street and Coastal Highway.
The structure will contain 36 apartments and up to five commercial spaces, according to the presentation during the April 20 meeting. The plan continues to make its way through approval processes.
12849 Ocean Gateway
A new West Ocean City dining spot was announced in March with a timely concept: combining indoor and outdoor dining, alongside a bar. “OC Eateries” was expected to open in spring 2021, according to its website, but it’s unclear when the vision will be coming together.
Planet Wings, Pizza E Birra, Love’s Lemonade, Tiki Tako, Pita Grille, MacAttack — are some vendors are listed for the space.
“Modern, market-style eatery and bar, OC Eateries will offer guests indoor and outdoor dining options and an electric atmosphere,” the site reads. “Brick-oven Pizza, Street Tacos, all-natural Wings and more. Plus, the best specialty drinks in Ocean City.”