OCEAN CITY – Over the past 20 years, the Boardwalk has seen a lot of changes and even more faces as business and tourism have evolved. One restaurant that has remained a popular spot on the boards for nearly two decades is Shenanigans Irish Pub and Grille.
Shenanigans has served Ocean City visitors and locals alike with an Irish flair since 1988. Although the name has remained the same for nearly 20 years, it too has seen its fair share of changes.
According to owner and operator Greg Shockley, Shenanigans started out as more of a bar than a restaurant, with a menu that focused on seafood and crabs. Since that time, the menu has seen changes, and Shenanigans has developed more as a restaurant, maintaining the bar atmosphere but also thriving as restaurant.
Over the years, Shenanigans has worked hard on the menu to provide variety for its customers.
“We try to hit as many tastes as possible,” Shockley said, explaining the goal is to develop concepts that will set them apart from the other Boardwalk restaurants.
Currently, the most popular item on the menu is the fish and chips.
“It’s a big hit for us right now, it’s our number one seller,” Shockley said.
The salads and sandwiches are also being tweaked and altered each year to provide new tastes and delights for the customer. Shockley explained the restaurant provides varieties for sandwiches by offering different breads, spreads and toppings.
“It’s not all just fried food and burgers,” Shockley emphasized, listing the various foods that the menu offers from wraps to salads to pasta to a kid’s menu.
The menu may bring customers back every year, but according to Shockley the restaurant couldn’t survive without his employees.
“I have been very blessed and lucky with the people that I’ve had come work with me,” Shockley said.
According to Shockley, Shenanigans has developed the reputation of a restaurant where people want to work. With a handful of people who have been working there for eight to 10 years, and one person who’s been there for 16 years, it’s no surprise that the employees enjoy their jobs.
Many employees are related or heard about Shenanigans employment through a friend who works there. This year Shenanigans has 16 families, sibling combos and likewise, that are employed. Shockley feels that it’s that kind of trust and reliability that makes a restaurant run smoothly.
“I’ve been very lucky with my help and I couldn’t get anywhere without them,” he added.
The menu and the employees are just a couple of elements that make Shenanigans a success. Shockley considers the location to be a huge factor in drawing in customers. With a great view of the beach, ocean and Boardwalk, Shenanigans is in a prime spot for relaxing and enjoying the view. The large outside deck with outside seating gives customers a chance to admire the view and all the excitement of the Boardwalk. “The boardwalk is one of the greatest shows on earth,” he said.
The Irish music also adds to the experience.
“Irish music is for all ages,” he said, explaining that people of all ages can be seen gathered together and enjoying the Irish tunes.
With 20 years of experience in the restaurant business, Shockley has weathered all of the changes in tourism and business particularly the change in the way that people vacation. According to Shockley, people used to consistently vacation from Saturday to Saturday, Memorial Day through Labor Day. Nowadays, vacationers stay for shorter periods of time and also come in the extended season.
“The city and locals have done a great job expanding the season,” Shockley said, mentioning events such as Bike Week in the fall that bring big crowds. “The fall really is the best time of year to be in Ocean City,” he added.
Being in the restaurant business has provided Shockley with both perks and headaches. One perk for Shockley has been his involvement in the town.
“Being in this business has allowed me to have a voice in the tourism in this town,” he said.
As a former board member of the Boardwalk Development Association, former president of the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant-Association and current president of the Ocean City Development Corporation, Shockley has become more than involved in the community.
There have however been challenges and headaches. Shockley described the anticipation as the biggest challenge, explaining that you could prepare for a season and do everything right, but could still face terrible weather. As a business owner in a weather dependent town, it’s hard to prepare for everything Shockley said.
Despite the challenges, Shockley loves to see all the hard work come together.
“To see all the people come together and have a successful season is very rewarding,” he said