Balancing A Manager’s Heart With An Owner’s Intensity

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OCEAN CITY – It’s barely past noon at the Marina Deck, and already owner Dennis Kalchthaler can be seen scurrying around the restaurant, masterfully preparing for another busy Friday at one of the gems of the downtown area, the Marina Deck Restaurant.

The Marina Deck, located on Dorchester Street just past the Route 50 Bridge, is situated with a spectacular view of the busy marina and the glistening water.

The 300-seat restaurant carries the family atmosphere as well as the feel of the boat docks located just outside the door. The old wood and classic décor make one feel right at home. The lobster tank teeming with plus-sized lobsters can be seen as soon as one enters, coupling with the smells of all sorts of delightful foods.

Kalchthaler bought the restaurant in 2001 with partners Carole and Greg Spurrier. The previous owner was Frank Hanna, and although Kalchthaler carried over some of the popular items and traditions from the days of Hanna, he has provided his own unique ideas and recipes to the mix as well.

Kalchthaler, a Pocomoke native, is certainly not foreign to the ways of Ocean City or the restaurant business. He got his first taste of the restaurant business working at the original Alaska Stand downtown through high school. He also spent 12 years managing Dumser’s Restaurant, acquiring all the necessary skills to run a restaurant with finesse.

Making the switch from manager to owner proved to be a breeze for Kalchthaler who explained that for him, there is no difference between the two. When asked the difference, Kalchthaler replied, “nothing for me, I’ve always managed like an owner.”

Kalchthaler certainly hasn’t taken a step back since becoming an owner either, working six to seven days a week. Kalchthaler remains more than hands on, explaining that he is there nearly every day from open to close doing, “whatever’s needed.”

Kalchthaler describes the bread as one of the most popular items. “People come back for the bread and muffins,” he said.

The bread boy or girl visits each table, offering a variety of mouthwatering breads. The bread was a popular item that was featured when Hanna was the owner and has continued its popularity under Kalchthaler. The bread room, set aside strictly for the purpose of turning out muffin after muffin, produces coconut and blueberry muffins, rye bread and raisin bread.

The cream of crab soup is also a popular item, carrying with it the bragging rights to three awards.

Kalchthaler added that the crab cakes are big sellers as well as all of the other seafood platters. The crab pretzel is a popular appetizer that always wins customers over.

The menu ranges from lobster to fried shrimp to burgers and fries. The certified Angus beef found in the New York strip steak and the prime rib are favorites as well. Lobster can be ordered fresh from the tank and fresh fish is presented daily, ranging from mahi-mahi to salmon.

Happy hour occurs seven days a week at Marina Deck, from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 2-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The kids are certainly not left out at this family restaurant. The kids have a wide selection of items to choose from on the kid’s menu. A kid’s room is also located in the back of the restaurant, allowing parents to enjoy their meal and kids to enjoy fun activities. Don’t worry parents; the kid’s room is supervised at all times.

Marina Deck expanded in November 2006 with a second restaurant in Ocean Pines located in the South Gate. The Ocean Pines location offers live piano entertainment on Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as a Sunday brunch. The Ocean Pines location is open year-round, while the downtown location is open April through October.

Every day Kalchthaler runs a tight ship, working his employees hard but having fun with them at the same time. He explained that in the peak season he has 95 to 100 employees.

“People like to work for us,” he said, adding that a majority of the staff is made up of local college students.

For Kalchthaler, who works with the heart of a manager and the intensity of an owner, his job couldn’t be more fulfilling. He summarized customer service as his greatest enjoyment and concluded that there is nothing that he dislikes about the restaurant business.

“It’s what makes it so enjoyable, loving what you’re doing,” he said.

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