OCEAN CITY — The Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) this week announced the nominees for its annual awards, and the resort area will once again have a strong presence in the event with a local establishment nominated in nearly every major category.
RAM will hold its 57th Annual “Stars of the Industry” gala in May, showcasing some of the top restaurants in the state in several categories. Once again, the Ocean City area will be well represented with five nominees in several of the most prestigious categories.
For example, Billy Carder, who owns and operates BJ’s on the Water, an Ocean City landmark for over 30 years, has been nominated for Restaurateur of the Year. Joining Carder on the prestigious list of nominees for the award are Joe Barbera of AIDA Bistro, Pat Karzai of The Helmand, Jeff Heineman of the Grapeseed Bistro and Karen Murray of TJ’s of Calverton.
“Frankly, I was shocked and really caught off guard,” he said. “I had some people call and congratulate me even before it was officially announced.”
Unlike many of the other categories, the Restaurateur of the Year category is voted on strictly by RAM members.
“I am truly flattered to be nominated,” he said. “I don’t think you could have any greater honor than being recognized by your peers.”
Carder’s nomination is just one of five for establishments in the area.
In another major category, Sunset Grille in West Ocean City joins an impressive field of candidates for the Favorite Restaurant award that also includes Lewne’s Steakhouse, Casey Jones, Ryleigh’s Oyster Bar and Dutch’s Daughter. Sunset Grille General Manager Buddy Trala this week attributed the nomination to his staff.
“Everybody who works at Sunset Grille, from the managers on down, takes a lot of pride in what we do here,” he said. “We’re very proud to be nominated and hope to bring it back to Ocean City.”
The Favorite Bar or Tavern category includes two popular resort area establishments out of the six nominated, including Fish Tales and Harborside Bar and Grill. For Harborside, this year’s nomination is the second in a row in the category.
“It was great to be nominated once, but to be included again is a great honor,” said co-owner Chris Wall. “We feel very fortunate to be recognized and hopefully this will be our year.”
For Fish Tales, this year’s nomination is a first. Owner Donna Harman this week attributed the nomination to her staff and loyal patrons.
“We are excited and honored to receive such a prestigious nomination,” she said. “It really means a lot to us. It’s a tribute to our amazing, hard-working staff. We would like to thank them as well as our loyal customers who make working at Fish Tales so much fun.”
Another local establishment making its second appearance on the RAM award nomination list is the Galaxy 66 Bar and Grille, which was nominated again for Wine and Beverage Program of the Year. Owner Tammy Cebula said this week she is honored to be nominated and pointed out a growing local presence on the annual list of nominees.
“We’re all very excited about being nominated,” she said. “What’s really exciting is the strong showing for Ocean City. We have a great restaurant community here and the rest of the state is taking notice.”
RAM strongly urges the dining public to cast their votes for their favorite nominees in each category by visiting www.marylandrestaurants.com/gala.
The voting is open until April 8. The winners will be announced at RAM’s “Stars of the Industry” gala at Martin’s West in Baltimore on May 16.