OCEAN CITY – If you have ever been to Charlie’s Bayside Restaurant, a tropical paradise tucked away in Fenwick Island, the chances are you have been welcomed by one of the owners on nearly every visit.
Charlie Getz bought the restaurant in 1993, which was formally the Fenwick Feed Bag. He had worked there nine years prior as the manager. In 1998, Getz took on a partner, Melvin Shiflett, who had recently retired from his own business.
Charlie’s Bayside is operated through team work. Getz’s wife, Laura, runs the front of the house, while Charlie cooks and creates the menu and Melvin runs the books.
“We are all very accessible because we are here all the time,” Getz said. “Everybody knows who we are … we don’t try to hide.”
Getz added that Laura plays a pivotal role in how the restaurant operates and it’s her “green thumb” that is responsible for creating their outdoor tropical paradise. He added that the outdoor seating area is the big draw to the restaurant during the summer season.
“She’s [Laura] the glue that holds it all together,” he said. “We will get an hour wait on the deck because people just want to sit out there. We’re on a nice canal and there is a lot of wild life out there, it’s just relaxing.”
Charlie’s Bayside seats about 200 in total, with seating for around 60 on the outside deck. Getz said, “We try to have a nice casual tropical atmosphere with our deck, that’s the kind of feel we go for.”
He added that the food is always consistent and that they have customers that come back every summer while they are in town on vacation.
“It’s mostly seafood,” Getz said. “We have steaks and prime rib but we specialize in fish and crab dishes.”
Charlie’s Bayside’s menu includes appetizers, soups, salads, entrees, a vast seafood selection, sandwiches and a kids menu.
“There is a couple dishes here like the Parmesan Encrusted Grouper that people love,” Getz said. “It’s crazy how much people come back for that.”
Charlie’s Bayside provides Happy Hour, Monday through Friday, from 3-6 p.m. Getz said, “We do entertainment all year on Fridays and Saturdays and then during the summer we add Wednesdays in there. It’s mostly classic rock kind of stuff.”
Local musicians are scheduled throughout the summer, such as Christopher Button every Wednesday and John LaMere every Saturday. On Fridays, various bands are scheduled, such as, Kings Ransom, Johnny Mojo, and Petting Hendrix.
Getz said that the restaurant offers a “friendly atmosphere.” They hire around 25-30 servers each summer to supply adequate service to the demand.
“Our staff is very friendly,” he said. “We try not to make it like a corporate restaurant.”
Getz is confident it will be a good summer.
“I don’t think gas prices are going to affect Ocean City,” Getz said. “They’re [tourists] not driving that far…it’s not costing that much money for people to drive here and get back home, if it costs another 20 bucks that’s not stopping somebody from going on vacation.”
Getz said Charlie’s Bayside remains consistent in business. They record day-by-day numbers along with the weather so they can look back to the previous year and predict how busy they will be that day.
“It’s weird because it is almost identical,” he said. “We can look back and know we’re going to be busy because last year was busy — usually the numbers are really close.”
Charlie’s Bayside Restaurant is located on Route 1 and Maryland Avenue, in the Village of Fenwick Shopping Center only one block north of Ocean City.
“One of our assets is also one of our biggest problems,” Getz said. “It’s tucked away and its nice and when people get back here they’re like ‘wow it’s kind of cool back here’ but you can’t see us from the highway.”
Getz said that he has been in the business for a long time and is looking forward to this summer just as he does every season.
“Good times are always on the house here,” he said.