OCEAN CITY – J/R’s Ribs is celebrating its 32nd year anniversary as well as the return of its creator, Jack Hubberman, to the restaurant’s uptown Ocean City location.
In 1980, Hubberman opened J/R’s Ribs on 62nd Street and four years later opened its second location on 131st Street.
“After a lot of research and a strong feeling that rib restaurants are needed in Ocean City, we decided to open,” Hubberman said. “We were the first. None of the restaurants here were selling ribs. Now everybody is selling them but my barber, and if he had the recipe he would be doing it, too.”
Jerry Sinnott, who now runs the mid-town location with his wife, Debi, and son, Justin, said that when 62nd Street opened it was such a success that it was only natural for the northern location to open, which is a much bigger property and includes atrium seating and a new sports bar and lounge.
Sinnott joined the team in 1989 as 62nd Street’s bar manager. He moved up to be the establishment’s manager and eventually took over both J/R’s Ribs locations in 2007. Sinnot and his family ran the restaurants for about four and half years.
Hubberman said the most recent change in J/R’s history is “Jack is back.” He rejoined the team by leaving his retirement behind and returned to the 131st Street location, while the Sinnotts remain to run 62nd Street. Lou Catalfamo, who at one time was the general manager of J/R’s Ribs in Rehoboth Beach, also postponed retirement and joined Hubberman at 131st Street as its new general manager.
“I would love for customers and friends from over the years to come in and say hello,” Hubberman said.
Both locations provide ample parking and have been beautifully renovated and remodeled. The mid-town location provides seating for 240 people and the uptown location provides seating for 400-plus. It also has room for large parties and has added a lunch menu served on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m.
“It’s a family friendly atmosphere,” Catalfamo said of both locations.
On 131st Street, the sports bar and lounge includes a 40-foot oak bar and several large flat screen TV’s. The space is decorated in Ravens’ décor but Hubberman explained they also support the Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He added that they will provide a NFL sports package on cable during this upcoming football season so all fans can come watch their favorite team play. Happy Hour is from 4 to 10 p.m. where specials are provided on domestic drafts, well drinks and food.
“All these years everybody still feels that J/R’s is the place for ribs but over the years the menu has been increased to seafood and steaks which we feel are the best on the beach,” Hubberman said.
According to Hubberman, J/R’s prime rib is outstanding, the crab cakes are unbelievable, and surprisingly to everyone their Maryland crab soup is worth a taste to believe how good it is. He said the steaks are selected from the finest provider and are cooked to anybody’s liking. The restaurant is also famous for its onion loaf, which is cooked in a light batter.
Both locations provide quick and easy carry out that includes the restaurant’s full menu, as well as desserts, ice cold beer and wine.
In 1992, J/R’s Ribs Commissary opened next door to the uptown location on 131st Street. The commissary prepares and cooks some of the restaurant’s specialties and delivers the goods right to its locations in Ocean City.
“We cook the ribs at the commissary and ship them to the restaurants so they are cooked by one crew all the time,” Sinnott said. “So whether you go to the south or north you will get exactly the same ribs prepped by the same people.”
“That is why we have been very happy with the way things have been because our food has remained very consistent,” Hubberman expanded.
The commissary also prepares hand glazed honey spiral hams, crab cakes, J/R’s ribs famous BBQ sauce, and even T-shirts for shipping or pick-up. Any of the merchandise can be placed for order at jrsribs.com.
“The hams we glaze ourselves and they are one of the best hams for year round and especially for holidays,” Hubberman said.
The BBQ sauce has never been changed since it was tweaked a little in 1983 and remains a favorite of many to this day. Hubberman added that the ribs J/R’s serve have been provided by the same company since it opened because they are the best ribs on the market.
“We never put a different rib in this restaurant,” he said. “They’re meaty and they’re cooked to the best you can get them. They are right on the button — the same temperature, same method of cooking, nothing has changed and it is the same product.”
Hubberman said J/R’s has not raised its prices on ribs in over three years.
“With the economy the way it is, we have tried to maintain and hold down prices but have the same exact quality,” he said. “Nothing has changed.”