OCEAN CITY — The Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) this week announced the finalists for its annual awards gala later this spring and once again the resort area is well represented with nominees in several categories.
Ocean City’s restaurant community has brought home more than its share of the annual RAM awards in recent years and will have ample opportunity to add to the growing list this year. RAM’s annual industry awards recognize establishments across Maryland for excellence in the hospitality business in several categories. In many categories, the winners are chosen by the dining public, while others are chosen strictly by association members.
This year, the resort area has two nominees in the Restaurateur of the Year category including La Hacienda owner and operator Bill Herbst and Galaxy 66 owner and operator Tammy Patrick-Cebula. The Restaurateur of the Year award is one of the categories voted on by association members.
“It is definitely an honor,” said Herbst, whose La Hacienda was recently entered into RAM’s Hall of Honor. “This nomination is the product of a team effort. Obviously, being here 33 years, I can’t say enough about my staff, the people who make my job as the owner and operator easier.”
The local Restaurateur of the Year nominees are just the tip of the iceberg for the resort’s restaurant community this year. Nominated as Favorite New Restaurant was de Lazy Lizard. Shenanigans was nominated as Favorite Bar or Tavern, while Sobo’s Wine Beerstro in Salisbury has been nominated for Craft Brew Program of the Year.
“It’s a great honor because I’m familiar with some of the other places on the short list and I know how great a job they do,” said Shenanigans owner Greg Shockley. “I’m lucky to have this location and I’ve always had a great staff. It really is amazing considering we’re a seasonal business.”
Shenanigans and de Lazy Lizard’s categories will be voted on by the public through RAM’s website.
“I guess we’ll create a social media campaign to get the vote out,” he said. “We’re at a little bit of a disadvantage because we’re not open and we’re a seasonal business.”
Ocean City’s prominence on the list of nominees over the past few years, considering the industry heavyweights also on the lists, helps solidify a change in the perception of the resort area from a French fry and pizza town to a culinary destination.
“Ocean City is well represented in almost every category,” said Shockley. “It just shows the quality of places we have here.”