OCEAN CITY – As Catch 54 settles into its new restaurant, a new addition will soon arrive next door to accommodate the summer crowd that misses the old building’s outdoor vibe.
After a devastating fire a couple of summers ago, Catch 54, re-opened just a couple days before Memorial Day last summer just in time to show off the new buildings during the peak season.
The new restaurant, which is located on Route 54 not even a mile off of Coastal Highway, lies within the same footprint of the old but was built to accommodate a more year-round establishment. Previously, the first floor was open to the outside with a tiki bar and with a different layout upstairs.
The building today has indoor seating on the first and second floor, as well as both floors have a deck with outdoor seating where a spectacular view of the bay can be taken in. The view of the bay is not limited to deck seating as all exterior walls are covered by windows.
Both floors are equipped with bars, but the first is accompanied by a fireplace, perfect for winter ambiance. There is now room for total seating of 150 people, the upstairs seating up to 100 people alone, which has created interest for hosting events, such as weddings and large private dinner parties.
General Manager Jim Affeldt explained along with the changes to the restaurant came changes to the menu, upgrading it to include fresh and local ingredients.
“We still have that fish house feel where. Everything is fresh and everything is local,” Affeldt said.
Everyday Catch 54 has a choice of three to four fresh fish to choose from. The restaurant also works closely with local farms for produce, such as Good Earth Market in Ocean View, Del.
A popular entrée Affeldt pointed out is the Seafood Gumbo that includes oysters, shrimp, scallops, pork sausage, okra, scallions and cheese grits. Another popular dish found under the butcher’s selection portion of the menu is the Grilled Veal Meatloaf that is served with two sides.
There is a cooking demo held at Catch 54 once a month, usually the first Tuesday. Every month there is theme to what food is prepared, for example in December it was foods to make during the holidays.
“It is a time to really get to know our chefs,” Affeldt said. “You can ask any questions about the food or about cooking in general.”
There is room for 40 people to join the free event. It is held on the upper floor of the restaurant and instructed by Catch 54’s Corporate Chef Doug Ruley and Executive Chef Matt Kern.
Catch 54 is open Monday through Thursday at 4 p.m. and Friday through Sunday at 11:30 a.m. with happy hour daily starting at 6 p.m. Catch 54 is a restaurant owned by the company, SoDel Concepts, led by Matt Haley. Other restaurants owned by the company include Fish On Seafood Grill and Bar, Plate Catering, Bluecoast Seafood Grill and Raw Bar, Matt’s Fish Camp, Northeast Seafood Kitchen, Lupo Di Mare Cucina Italiana, and the company’s charity, Global Delaware Fund.
The next restaurant to open will be a laid back authentic Mexican entity called Papa Grande’s and will be located right next door to Catch 54 in the bright blue barn.
The plans are in place for the establishment but no opening dates have been established quite yet as permits are being processed.
“One thing we heard when we re-built this [Catch 54] … is people miss that outside tiki bar where they could come up off of their boat in their bathing suits,” Affeldt said. “Well the plan is that is what Papa Grande’s is going to be. It is going to be an outside tiki bar with a deck, simple tacos with quiche guacamole … it will be authentic food of what you would get off the streets in Mexico.”
With both restaurants located on the Sharks Cove Marina, visitors by boat or land can choose the atmosphere they prefer, laid back Mexican or an enjoyable sit-down dinner.
“What makes SoDel different is our culture, we believe in that and it’s why we do things a little bit differently here,” Affeldt said. “When it comes to the food aspect it is just fresh, local and affordable.”