OCEAN CITY – The former Pirate’s Den traditions will carry on this summer and new traditions will be born at the new Barn 34 in Ocean City.
Mike and Mary Anne Lawson, along with their son, Michael Lawson Jr., opened Barn 34 this week to carry on the legacy of the Pirate’s Den while adding new traditions along the way.
The Lawsons operated the Pirate’s Den for 19 years until the Ocean Voyager motel that contained the restaurant was demolished to make way for La Quinta Inn & Suites that is currently under construction. Prior to Pirate’s Den, the couple managed the Castle in the Sand for 10 years while starting their family.
About a block from the former Pirate’s Den on the corner of Coastal Hwy. and 34th Street was the Christmas Spirit on a piece of property owned by the Collins Family.
“The Collins Family has owned this property since 1974,” Michael Lawson said. “They built the building from seven different barns up and down the east coast, and they asked us to come here about two years ago when they knew the building [Pirate’s Den] was going to be torn down. As soon as we walked into the building we knew, it is a unique spot … they wanted somebody to come in here that was going to keep the integrity of the building.”
Christmas Spirit moved out on Dec. 31, 2013, and by the next day reconstruction had started to turn the merchant space into a two-story restaurant that will seat at least 150 guests.
The aesthetic of Barn 34 is combining items brought over from the Pirates Den while creating a coastal rustic theme to represent the barn wood of the building and Ocean City.
“We are trying to represent Ocean City for what it is. We are a local family that grew up here,” Michael Lawson said.
A nook on the first floor, “Anne’s Tiffany Hippy Room”, has Pirates Den’s booths lined up to offer the same comfortable seating from before.
Michael Lawson said the upstairs bar was made from all recycled barn wood from the building and all mill work was completed by a lumber yard in Snow Hill.
There will be two bars on each floor with the downstairs being a rum and whiskey bar serving many different varieties from low to top shelf rum from across the Caribbean and South America, as well as American whiskey and Scottish scotches.
“Back in the day there was a lot of rum running around this area, from Chincoteague into Ocean City and up to Atlantic City,” Michael Lawson explained. “The saying ‘A real McCoy’ came from the McCoy brothers who would run high-quality rum out of Chincoteague, and we want to keep the Eastern Shore tradition alive.”
The Pirate’s Den’s well-known breakfast menu will transfer to Barn 34, featuring the popular Captain Crunch French Toast and over 10 varieties of eggs benedict.
“Eggs benedict with crab meat, over portabella mushrooms, with avocado- just a bunch of unique combinations that you can’t really get anywhere else,” Michael Lawson said.
New will be Barn 34’s dinner menu that will offer traditional shore dishes with fresh local fish and produce, and as the Lawsons have spent much time in Puerto Rico throughout the years the menu will have a few Puerto Rican dishes added for a twist.
“We have all locals working here for us. It is a local family business, and the surfing community has been so huge for our business, and the local people around here,” Mary Anne Lawson said.
Key leaders on the staff are Executive Chef Pat Sullivan, night manager Mike Convoy and Katie and Kelly Haines, who will be joining Mary Anne running daytime operations. Additionally, Mary Anne will hold her reigns cooking in the kitchen during the day as she has done for the past 30 years.
Special thanks were given to construction manager T.J. Carven.
“He has been amazing he took a year-long renovation and has gotten it done in a couple of months,” Mary Anne Lawson said.
Barn 34 will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. serving breakfast, a light lunch and dinner. Brunch parties will be held on Saturdays and Sundays with live entertainment, as well as live entertainment at night. Pirate’s Den happy hour specials will remain alive at Barn 34 from 4-7 p.m.
“It will be all local bands,” Michael Lawson said. “We are hoping to bring in performances from out of town, so we can get some acts that Ocean City doesn’t have.”
Barn 34 will be available to book special events as well.
“We want to play a role in the community,” Michael Lawson said. “For example, the Ocean City Surf Club just formed and we will be holding events for them. We are very big on helping out the local community since we were all born and raised here.”
Barn 34 opened its doors with a soft opening on Thursday but is planning a grand opening celebration in mid-May.