OCEAN CITY – The Marina Deck is amid its first full summer season with the new addition of the rooftop Wild Pony Bar that captures scenic views of Assateague Island and West Ocean City and all of the activity in between.
Marina Deck’s long history in Ocean City began when the property was acquired by Frank Parsons in the 1930s and was operated as a bakery. In the center of Marina Deck’s current kitchen still stands a portion of the home where the bakery operated out of and the restaurant still carries out its baking operations there today.
According to Marina Deck owner Dennis Kalchthaler, Parsons sold the property in the 1940s to Orlando Bunting, who leased the space out to a family that operated the Marina Deck restaurant for 17 years. In 1967, Bunting changed it over to Bunting’s Marina Deck.
In 1977, Frank Hanna purchased the property, transferring the name to Hanna’s Marina Deck. In 1980, a large deck over the bay was added to the one-story restaurant providing a much larger seating area.
In 2001, Kalchthaler made the switch over from manager to owner when he purchased the restaurant returning its name to Marina Deck.
Last year Kalchthaler made the latest addition to the restaurant by building a roof top deck with a bar and seating as well as putting in an indoor kids play
“Coming up here after a really busy night sitting on the rooftop having a beer and looking around, I always thought it would be nice to have a bar and dining area up here,” said Kalchthaler as he sat in the finished product last Friday. “I knew it would be a good experience.”
When Superstorm Sandy hit three years ago, the one-story Marina Deck was left under two feet of water. Facing reconstruction of the building’s structure, Kalchthaler saw it as the perfect opportunity to make the additions.
“I am all in,” he said. “Either it is going to work or not going to work.”
The Wild Pony Bar and dining opened on Aug. 2, 2013. Originally, the restaurant had 300 seats but the addition of the rooftop deck adds close to another 200 seats.
The Marina Deck lives up to its name as most of the first and second floor sit over the bay by deck, and with the new addition of seating an opportunity arrived to change up the original dining room on land to something different.
At that time of reconstruction, Kalchthaler’s family suggested also adding a kids play area. Going with it, Kalchthaler chose to go with an indoor play area
to bring a unique aspect to an on-island Ocean City destination.
The three-story indoor play area has an entrance/exit on both the first and second floor of the Marina Deck and holds 70 kids with 12 different activities, such as obstacle courses, pogo sticks and two slides.
“I want this to be another destination in Ocean City. That was my focus,” Kalchthaler said. “I am trying to keep people on island instead of heading over to West Ocean City more.”
Kalchthaler has carried on some of Marina Deck’s traditions but throughout the years he has added twists of his own.
Baked traditions are carried on, especially the popular coconut and blueberry muffins, but Marina Deck’s award winning cream of crab soup was added to the menu by Kalchthaler, among other recipes.
Even Charles Blake, who started out as a bread boy at Marina Deck, remains as kitchen manager, working at the restaurant for 31 years now,
The menu is sprawled across a wide variety of appetizers to salads, deli and hot sandwiches, entrees, including fresh seafood platters, and even all-you-can-eat shrimp, blue crab and snow crab feasts.
Located on Dorchester Street just past the Route 50 Bridge, Marina Deck opens daily at 11 a.m. offering happy hour daily from 3-6 p.m.
Kalchthaler pointed out the restaurant is easy to access coming from north Ocean City by taking a right onto 17th Street and driving south down St. Louis Ave. to miss congestion and traffic lights, or if entering town from the Route 50 Bridge take the second right onto Dorchester Street and Marina Deck is straight ahead with ample parking.
“Once people come up and experience it, they will be coming back again, and again, and make a tradition out of it,” Kalchthaler said of the rooftop. “Pictures just don’t give it the full effect.”