The Saute Cafe was a popular restaurant in rapidly growing north Ocean City in the early 1980′s. Located at 123rd Street and Coastal Highway, the Saute Cafe had developed a loyal following among both locals and numerous condominium owners in that section of town.
Tragedy struck on July 16, 1983 when a fire broke out shortly after 6 a.m. In the course of battling the blaze, Ocean City volunteer fire fighter Jeffrey Dieter, age 24, became trapped in the burning building. He would become the first Ocean City fireman to die in the line of duty in over 45 years. Dieter would receive a fireman’s funeral with firefighters from six states in attendance. A young man from Delaware would be later arrested and convicted of arson.
The Saute Cafe was destroyed and never rebuilt but left a legacy in the resort’s building code. Within a week of the tragic fire, the City Council voted to require automatic sprinkler systems in all new nightclubs and restaurants.
Photo courtesy of Sam Villani, Jr
Eighty years ago, Ocean City’s Boardwalk extended from the Inlet to 15th Street, a total of 25 blocks. Beyond the Boardwalk was a nearly unbroken vista of sand dunes stretching north to the Delaware line. Today only one block on the entire Boardwalk retains the same buildings from that long ago pre-World War II era — the section between 10th … Continue reading
Fager’s Island was the first bar and restaurant on the bayside in what was then the growing midtown area of Ocean City in 1975. John Fager changed the look of the typical local bar scene by adding large glass windows and a magnificent view of the Assawoman Bay at sunset. He combined good music and fine food with a relaxed … Continue reading
The hurricane of Aug. 23, 1933, was the single most important event in the history of Ocean City. It created the Inlet, separated Assateague from Ocean City and ended the pound fishing and railroad eras forever. The creation of the Inlet made possible the commercial harbor and brought about the emergence of the sports fishing industry. Without the Inlet, today’s … Continue reading
The Jolly Roger Amusement Park began in 1963 as an Arnold Palmer Miniature Golf Course and Driving Range. At that time, the city limits ended at 41st Street and the area along the bayside at 30th Street was considered “way up the beach.” Owner Charles “Buddy” Jenkins added kiddie rides the next summer (including a train and a small roller … Continue reading
In the 1950s, a new town known as Ocean Beach was being promoted on the northern end of Assateague Island about five miles south of Ocean City. The development faced several problems, however, including access — there was no bridge to Assateague in those days and the small ferry could only carry three cars. Another problem was the situation with … Continue reading
Jackson’s Casino and the George Washington Hotel were popular locations during World War II. Jackson’s with its live entertainment and slot machines was Ocean City’s favorite nightclub, while the George Washington was the town’s tallest building and featured a ballroom on its top floor. Located on the Boardwalk between 9th and 10th streets, both were Ocean City landmarks. Jackson’s became … Continue reading
Ocean City has had its share of colorful characters over the years. The blind musicians Tex, with his 10-gallon hat, and Shorty, with his banjo and dog Mandy; “Pop” Wendling with over 200 Popeye tattoos and his novelty joke shop; and Boardwalk Elvis (now an icon in Ocean Pines) were just a few of the folks who made memories for … Continue reading
The Pier Ballroom was Ocean City’s most popular teenage hangout in the 1960s. Located on top of the Pier building at Wicomico Street and the Boardwalk, DJ-hosted record hops brought the “under 21 crowd” to Ocean City on a nightly basis. Live entertainment was featured at times and acts such as Chuck Berry, Little Eva, Joey Dee and the Starliters … Continue reading
The Surf and Sands was one of the first motels on the beachfront strip that became known as “Motel Row.” Built by Dirk and Roda Quillin, it stretched from 22nd to 23rd streets along the Boardwalk and opened Memorial Day weekend in 1955. The original motel was two stories high and featured the first kidney-shaped swimming pool in Ocean City. … Continue reading