Local Restaurants Vie For Awards.

OCEAN CITY – On Monday, April 16, the Maryland Restaurant
Association presents its “Stars of the Industry” Annual Industry Gala. An
evening dedicated to recognizing those in the restaurant industry who have been
nominated by both members of the industry and the public as the best of the
best when it comes to pleasing palates.

Categories such as chef of the year, favorite restaurant
and favorite bar/tavern contain nominees from all over the Maryland region,
even a few establishments from Ocean City were chosen to be a part of the
honorable evening.

Among the nominees for the favorite restaurant award is
the Marlin Moon Grille. Located in West Ocean City and owned by Gary and Julie
Beach, Gary Beach said it was like “a cool disbelief” when he first found out
the restaurant was nominated.

“I was kind of shocked,” he said. “It was totally out of
the blue.”

It has been almost eight years since the Marlin Moon
Grille opened its doors in May of 1999 and Beach remains modest about his

“I guess it’s a validation but I think we can do better,”
he said. “It’s a great honor but we strive to do better and get better,
constantly improving.”

When asked what something like this means for his
restaurant, Beach said it was just another step.

“We’ve been doing the same things we’ve been doing for the
past three to four years,” he said. “We’re constantly striving for a better
atmosphere, food and everything else that goes into the dining experience.

As for how he got to this point, Beach said it is probably
because he and his staff care about the restaurant so much, sometimes too much,
he added with a laugh. He also said simplicity is key. “We are not trying to
reinvent the wheel,” he said.

Beach said the entire staff is motivated and encouraged
about the nomination.

“Everybody was excited,” said Beach, regarding when he
broke the news to his staff. “I opened the mail and showed it to our bar manger
Nick Gibson first and he was like, ‘Oh look who we are in here with.’”

Going up against Marlin Moon Grille for restaurant of the
year are some well-known heavy hitters such as Tio Pepe, Ruth’s Chris Steak
House, Antrim 1844, Charleston, Clyde’s, Miss Shirley’s and O’Leary’s Seafood

Beach said he remembers hearing the names of some of the
chefs who work at the other establishments since he was a kid, calling them all
great company. In fact, the owner of Antrim 1844 was Beach’s former club
lacrosse coach.

“There are a few I haven’t heard of but most I’ve been to
or known them from their reputation,” he said.

Beach went on to say his success would not have been
achieved if it were not for the help the Maryland Restaurant Association has
provided over the years.

“We’re just honored and we’re not going to let it go to
our head,” he said. “I would like to wish the best to all the other local
businesses as well.”

other businesses Beach mentioned are The Green Turtle and Seacrets, who are up
for Maryland’s favorite bar/tavern, and Liquid Assets Wine & Martini Bar,
which was nominated in the wine and beverage program of the year.