Restaurateur Provides Southern-Style Food, Hospitality

OCEAN CITY – Throughout the history of the Americas, the
pineapple has come to express a sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and
family affection. Most importantly, it symbolizes hospitality, something Eric
Bearinger, owner of the Plantation House Bar and Grille, utilizes as the
forefront of his business.

For a little over two years now, the Plantation House has
sat along the beautiful Herring Creek in West Ocean City, nestled among the
pines that litter the winding creek’s banks. According to Bearinger, the
concept of the restaurant was developed around the waterfront property’s
scenery in order to create a casual restaurant in an upscale setting.

“It’s not your typical beach view, it’s more nature
oriented,” he said. “We came up with the southern-style theme and the menu is
pretty much eclectic Eastern Shore with some southern influence in it.”

Serving fresh fish, prime steaks and salads, all made in
house, Bearinger said consistency plays a key role in his business’s success
since the customer always knows what to expect when they come. He went on to
add that hospitality goes a long way as well.

“I think our service really stands out,” he said. “We
really make an effort to take care of the customers needs no matter how small
they are.”

Plantation House’s clientele is mostly locals from West
Ocean City and Berlin, with some who even come from north Ocean City, according
to Bearinger. Some of their favorite items on the menu include Alaskan crab
legs, crab cakes, the restaurant’s popular combo platters and its blue crab
corn chowder made from scratch.

Bearinger, who enjoys working in the summer when things
are always hopping, said he has spent 25 years in the restaurant industry
owning and managing numerous establishments, such as JW Pickles and Friends in
Georgetown, Del., and the Assateague Crab House in Berlin, to name just a few.

When it comes to running a business like a full-scale
restaurant, he said it takes a dedicated person with a passion for the

“I’m very hands-on,” he said. “My role is to help whoever
needs to be helped, whether that’s a customer or an employee.”

Bearinger’s foray into the restaurant industry began back
in high school when he worked at a private resort and soon became hooked.

“I was able to do a lot of different duties and it was a
really fun experience,” he said.

Shortly after it was time for college where Bearinger said
he attended Shepherd University in West Virginia and majored in hotel/restaurant

During the summers, Bearinger said he spent his time in
Ocean City working in the restaurant industry, and following graduation he
moved to the area that supported him as he traveled down his lifelong career
path, an area he has grown to love.

Although he’s not working among the hustle and bustle of
his past, he said he prefers West Ocean City to that of Ocean City.

“I like West Ocean City, I think it’s a little more laid
back out here and I really think the restaurant trend will continue out here,”
he said.

Bearinger went on to say how six restaurants opened during
2006 in West Ocean City and more will continue to do so as the residential
population balloons.

“I think Route 50 is eventually going to become the
hospitality and retail corridor of Ocean City,” he added.

Without the restaurant industry, Bearinger said he isn’t
sure where he would be today since it is all he has ever known.

As for his future, he said he is in it for the long haul
and does not have any plans to ever retire but is anticipating a busier third
summer as the Plantation House begins to dabble in catering small, local

“I pretty much live here, this is my home, this is my
house,” he said. “I feel comfortable here and I like being here.”