Plans for New Dough Roller Rise From Ashes

OCEAN CITY –The Dough Roller on South Division Street and the Boardwalk may not be opening their doors for business this season due to a devastating fire earlier this year, but plans are already underway for the construction of the new Dough Roller, with hope to have it up and running by next spring.

Initial site plan approval was given to the southernmost Dough Roller this week, after a presentation of the new plans to the Planning Commission.

Zoning Administrator Blaine Smith explained that the goal is to lay the foundation prior to this season, return for final site plan approval and commence construction in the fall. The ultimate goal however is to be open by next spring, to avoid losing another summer of business.

The Dough Roller was destroyed in a massive fire in March, leaving owner Bill Gibbs no choice but to demolish what remained and start from scratch. The cause of the fire still remains unknown.

Some things about the new Dough Roller will be different. The apartments that took up the second floor of the building, along with the retail operation to the north of the restaurant, will not be included in the new plans. “They will be strictly a commercial business on the Boardwalk,” said Smith.

Gibbs explained his decision to eliminate the housing above the restaurant, noting that financial and time constraints left him with few options.

“Housing doesn’t pay – you just can’t get enough people in there to offset the construction costs,” said Gibbs. According to Gibbs, the construction costs of adding the second floor apartments to the plan would significantly increase the cost of rebuilding, a cost he can’t absorb and refuses to pass on to the tenants or to the customers.

Time is also paramount, said Gibbs. “I don’t think we would be back open in time, it’s going to be hard enough to make it now.” 

The apartments aren’t the only feature that will be absent from the new building, all of the décor from the interior of the restaurant was destroyed, a loss that cannot be easily replaced.

The old Dough Roller was filled with classic antiques such as the old lunch boxes, the infamous Ninja Turtle, and a signed Herschel Carousel horse. Despite losing these items, Gibbs plans on maintaining the interior design that made up the old Dough Roller, and is already looking for similar items to fill the restaurant.

Ocean City Development Corporation Executive Glenn Irwin signed off on the plans, noting that like the 3rd Street Dough Roller, the new Dough Roller will enhance the downtown area.

Irwin requested that spaces at the back of the building, which were once used for employee parking, be left out of the new plans.

“This gives us an opportunity to one day, and it won’t be tomorrow, make a pedestrian walkway from the Boardwalk to Baltimore Ave. and possibly to Sunset Park,” he said.

Commissioner Lauren Taylor requested that the back of the building, which faces Baltimore Avenue, be enhanced to be more aesthetically pleasing. “It looks like the back of a building and from Baltimore Avenue, that’s the streetscape.”