OCEAN CITY – The local restaurant community was well represented at this week’s Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) “Stars of the Industry” annual gala in Baltimore, with perhaps the town’s most famous establishment adding another feather to its well-decorated cap.
RAM’s annual gala, held at Martin’s West in Baltimore, recognizes some of the top establishments from every corner of the state in several categories and, as usual, Ocean City was well represented. Although none of the local establishments nominated this year took home the night’s top honors, each of the proprietors said going in it was a great honor just to be nominated and included on the short list with some of the best restaurants in the state.
At least one local restaurant and bar continued its run of remarkable success at RAM’s annual gala again this year. Seacrets was inducted into the Maryland Hall of Honor during the gala on Monday, collecting its third honor in the last three years. Two years ago, Seacrets was named Maryland’s favorite bar during the gala, and last year, owner Leighton Moore was named Restaurateur of the Year for 2009.
“It was definitely a great honor for us as an establishment to be recognized in the state’s hospitality Hall of Honor,” said co-general manager Scott Studds this week. “Last year, Leighton was named Restaurateur of the Year, which was great for the restaurant and Leighton individually, but this Hall of Honor award is something we can all share a part of.”
Studds said the honors could help provide a catalyst for future expansion of the Seacrets’ brand.
“We’re trying to use this as a springboard for our franchising efforts,” he said. “We’re definitely looking into doing that and there has been some interest, both internationally and in the continental U.S. We’re not prepared to go forward with that right now, but it is a definite possibility in the future.”
Another popular proprietor in the resort area, Travis Knight, who owns and runs the Shark on the Harbor in West Ocean City with his wife Jody and his talented staff, was nominated for Restaurateur of the Year this year. That honor went to Dorothy and Richard Mollett, proprietors of the Antrim 1844 in Taneytown.
Similarly, the Harborside Bar and Grill in West Ocean City was among the five nominees this year for Favorite Bar or Tavern in Maryland, an honor that ultimately went to The Brewer’s Art in Baltimore. The Galaxy 66 Bar and Grill was nominated for Wine and Beverage Program of the Year this year, but that honor went to the esteemed Charleston Group of Baltimore during Monday’s gala.
Other award winners on Monday included Chef of the Year Bryan Voltaggio, chef and owner of VOLT in Frederick. Fans of the popular television series “Top Chef” will remember Bryan Voltaggio was the runner-up last year, finishing a close second to his brother Michael in the finals. Maryland’s Favorite Restaurant of 2010 went to Jack’s Bistro in Baltimore, while the Blue Hill Tavern in Baltimore was named Maryland’s Favorite New Restaurant on Monday.
Last year, the resort area dominated the annual industry awards sweeping several categories. Moore was named Restaurateur of the Year, Marlin Moon Grille was named Maryland’s Favorite Restaurant, Fager’s Island was named Favorite Bar or Tavern and was inducted into RAM’s Hall of Honor, and Liquid Assets was named Favorite Wine and Beverage Program.