Landmark Stays Current With Eye On Tradition

T.K. Dickerson

Staff Writer

OCEAN CITY – When one is
crossing the Route 50 Bridge, it is hard to believe that any sight is welcomed
more than the sight of the expansive bay. However, tucked right next to the bridge,
the view from The Angler’s dockside bar might be one of the best in town.

Captain Bill Bunting
founded The Angler, modeled after an old fishing cottage, in 1938. His father,
Charlie, who owned the land extending from the Route 50 Bridge to Somerset Street,
distributed the land amongst his four sons. Since then, the land has been sold
to other owners, all save the property on which The Angler sits.

Bunting was the
grandfather of current owners and sisters Julie Bunting Smith and Jayne Bunting
Kendall, who were born and raised on Maryland’s eastern shore. Bill Bunting is
credited with an assortment of things, one of the most notable being that he
tagged and released Ocean City’s first white marlin. However, it was his wife,
Louise, with her goal being to feed the hungry fishermen, who truly started The
Angler restaurant.

Since that time, the
restaurant has been handed down through the Bunting family, making it the
oldest family owned and operated restaurant in Ocean City. It is not unusual to
see the owners’ families stopping by the restaurant after the usual dinner rush
to eat all together, or to see Julie’s oldest daughter, Meegan, helping out at
the desk.

“I love that we’ve been
able to preserve the family interest,” says co owner Jayne Kendall.

Jayne and Julie both own
and run the restaurant, while maintaining the values their family members
before them held dear. In fact, one of the best things about The Angler for
Jayne is that she gets to manage her, “business, while enjoying [her] family”.

Though the restaurant’s
family values, history and “eastern shore seafood house” atmosphere are some of
the restaurant’s most admirable qualities, Jayne and Julie recognize that
tradition can only take the restaurant so far. With a newly decorated interior,
a new line-up of entertainment and other recreational water activities, in
addition to a great menu, it is no wonder the restaurant is still a local and
tourist hit.

In keeping with
tradition, fresh fish and seafood will always be the restaurant’s specialty,
just as Captain Bunting and his wife would have wanted it. Kendall cites
certain menu items such as grouper fingers, wings and The Angler Specialty
Salad, among the most popular menu items.

Other items such as
clams casino, fresh fish sandwiches and multiple combos featuring both seafood
and “landlubbers” food (as the menu playfully cites) are all features of the
menu as well. Just this past year a variety of paninis were added to the lunch
menu, and Kendall says they have been “well received”.

In addition to the menu,
there are certain traditions unique to The Angler that keep loyal patrons
returning year after year. Ever since the late 1960’s, the restaurant has been
offering an after-dinner sunset cruise that is available with the purchase of a
dinner entrée.

The same head boat that
takes out dinner cruises also takes out daily deep sea fishing trips, which
Kendall describes as “great fun for the entire family”. One of the mates on the
boat, Dean Lo, has artwork featured in the newly renovated interior dining

This same dining room
has seen many generations and many different uses. When Jayne and Julie were
younger, reggae bands played at The Angler seven nights a week.

The party has moved from
the dining room to the deck, which has an uninhibited view of the bay and the
lively dock. The Angler features happy hour entertainment on weekends, as well
as a popular deck party late Sunday nights. The owners invite people to “enjoy
watching boats come and go and listen to some music.”