OCEAN CITY – With three locations within 10 miles up and running this summer, Bahama Mamas is a household name in Ocean City and there are plans underway to expand that reputation in new ways.
Bahama Mamas co-owner Ernie Emerson, joined by business partner Kathy Emerson, started out in Baltimore where he established the restaurant and ran it for 10 years along with a marine construction company before he and his family decided to make the move to Ocean City. The Baltimore location was voted best crabs several years in row by Baltimore Magazine.
“Well we just like the resort town,” Emerson said. “We vacationed here so we decided to buy a business down here.”
Bahama Mamas’ first location in Ocean City was on Wicomico Street and opened in 1997. About eight years later, Emerson redeveloped the property and built Emerson Towers, a condominium complex with a brand new glass-enclosed Bahama Mamas’ overlooking the bay.
In 1999, Emerson opened a carry-out location 50 feet over the Maryland line into Fenwick Island, Del.
In 2000, a Bahama Mamas opened on 78th Street and was there for six years until Emerson decided to move the third location to 132nd Street and to this day thinks it was the best move yet.
The downtown location on Wicomico Street is known for its view being enclosed by glass never losing sight of the bay, along with a large outside deck.
“The view there is spectacular with the sunset and overlooking Assateague Island,” Emerson said.
Boat slips are provided for those who wish to visit via water and live entertainment is played outside seven days a week. The establishment seats 150 outside and 100 on the inside.
Bahama Mamas on 132nd Street offers more seating specializing in big parties. It seats 150 outside and 200 on the inside. Live music is scheduled Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
Bahama Mamas’ menu covers it all from soups, salads and appetizers to sandwiches, steamer pots and meals for land lovers as well as the sea, but obviously when it comes to crabs all bases are covered.
Medium, large, extra-large, jumbo, and monster crabs are sold by the dozen, half bushel and bushel.
Three different all-you-can-eat feasts are offered with crabs, fried chicken, ribs and steamed shrimp.
“We specialize in jumbo crabs in all three locations,” Emerson said. “I am a certified, bona fide, crabologist. I am the only one in Ocean City, self-proclaimed … we weigh all of our crabs. We don’t judge them by shell size. Every crab is put on the scale to measure up to your expectations.”
According to Emerson, an item takes all by surprise is the Bahama Mamas Mother of All Mothers Eastern Shorebilly Steamer Pot, which is four whole lobsters, eight blue crabs, four snow crab clusters, one pound of steamed shrimp, two dozen clams, two dozen mussels, corn on the cob and red potatoes that can at least feed a family of four and served at market price.
Another popular item served at the north location daily is the lobster dinner with a whole lobster weighing a pound and a quarter with two sides for $15.95.
Bahama Mamas is not only known for its crabs but for its drink menu as well with all frozen drinks served in a coconut.
Happy hour is served at both locations from noon-6 p.m. daily. Specials include a half pound of shrimp for $1.99 and 25 cent wings plus drink specials.
A deal at all three locations is crabs can be packed for travel with a cooler, ice and seasoning to enjoy at home.
Emerson is not slowing down and already has future plans on opening a fourth location this winter either in West Ocean City or Bethany Beach to be open by spring.
Another plan is to keep the 132nd Street location open year-round providing the locals with a place to hang out and watch football and enjoy food cooked on the grill. The location will be taking on the NFL package to be aired on multiple TVs as well as Keno and live music scheduled to follow after the football games.
Football season will bring in a new section of the menu with pit beef and turkey legs.
“We are going to have wild game feasts also,” Emerson said. “It is going to be the Shorebilly man cave.”
Also, coming up will be the First Annual Crab Race hosted by DJ Batman at Bahama Mamas on 132nd Street on Aug. 21 from 4-6 p.m. There will be prizes and giveaways with live music to follow. Proceeds go to charity. Call 410-524-8585 for information.