Veteran Restaurateur’s Pub Strives For Unique Offerings

Veteran Restaurateur’s Pub Strives For Unique Offerings

OCEAN CITY – Johnny’s Pizza & Pub has closed out its fourth successful summer in the heart of Ocean City with excitement growing for the years ahead.
John Hofman and his wife, Pam, opened Johnny’s on 56th Street and Coastal Hwy. on June 3, 2010. John Hofman moved to 61st Street in 1979 during the summer following his first year of college and grew familiar with Ocean City as be bartended in town during the summers through the early 1980s.
Hofman has 30 years of experience in the pizza business and has owned two other pizza locations in the past — Pino’s Pizza in Ocean City and Pizza 500 in Montgomery County.
When the shopping center on 56th Street was built, Hofman couldn’t resist and decided to open Johnny’s Pizza & Pub with the concept of combining his bartending experience in Ocean City and pizza business knowledge.
“Ocean City is my sand box, and I know what’s going on here. I thought it was good location and it was a good looking building, so my wife, Pam, and I bought two units. We built it [Johnny’s] all winter [of 2009], and just did what we knew to do,” Hofman said. “This mile from 45th to 65th streets is probably the most crowded section of bars in the United States. There is a lot of foot traffic and it has become a real pocket, the center, the heart of Ocean City.”
Once Hofman secured the property, he began building his team that includes managers Mel Kurtz, Jeff Willey and Orbin Strickler.
“We are the four that run it. It is a busy place and it is open around the clock — seven days a week, 365 days a year- and this core crew we have had from the get go has been the nucleus to make this place successful,” Hofman said.
Johnny’s offers bar and table seating with a relaxed casual atmosphere that is good for all ages reflecting an eclectic beach theme with Brazilian tiger wood and stain glass accents.
The pub is set up with an elite surround sound and video system, plus large flat screen TVs set up at every angle to fit all entertainment needs. There is trivia on Wednesday nights and live bands play every weekend.
There are currently six craft beers on tap with plans to grow to 12 as well as a specialty drink list that includes sangrias, orange crushes and spiced rum punches.
Johnny’s also has a new Coca-Cola Freestyle machine that offers hundreds of soft drink choices out of one spout. Only a few on the Eastern Shore exist and Johnny’s was the first to have it in Ocean City.
“We are really proud of our menu and our house specialty is gourmet craft pizzas, plus a lot of the good old standbys,” Hofman said.
One of the top-selling pizza specials is Johnny’s Special with cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and green peppers, mushrooms and onions. Another is the Meat Lovers, with pepperoni, ham, sausage, bacon and extra cheese, and the pie for the veggie lovers is named after Hofman’s daughter, Barefoot Britney, made of mushrooms, sweet white onions, green peppers, green olives, black olives and diced tomatoes.
“We get a lot of toppings that aren’t seen in the national chains and add them to our award-winning recipes,” Hofman added.
A few gourmet specialty pizzas Hofman reported are a hit include the Jamaican Jerk Chicken with a spicy sweet orange Caribbean sauce, grilled white tender chicken breast tossed in Jamaican jerk seasoning and clove honey, topped with onions, green peppers, banana peppers and smoked bacon, finished off with a dash of Jamaican jerk seasoning.
The Maryland Blue Crab Pizza is another best seller with crab imperial sauce, Old Bay seasoning, crab meat, cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, and cooked golden brown and brushed with butter and sprinkled with Old Bay and fresh parsley.
Also, Neptune’s Seafood Feast Pizza is another point of pride, featuring garlic butter, old bay seasoned open ocean-caught shrimp, white onions, Maryland blue crab meat, mozzarella and Wisconsin white cheddar cheese, baked at 500 degrees in state-of-the-art ovens and cooked golden brown, then topped off with fresh Italian parsley and a sprinkle of Old Bay.
Johnny’s menu is also full of a variety of appetizers, jumbo Buffalo wings that can be tossed in one of 19 sauces available, subs, garden salads and sandwiches. The menu is a working document as new items are introduced every year.
Carry-out and delivery specials are available, such as the family feast that is one large pizza, 20 Buffalo wings, one large salad and a two-liter soda and the double deals with two large 14-inch cheese pizzas or two medium 12-inch cheese pizzas at a discounted price. Johnny’s delivers from the Delaware line to the Inlet downtown.
During the offseason, Johnny’s is open until 2 a.m. but during the summer season it’s open until 4 a.m. providing food to the late night crowd.