OCEAN CITY – Brittney and Justin Acita came to Ocean City to spend a summer at the beach. Like so many of those who come to call the resort home, they simply never left.
After humble beginnings bussing tables, the Acitas have worked their way up through the restaurant industry and this year became owners of Ocean City’s iconic Pickles Pub.
“At some point, it was bound to happen,” Justin Acita said.
Acita is a familiar face at the 8th Street bar, having managed the bar and the liquor store for the past few years. He and his wife made the move to ownership this year as previous owner Danny Robinson became increasingly busy developing his popular Hoop Tea brand. Acita says Robinson made the transition easy.
“He’s been a good role model,” Acita said.
To kick off their first season as bar owners, the Acitas gave the interior of the pub a makeover, installing a new bar top and renovating the back room.
“We just wanted to do a facelift,” Acita said.
Though the back room has already been improved, Acita hopes to make additional changes to turn it into a sort of “man cave” for sports fans. The pub itself already has more than two dozen televisions.
“In the fall, we’ll focus on football,” Brittney Acita said.
The Acitas have also redone the Pickles Pub food and drink menus. The half-pound burgers have proven popular with patrons, particularly the “Big Kahuna,” topped with grilled pineapple, bacon and sweet chili sauce. The handcrafted pizzas on the menu, ranging from blackened shrimp and arugula to “South Street,” featuring sliced ribeye and sautéed peppers and onions, are also a favorite with customers.
Justin Acita said his kitchen staff worked hard to make just about everything on the menu by hand.
“We don’t really get anything out of the box,” he said.
As far as drinks, Pickles Pub has a strong focus on craft beers. The bar has 24 beers on tap and has started offering pint nights on Thursdays. Each Thursday, a different craft brewer comes in and puts their beers on tap. Featured brewers in recent weeks have included Fin City Brewing, Rubber Soul Brewing and Assawoman Bay Brewing.
“They’ll talk about their beers and what they’re coming up with next,” Brittney Acita said.
She and her husband say they’re thrilled with how things are going at Pickles Pub so far and are pleased to see the change in ownership has been received well by long-time customers.
“We’re happy to see some of the old school locals have been back in and enjoying themselves,” Justin Acita said.
He said the local community meant a lot to him and that Pickles Pub supported the OC Surf Club’s “Adopt Your Beach” program as well as the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation. The bar is one of the local businesses making up the prom court for the foundation’s next Prom Night fundraiser. The Acitas have already started hosting special events like last month’s Pineapple Palooza to raise money for the cause.
“We’re trying to do something every other month,” Brittney Acita said.
She said that because they have two children of their own, they did what they could to support the worthwhile organization, which provides respite housing to sick children and their families.
“I can’t imagine what those families go through,” she said.
Justin Acita said they were eager to do what they could to give back to the town that gave them both their start in the restaurant industry.
“We love the community,” he said. “We try to give back.”