OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s long-established restaurant, The Hobbit, is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year with familiar faces, classic food and timeless appeal.
For the past four decades, The Hobbit has served the resort as a family-owned restaurant loved by locals and tourists alike.
Owner Garvey Heiderman said The Hobbit’s longstanding tradition of fine dining and exceptional service continues to bring familiar faces back each year.
“We are one of the last white table cloth businesses in town,” he said. “I’m a big believer in change and that you have to adapt to changes, whether it’s in the food market or what people are looking for as customers, but at the end of the day I think people will always enjoy getting dressed up and going out to eat for special occasions.”
Heiderman said he often sees couples bring their children back to the restaurant they used to frequent as kids and visitors who make The Hobbit a yearly tradition.
“There are families that come down the same week every summer,” he said. “It’s almost like you can set your clock by it. I see them every year.”
Heiderman said he considers their stories and dedication a compliment.
“That is a special thing,” he said. “We don’t take that lightly. It’s cool to not only have our own traditions as a restaurant, year after year, but to incorporate that with families’ traditions as well.”
Heiderman’s father, Tom, opened The Hobbit at its first location on 82nd Street and Coastal Highway in 1977 before moving the restaurant to its current location at 81st Street on the bay six years later. When the property was sold and developed into the Rivendell Condominium in the mid-2000s, The Hobbit moved into the first floor of the complex and opened its doors in 2008, where it has remained ever since.
Heiderman said he has worked at The Hobbit since he was child and began his tenure there by polishing silverware.
“Our house was right next door to the restaurant when we grew up,” he said. “As soon as I was old enough to stay up past 10, I was working in the restaurant.”
Heiderman ultimately worked his way through the business, washing dishes, bussing tables and working on the line in the kitchen.
“The only thing I didn’t do in the original restaurant was wait tables,” he said. “I’ve pretty much done everything.”
In his years working at the restaurant, Heiderman said he has seen other businesses come and go, but added that The Hobbit and a handful of longstanding establishments remain a staple in the community.
“It’s pretty much the same core group of people,” he said. “My parents and their friends were kind of that first generation and we are the second. We are a small community and the same people are kicking in, year after year.”
Now in his fourth solo season, Heiderman said he is ready to ring in the restaurant’s 40th year with great food and anniversary specials.
With Chef Jason Purkey at the helm, Heiderman said The Hobbit will continue to offer a variety of salads, appetizers, entrees and in-house desserts, with menu items changing seasonally. Popular dishes include locally sourced crab cakes made with pure Maryland crab meat, braised short ribs and more innovative specials Purkey comes up with on a nightly basis.
“In general, we try to find that balance between fresh seafood and offering a lot of variety when it comes to meats and proteins,” he said.
In addition to the restaurant’s staple menu items, Heiderman said he will be offering a $40 wine list Sunday through Wednesday until Memorial Day.
“It’s my way of saying thank you,” he said. “It’s a lot of wines that we would normally sell for $50, $60 or even $70.”
The Hobbit also offers happy hour specials Sundays through Thursdays from 5-7 p.m. at the bar, where customers can find an assortment of fresh spring drinks and wines. The restaurant also donates a portion of its Peligroso Tequila sales to the Ocean City Surf Club for every drink sold.
While the seasons may change, Heiderman said that The Hobbit’s service and hospitality remain the same.
“I’m trying to keep it rolling and make the family proud,” he said.
The Hobbit is open daily at 5 p.m. for dinner.
For more information on The Hobbit, visit thehobbitrestaurant.com or call 410-524-8100 to make your reservation tonight.