(Editor’s Note: With thousands of people converging on the Harbour Island Marina this week for the White Marlin Open, we thought it would be opportune to look back at the site before it was home to a housing community and host to the largest billfishing tourney in the world.)
The Ship Café Restaurant and Marina was an Ocean City landmark for over 30 years. Constructed in the late 1930s as the Ocean City Yacht Club, it became the town’s premier restaurant in the years following World War II under the ownership of William and Ethel Ahtes.
The Ship Café was also famous for its marina and yachts from all over the East Coast made use of its deep harbor. For a time, there was even a small airstrip on the property on the bay at 14th Street.
In the mid-1970s, new owner Pete Boinis created the Gazebo Niteclub at the Ship Café. It became a popular disco and featured music by the Admirals, one of the area’s top show bands.
The building was destroyed by a massive fire on May 9, 1977. The Harbour Island development was built on the site and today the weigh-ins for the White Marlin Open are held there each August.
Postcard photo courtesy of Bill and Kitt Matthews