Atlantic Stand No More On Ocean City’s Boardwalk

Atlantic Stand No More On Ocean City’s Boardwalk
"For Rent" signs appeared earlier this month at the building that has been home to Atlantic Stand, or some version of it, since the 1930s. Photo by Shawn Soper

OCEAN CITY — There will likely be another hamburger and hot dog stand at the historic corner of Wicomico Street and the Boardwalk, but it won’t be called the Atlantic Stand.

For over 80 years, the famed business, now known as the Atlantic Stand, has stood on the corner of Wicomico Street serving split-down-the-middle hot dogs, fresh-padded hamburgers, fries, milkshakes and other traditional Boardwalk fare to generations of visitors to Ocean City. However, apparently due to a variety of free market forces and changing dynamics on the seaside promenade, the current business owner is moving on.

In the last week, “For Rent” signs have gone up on the Atlantic Stand, signaling an end of another era on the Boardwalk, although it appears likely, if not probable, that a new business will take its place and attempt to maintain the tradition started in 1933. The building itself is owned by the Purnell family and the current owner of the Atlantic Stand leases the space along the Boardwalk.

However, Atlantic Stand owner Brandon Phillips has shuttered the iconic business. In a statement, Phillips confirmed he did not sell the Atlantic Stand business, but rather shut down the business this month to “focus on other ventures.”

Phillips added changing dynamics on the Boardwalk played a part in his decision to shutter the Atlantic Stand.

“The Boardwalk and its clientele has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, which strongly factored into my decision,” he said.

That decision has left the Purnells looking for a new tenant for the site. Billy Purnell said this week the family is cognizant of the emotional attachment generations of visitors to Ocean City likely have for the historic business that has occupied one corner of the Boardwalk at Wicomico Street since 1933. The name Atlantic Stand is proprietary and is owned by Phillips, but Purnell said the family is looking for potential tenants to uphold the tradition.

“The tenant that was previously there is no longer, but we are planning on keeping it the way it is with hot dogs, hamburgers and fries,” he said. “That business has been there since the ‘30s.”

In 1933, the business first opened on the northwest corner of Wicomico Street and the Boardwalk as the Alaska Stand, a tribute to the only thing it served at the outset — a block of vanilla ice cream on a stick, which was then dipped in chocolate, known as a frozen Alaska. The original owners soon learned the growing number of visitors to the beach and Boardwalk desired more alternatives and fresh fruit juices were added to the menu.

Over the years, the menu expanded and evolved to include the famed hot dogs, hamburgers, fries and milkshakes and the legend was born. In 1985, the Alaska Stand briefly moved across the Boardwalk to the pier building. It moved back to its original location at the corner of Wicomico Street and the Boardwalk five years later.

In 1991, the original owners sold the Alaska Stand’s Wicomico Street location to the Cole family. The original owners, the Givarz family, continue to operate the Alaska Stand’s other famed location at 9th Street and the Boardwalk. In 1992, the Coles converted a back warehouse space behind the Alaska Stand into an air-conditioned dining room reminiscent of a 1950s-style diner.

In 1998, the Coles changed the business’ name to Atlantic Stand. Phillips bought the Atlantic Stand from the Coles in 2006.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.