OC’s Alaska Stand To Carry On At 9th Street, Family Assures

Photo by Shawn Soper

OCEAN CITY — The historic Alaska Stand on the Boardwalk at 9th Street is alive and well and will continue the same family traditions in place for generations.

For over 80 years, the Givarz family has owned and operated the Alaska Stand on the Boardwalk, first at its original location at Wicomico Street and the Boardwalk and later at 9th Street and the Boardwalk. The 9th Street location has been a fixture on the Boardwalk since the 1960s, serving the same fresh-padded hamburgers, split-down-the-middle hot dogs, fries, milkshakes and other traditional Boardwalk fare to generations of visitors to Ocean City.

Despite the passage of family patriarch Robert Givarz this summer, the tradition lives on with the next generation running the family business. “Mr. Bob” Givarz, as he was affectionately known by generations of smiling summer workers who gained as much from his wisdom and mentoring as they did from their work experience, passed away in July at the age of 66. Bob Givarz was also known as the “Mayor of 9th Street” for his omnipresence at the famed location over the years.

Despite the loss, the family, including his sister Leslye Givarz and his niece Jodi Renner and her husband Dennis, persevered through what was undoubtedly a difficult emotional season, and continued the legacy started generations earlier. The same family members plan on keeping the Alaska Stand traditions alive and well into the 2018 summer season and far beyond.

“We thank the Ocean City community, our loyal customers and our staff for its outpouring of support during a challenging time for us,” said Leslye Givarz this week. “We were strengthened and able to carry on because of that support and want to reassure everybody who cares so much about the Alaska Stand that it will be open for business as usual next spring, and the plan is to keep it going for more generations to come.”

In 1933, the original business first opened on the Boardwalk as the Alaska Stand, a tribute to the only food item it served at the outset — a block of vanilla ice cream on a stick that was then dipped in chocolate, known as a frozen Alaska. Benjamin Givarz, grandfather of Bob and Leslye, was the original owner who soon learned the growing number of visitors to the beach and Boardwalk desired more alternatives, so he added fresh fruit juices. Over the years, the menu expanded and evolved to include the famed hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, milkshakes and other offerings, and the Alaska Stand legend was born.

“Our grandfather always strived to offer the very best high-quality ingredients from way back in the 1930s,” said Leslye Givarz. “It’s a tradition — serving the purest and the best — and we’ve always honored that tradition and will continue doing so going forward.”

In 1991, the Givarz family sold the original location at Wicomico Street to the Cole family and continued to operate the iconic 9th Street Alaska Stand location. In 1998, the Coles changed the name of the business at Wicomico Street to the Atlantic Stand, thus removing any connections to the original Alaska Stand started by the Givarz family decades earlier.

“The Alaska Stand on the Boardwalk at 9th Street looks forward to seeing you all next spring when it opens its doors for yet another summer season,” said Leslye Givarz this week. “Our family will continue to honor Bob and carry on his memory as the summers arrive.”

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.