RAM Awards Gala Held In OC; Sunset Grille Wins Favorite Restaurant

OCEAN CITY — The Restaurant Association of Maryland (RAM) held its annual Stars of the Industry Awards gala in Ocean City on Sunday recognizing the top restaurants and bars across the state, and once again the resort area was well-represented among the winners.

Ocean City’s’ restaurant community has won numerous RAM awards in recent years and the list grew exponentially on Sunday night at the gala held at the Clarion Fountainebleu Hotel and Resort.

“For the first time ever, the Restaurant Association of Maryland hosted our annual industry awards gala in Ocean City,” said RAM President and CEO Marshall Weston. “Over the years, dozens of Eastern Shore restaurants have won our statewide awards, so it made perfect sense to bring the celebration to them. The industry responded with a great party with over 500 people from all over the state in attendance.”

Perhaps the biggest feather in the cap for the resort area on Sunday was a Favorite Restaurant in Maryland award for Sunset Grille in West Ocean City. Sunset Grille was one of five nominees for the award from a list that included the Lewnes’ Steak House in Annapolis, the Prime Rib in Baltimore, the Stanford Grill in Columbia and the Woodmont Grill in Bethesda.

Five Ocean City restaurants were among the 2018 inductees to the Maryland Hospitality Hall of Honor on Sunday. The list of local restaurants going into the hall included the Clarion, DaVinci’s by the Sea, the Harrison Group, Macky’s Bayside and the Waterman’s Seafood Company.

Jay Taustin was nominated in the RAM Restaurateur of the Year Category from a list that also included Kyle Algaze of the Iron Rooster, Bob Giamo of the Silver Diner, Mike Isabella of Mike Isabella Concepts and Charles Levine of Citron. The award went to Giamo of the Silver Diner.

In other major categories, Chef George Batlas of the Manor Tavern was named Chef of the Year, Favorite New Restaurant statewide went to The Elephant in Baltimore, and the Craft Beer Program of the Year went to the Ale House in Columbia. The Favorite Bar or Tavern statewide went to Looney’s Pub in Bel Air.

Another major award for the resort area was the Brice and Shirley Phillips Lifetime Achievement Award, named for the founders of the iconic seafood empire based in Ocean City. The award this year went to Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones. The award is given to the person who exemplifies sound business principles and impeccable character while dedicating their career to the betterment of the restaurant and food service industry.

Because the RAM awards were held in Ocean City, several new categories specific to the resort were added this year. For example, Thrasher’s French Fries was named Favorite Boardwalk Treat on Sunday. The list of nominees also included Dumser’s Dairyland, Fisher’s Pop Corn, Kohr Brothers Frozen Custard and The Wrapper.

Rare and Rye was named Ocean City’s Favorite New Restaurant at the RAM awards on Sunday. The list of nominees included Braddah Barney’s, Dry Dock 28 and Northside Pit and Pub. The Crab Bag was named Ocean City’s Favorite Crab House. The list of nominees included the Blu Crab House and Raw Bar, Crab Alley, Hooper’s Crab House and Phillips Crab House.

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.