Restaurateur’s Death Tough For Community

Restaurateur’s Death Tough For Community

Like everyone else, we were shocked to learn Sunday of the untimely passing of The Shark on the Harbor co-owner and executive chef Travis Wright. He was 45.

Wright came to Ocean City in the late 1990s and in 2000 opened The Shark in Ocean City. This newspaper became an advertising partner with the restaurant soon after it opened. The restaurant endured some early challenges, as is often the case with new businesses in a seasonal economy, but Wright and wife, Jody, found their true groove in 2008 when it moved to the commercial harbor in West Ocean City.

Once entrenched in West Ocean City where Wright could meet with fishermen and farmers for fresh products to later cook and sell, the restaurant truly took off and became one of the region’s most popular and acclaimed. For his efforts and commitment, Wright was named Maryland Chef of the Year in 2014 by the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

In an amazing display of strength, Jody Wright posted a touching tribute online of her late husband two days after his passing. We thought it appropriate to share her words.

As many have already learned, our family has suffered a tremendous loss.

Travis was so much more than a local chef and restaurant owner. He was a devoted son, husband, brother, friend and leader in our business community. He mentored a countless number of our team members professionally and personally.

Jon Tremellen once described him perfectly to me. “Travis is a man of few words,” he said. “But, when he speaks he has something thoughtful and important to say. So when he leans forward to say something, I listen.”

Travis was a friend to many and a committed partner to so many local vendors and industry professionals. He loved to announce the presence of guests in our restaurant, a little practice he probably picked up from Gringo in his bartending days. I would think a lot of people reading this now can recall being announced by Travis as he walked down the steps from the office or out through the kitchen doors. I would ask that you remember that every time you join us at The Shark on the Harbor from now moving forward. And, if you see me, please share those memories. It will do my heart so much good.

When we weren’t at work, Travis and I loved to travel, attend sporting events and go to as many live music shows as we could. We didn’t have a lot of time away, but we made every minute count when we did.

Travis spent most of his life playing the drums. He was the drummer for a band in Northern Virginia/Washington, DC when he was in high school. Playing gigs in bars with guys ten years older than him. He was that good. He still played the drums when he wanted to relax.

Our mutual love of music gifted us the best of times together. He always found us ideal places to stand in GA venues so that each show was more memorable than the last. Our collection of show posters have yet to find homes on our walls, but I can’t wait to revisit all of those happy times when they do.

Travis was fearless, although I don’t think he would have described himself that way. Even so, I know it to be true. He was smart and creative and just quirky enough to make everyone around him feel that it was okay to be exactly who they were. He empowered people in his world to be great. Including me.

Travis loved his family. He loved our dogs. He loved his friends, and he reminded me every day that he loved me and believed in me.

Please, in his memory, remind someone today that you believe in her. Empower someone to be his best self. Announce your happiness to see a friend, old or new. And take a few minutes in some way to celebrate some time away from all of the stresses in life.

Do this for me, for Travis’ parents, Gary and Cheryl Wright and for his sister, Carly Wright. Do this for our amazingly strong, committed and talented Shark family. Do this for yourself.

The outpouring of love from friends in this community have made it possible for me to start two new days since his passing, and I can see many more ahead.

I want you all to know that from the bottom of my heart.

With love,

Jody Kelly Wright

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.