Operating any business today is incredibly difficult, but running a restaurant amid the ongoing pandemic and its ramifications comes with unique challenges. Food supply is a major issue currently with some restauranteurs boldly predicting crab meat will be unavailable by this summer. With supply tight, demand high and fuel costs skyrocketing, the price of goods has reached new heights. Patrons will soon start to realize these increased expenses through higher charges. Additionally, finding employees to fill shifts, especially back of the house type jobs like line cooks and dishwashers, continues to be a major issue. The result of all this seems to be many restaurants may reduce their hours of operation this summer and even close a day or two during the height of the season – observations seen around the area last year.
Indeed, it’s a crazy time for restaurants. Boxcar on Main chef/owner Paul Suplee shared a photo on LinkedIn of a server holding a sign reading “Short Staffed, it’s the new pandemic! Please be kind to our staff.” His message on the share on LinkedIn read, “Yep. For most of us restaurateurs this year will be tougher than last!” On its Facebook page, The Crab Bag in north Ocean City announced for the next few weeks it will be closing Monday through Wednesday. It’s not because the business is not there, however. It’s far from the case.
The Crab Bag’s full post read, “A little reminder to people that are not aware. The restaurants are short staffed like many other businesses and this is not because we do not feel like taking the time to hire or because we do not pay well. It’s quite the opposite. Nobody is applying for certain jobs. Sometimes we are out of certain food or drinks because the items are out of stock and not because we do not know how to order. Please be patient and kind to the staff that is showing up and working so diligently. It’s extremely difficult to enjoy your job when you have to deal with angry people. These are tough times, we will get through. Don’t waste your energy being upset. Tip your servers and bartenders that make 3.63 plus tips so they can pay their bills. The back of the house staff is just as important as the front of the house staff. This staff shows up and greets you with a smile under their masks they have to wear every day. Do us a small favor and smile back.”
The Ocean Pines Association was right to slow the ongoing short-term rental discussion. It’s unclear whether the threat of litigation derailed the effort to create new short-term rental guidelines for the community, but the planned town hall forum on Saturday has been canceled.
It appears Ocean Pines will continue to monitor the situation over the summer and work on enforcing the county’s existing short-term rental laws. A review of how the season went in the fall would be wise followed by the reassembling of the committee that worked hard to create the guidelines under current consideration. Having the public weigh in on any proposed guidelines in the winter months would be much better received than in mid-April with rentals already occurring at a high clip.
Worcester County government has a way of operating in the same fashion no matter who the elected officials might be. Filling prominent leadership vacancies from within would be an example. It’s clear, and it’s a good strategy, the county prefers to promote from within with the help of inner-department succession planning.
In 2013, when then-Chief Administrative Officer Gerald Mason retired from the county, the commissioners at the time decided to promote then-Finance Officer Harold Higgins to the position. At the same time, the commissioners promoted Assistant Emergency Services Director Fred Webster to succeed long-time Emergency Services Director Teresa Owens. Both vacancies were filled without any sort of search effort.
This week, the current set of commissioners followed the same path as eight years ago when Higgins announced plans to retire this September. Opting against a search again, the commissioners announced Higgins’ replacement at the same time as his retirement. Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Weston Young will replace his boss later this year. Young’s replacement will likely come within as well.
Skateboarding has always been a concern in Berlin, but it’s not reached the point of ordinances needing to be rewritten or approaches tweaked. In simplest terms, skateboarding is essentially not allowed on any street with lines on it, including Main, Broad, William and Bay streets and Old Ocean City Boulevard. I think it’s appropriate for police to enforce this ordinance.
What has chafed people of late in Berlin is the fact some kids who are frequent offenders have had their skateboards confiscated by police. I personally know many of these kids and the police officers are wise to take their boards if they will not adhere to repeated warnings and knowingly disrespect them. Police are not confiscating any boards without good reason. Officers also return the boards after a day or two once the kid comes to the department with an adult to pick it up. This policy allows police to remind the responsible adult and the child about the town’s skateboarding laws.
While the sign at a local restaurant, reading, “We can’t be America’s Coolest Small Town if Sk8boards are illegal,” received a lot of social media buzz, it’s important to remember it’s a public safety issue.