OCEAN CITY — The resort community has lost an icon with the passing of Dough Roller Restaurant patriarch Bill Gibbs, a successful businessman and a familiar face on the Boardwalk for decades.
Gibbs grew up in Ocean City and began his first restaurant job at the age of 14, serving pizza at a local shop downtown. By the age of 22, he bought Jose’s, an old pizza shop on Wicomico Street. In 1980, the young entrepreneur got the opportunity and had the means to buy the Breakers Hotel, where he had worked as a beach boy renting umbrellas and chairs.
When the opportunity to buy the Breakers Hotel arose, Gibbs jumped at the chance. After reconfiguring the front porch area, Gibbs opened his first Dough Roller restaurant in 1980, offering pizza by the slice and whole pizzas. He expanded to start offering breakfast on the Boardwalk a short time later.
Over the years, Gibbs’ Dough Roller empire grew, as did his family. The family continues to operate multiple Dough Roller restaurants throughout the resort. While he will be fondly remembered for his business acumen, he will perhaps most be remembered for his service to the community. He was often at City Council meetings and served on various volunteer task forces and commissions. He was named Business Person of the Year in Ocean City in 2014.
At the close of Monday’s meeting, Mayor Rick Meehan fondly recalled his old friend, whom he had known for decades. Meehan recalled seeing Gibbs on a bench outside his Boardwalk restaurant while Meehan was riding his bike and recalled his many conversations with him over the years.
“We lost a very prominent Ocean City citizen over the weekend and that is Bill Gibbs,” he said. “Bill lived here all of his life and he grew up in Ocean City. I’ve known Bill since the early 1970s before he owned the Dough Roller.”
Meehan recounted Gibbs’ successes over the years from his first jobs as a teenager, to his first restaurant to finally what Dough Roller has become over the years.
“He was a great entrepreneur,” he said. “He opened his first Dough Roller in 1980. Before that, he had a small pizza shop on Wicomico Street. It is truly a family business. All three of his sons — Jeff, Gary and Kevin — are all involved in the business.”
Most importantly, the mayor recounted Gibbs’ lasting legacy in Ocean City.
“He was a good friend and a great guy,” he said. “Everybody that ever worked for Bill Gibbs will tell you he was a terrific boss and a great guy to work for. He gave an awful lot back to the Town of Ocean City. He was Citizen of the Year. I’m going to miss Bill and I don’t want to forget him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and we will all miss him.”