Ocean City restaurants The Embers, BJ’s closing; new OC dining concept coming

BJ’s on the Water opened in 1979. (WTOP/Megan Cloherty)

Two Ocean City, Maryland, restaurants that have been favorite beach spots for decades are closing their doors.

The two restaurants that are closing are The Embers and BJ’s on the Water.

Seafood and prime-rib buffet restaurant The Embers will close permanently, although the restaurant’s owners, The Taustin Group, plans to reopen its BLU Crabhouse & Raw Bar at the current Embers location for the 2021 season.

The Embers Restaurant has been an Ocean City fixture for more than 70 years, according to the owner in a Facebook post. In 1985, it became Ocean City’s first all-you-can-eat seafood and prime rib buffet.

The Taustin Group cited COVID-19 as the reason for not reopening The Embers. The announcement was made in a Facebook posting.

“We are turning the page once again after a long and successful chapter in our history at the beach. The Embers will transform during this period and all of us are very excited for you to see what is next,” said Taustin Group CEO Cole Taustin.

The company plans to redevelop the entire property, which includes a miniature golf course, in 2022 as a “versatile space,” including shopping, dining and entertainment.

The Taustin Group is also starting construction next month on Pier 23 in West Ocean City as a “waterfront container food port.” It will be a beachy version of a food court, with outdoor dining surrounded by shipping containers with different dining options, potentially concepts such as tacos, a deli, a grill, ice cream and a bar. It will also include DJs and live performances.

Pier 23 will be developed on the waterfront where Mad Fish Bar and Grille, which was severely damaged by fire in 2019, stood.

Separately, longtime OC restaurant BJ’s on the Water announced its last day would be Jan. 31. The owners cited health reasons for deciding to close and sell the restaurant after 41 years in a Facebook posting.

Owners Billy and Maddy Carder opened BJ’s on the Water in 1979. DelmarvaNow reports the site may be redeveloped.

Last week, the owners of The Beach Plaza Hotel, one of Ocean City’s oldest Boardwalk hotels, announced it would close permanently, along with its onsite restaurant Ocean Thirteen. Ocean Thirteen’s owners are looking for a new location.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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