OCEAN CITY – The Shark Restaurant will be returning today as it opens its doors at a new location in West Ocean City, bringing with it familiar faces and favorite menu items, but adding a new waterfront view of the harbor and some new twists to the restaurant.
Owner Travis Wright and kitchen manager Nate Britko sat down with The Dispatch to discuss the new features of the restaurant, the return of old favorites and the excitement of the new, permanent home in West Ocean City.
The Shark will now be touting the name The Shark On The Harbor in honor of its new location along the West Ocean City commercial harbor. With the new name and location comes a stunning view of the harbor that can be enjoyed from just about any spot in the restaurant. Although the new location brings with it new opportunities, The Shark will be maintaining a majority of what has made it a popular spot among locals and visitors over the years.
“It’s not a whole new Shark. We have found ourselves a permanent home here and we are extremely excited to be here. We have recaptured the water view that was missing in our previous building,” Wright said.
After spending seven years at 46th Street, Wright decided to make the move to the West Ocean City district and is thrilled with what the new location has to offer.
“Overall, we’re just absolutely thrilled to be here,” said Wright, noting the view of the Inlet, Assateague and the commercial harbor. “There’s always something going on. It’s a fun, unique spot.”
With the move came the opportunity to revamp the menu, although many of the popular menu items will be returning.
“We’re keeping a lot of the menu items, a lot of the all-time favorites, but we’re trying to move towards whole grain and all natural foods,” Britko explained.
Wright added, “We’re trying to source as many organic products as possible.”
All natural, farm raised beef will be used as well as wild caught fin fish and shrimp and whole wheat pasta dishes. Locally caught fish will also be a focus.
“The quality of organic and all natural is unmatched, its tastes so much better,” said Britko, noting the increase in quality that will result from the new ingredients.
“With a smaller place we can focus more on quality ingredients. We always had good food, but now we can be more meticulous,” Wright said.
“Instead of focusing on higher quantity, we’re really trying to step up the quality of all of our ingredients,” Britko said.
The menu will also include the addition of some “harbor themed” items.
The move to a smaller restaurant not only gives the kitchen staff a chance to focus more on quality over quantity, but also enables Wright to maintain a smaller, more personalized staff.
“We don’t have to balloon our staff up in the summer, we’ll have a consistent service element, which is harder to do in a bigger place,” said Wright.
Only three new employees will be coming on board, with the rest of the employees bringing with them at least three years of experience working at The Shark. Britko has been a member of The Shark family for seven years, bringing a creative flair to the kitchen. “I went to school for fine art and I find that it translates to the cooking and gives me an outlet for that creativity,” he said.
Wright and Britko said the customers have shown tremendous support of the relocation effort.
“We definitely have to thank the support of our customers,” Britko said, noting the generosity they have seen over the past few months and the upswell of excitement that has been surfacing as opening day approached.
“So many people really extended themselves to help in any way possible.” Wright said. “Of course, I couldn’t have done any of it without the support of my wife Jody and my parents. Without them, there would be no Shark.”
As for making the move to the ever-growing restaurant district of West Ocean City, Wright isn’t worried about the surrounding competition.
“So many people live over here now, we’re surrounded by a larger base. People tend to go to an area where there are a lot of great restaurants,” said Wright.
“I think if anything it helps us,” said Britko. “Being around successful businesses won’t hurt us, it’ll help us. I think our menu is different enough, we feature different things than the surrounding restaurants.”
Friday will mark the opening night for The Shark On The Harbor, with a soft opening. Next weekend will house a bigger celebration with live entertainment Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.