OCEAN CITY – The Embers Restaurant is expanding its horizons, embarking on a project to add an outdoor dining and bar space to the property.
The Embers Restaurant requested the Planning and Zoning Commission approve a site plan to redevelop the restaurant, including a second-floor addition, which would feature the relocation of walk-in coolers and an outside dining area with service bar.
“The objective of this alternation is to create some connection to the water on the lagoon on the west side of the existing building and have more outside dining,” Smith said. “There is also some proposed second-story dining.”
In recent years, a miniature golf course has been added to the south side of property as well as 18 parking spaces. The restaurant has a total of 237 parking spaces, including a lot across the street of Coastal Highway.
Another recent modification was a retail office and residential building built on the property but that has been demolished in anticipation of creating the outdoor dining.
“They are re-instating the use of the property to an outside dining/bar area so they can connect to the waterfront and better utilize that area for the operation of the restaurant,” Smith said.
Commission member Peck Miller pointed out that the outdoor dining space is a separate and distinct area that has never existed before. The new outdoor dining will add 250 to 300 new seats.
“Currently, there is no outside dining and there is no outdoor deck,” he said. “They have never taken advantage of the outdoor spaces, which we do encourage but it is going to impact the parking with no question.”
Smith said The Embers has maxed out existing parking but will remain code complaint since a recently passed code states outdoor dining is exempt from parking requirements.
“We do not change parking for outside dining as long as the outside dining does not exceed the enclosed area and it doesn’t,” Smith explained.
The second floor dining area will be expanded to provide open and enclosed dining.
“They can offer something to their patrons from that upper level and enhance what they now have,” Smith said. “What was up there was all enclosed and you didn’t get that connection with the view and that waterway.”
The appearance of the building, such as the roof line, shingles and color tones, will remain compatible with the rest of the building. A colored rendering of the entrance area to the outdoor dining area was provided, and the commission liked what it saw.
“It is very inviting,” Planning and Zoning Commission attorney Will Esham said.
The vote was unanimous to approve the site plan as presented.