OCEAN CITY — A new Dayton’s Fried Chicken has opened in Ocean City and looks to carry on the proud tradition of casual beach food that the franchise first established in the 1960s.
“We want to make this convenient for people so they can get something fast, have a seat and keep moving or get something fast, get in the car and keep moving,” said manager Keith Melvin.
Located on 69th Street and open since Memorial Day, Melvin has been happy with the location’s business so far. He attributed the its popularity to its traditional menu, which includes seafood favorites like fried oysters and soft-shell crabs as well as home-style food like chicken tenders and fired chicken. The tenders have been widely popular in the first few weeks, he added.
“They’re flying out of here. We’re going through about 40 pounds a week right now. We’re probably going to pick it up to about 10 pounds every two or three days. That’s going to be the next level of volume on those chicken fingers,” said Melvin.
The flagship food will always be the fried chicken, however.
“Fried chicken is our anchor. That’s really the most popular thing in volume that we always serve,” Melvin said.
Even before the location opened this summer, he said that people were calling in orders, based off the love affair with Dayton’s downtown on the Boardwalk as well as the landmark operation in Salisbury.
“Our first order, a week before we opened, was for 150 pieces of chicken. We hadn’t even opened and we had an order for 150 pieces of chicken,” Melvin said.
Though it’s a new location, Melvin underlined that Dayton’s is a name that people have learned to trust with a menu that they’ve kept consistent.
“We have two locations. One is downtown. It’s always been there since Dayton’s family had the building and it’s been down there since the early 60’s, maybe earlier,” he said. “I got associated with the Dayton’s family back in the mid-80’s. I actually worked with the family.”
Working with the Dayton family was his first real job as a youth, Melvin explained, and he hopes that the new location uptown will be able to provide the same opportunity to others. Already this summer his daughter, Amanda, has started working at the restaurant, which is her first job.
Dayton’s on 69th Street shares the property with a Dough Roller. Instead of being competitors, though, Melvin said that the two restaurants balance each other out well.
“We think it’s a good compliment to the restaurant next to us, the Dough Roller because downtown there’s Dough Roller and Dayton’s. It’s a nice brand together,” he said.
The menus are unique enough that the two restaurants work together as an experience rather than fight over customers, said Melvin. Families can run to Dough Roller for pizza and Italian dishes then hit Dayton’s for chicken and the meal can be eaten either outside or indoors.
“It’s a one-two stop: get some pizza, get some chicken and then it’s back to the beach. We can see it getting busier every day. When the dinner bell dings at five o’clock, we’ve got to cook chicken,” said Melvin.
With the summer season about to kick into high gear, Melvin expects business at the 69th Street Dayton’s to only increase.
“The first week we did about 1,500 pieces of chicken. We’ll definitely double that,” he predicted.
The emphasis will always be put on convenience and a time-tested menu, Melvin promised.
For menu offering, view www.daytonscarryout.com.
Keith Melvin and daughter Amanda