It Comes Out Fast And Tasty At Jimmy's Kitchen
OCEAN CITY - At 4:30 a.m. most people are still snoozing away. However, the owner of Jimmy's Kitchen, Jimmy Mourlas, isn't like most people. He's already at work with spatula in hand, prepping food for breakfast before the sun ever touches the horizon.
Opening his restaurant in 2001 and going on his seventh summer in business this year, Mourlas said he rises early every morning to get a head start on the breakfast crowd that fill the seats of his humble Fenwick Island location every morning.
When the doors open at 6:30, Mourlas said breakfasts start getting cranked out, ranging from a large variety of classic omelets to a local favorite, chipped beef, eight gallons of which is sold on the weekends. And when Mourlas says he cranks them out, he really means it.
'Between my other cook Tim and I, I think our record is 74 breakfasts in an hour,' he said.
Just because they can whip a meal up fast doesn't mean it loses its ability to satisfy the morning munchies.
'I always say I put a lot of love into the food because I really like what I do,' he said.
Open year round except for a few weeks in the dead of winter, Mourlas said most of the Jimmy's Kitchen crowd is locals from Bethany, Fenwick, Selbyville, Bishopville and Ocean City. Being that Fenwick is a place where everyone stays in touch, he went on to say how this provides a Cheers-like atmosphere where 'everybody knows your name.'
'First of all, I always tell everybody to treat everyone like family, so I have a lot of regulars that eat here almost everyday or every other day, sometimes twice a day,' he said. 'We know a lot of the people and that works out well for us.'
Growing up in Long Island, N.Y., Mourlas said he and his family moved to St. Michaels in the early '80s and he soon began attending Salisbury State University. He spent his summers in Ocean City, ultimately garnering his love for the restaurant industry.
'Going to Salisbury State, a lot of those kids come down here and start working the restaurants,' he explains. 'You kind of find what you like and you end up being a bartender or a manager and I sort of ended up the same way.'
After nine years of doing dinners at the Bonfire and 12
years of pumping out breakfasts and lunches at General's Kitchen, Mourlas said
the time for him to strike out on his own had come.
'I realized I liked the breakfast thing since it was a good morning activity for families,' he said. 'Plus, it was more of my shtick, I was an early riser from college.'
With an old Italian restaurant having been up for sale for almost a year in Fenwick, Mourlas said he jumped on the opportunity to try out having his own small place.
'Most people want to be professional whatevers, I always wanted my own place,' he said. 'I like to say I learned most of my breakfasting from General's Kitchen and I learned all my good restauranting from the Bonfire.'
As for Mourlas' staff, he said he has a nice mix of workers who are jacks-of-all-trades when it comes to tasks in the restaurant. He even boasts an Ocean City celebrity, former mayor Roland 'Fish' Powell, who works the register on the weekends.
Concerning his management style, Mourlas said it takes a love of the industry and an understanding nature to create a successful business.
'I think you have to be a diplomat. You have to be able to understand different folks since everybody is not the same,' he said. 'I tell these guys when they start working here, you treat everybody like family, even if it's family you can't stand, you still have to show them some respect.'
When it comes to future expansions, Mourlas said he is always thinking about it but the idea of only being able to be hands-on at one location at a time is a bit nerve-racking.
'I'd love to have another place sometime but I'd like to make sure this one is going to be here a long time too,' he said.
However, to the delight of his regulars and staff alike, Mourlas also said his kitchen won't be the only thing that will be around for a while.
'I don't think I'd ever retire, this is what I do. I enjoy being here and seeing my customers every year,' he said. 'One thing my boss used to always say, •€˜I'm going to die with a spatula in my hand in the kitchen,' and I'll probably do the same.'