Tuesday, April 10 - LaHa Gains Entry In Md. Restaurant Hall Of Honor
OCEAN CITY - Monday will be a special day for one resort restaurant set to be inducted into the Restaurant Association of Maryland's (RAM) Hall of Honor and could be made even more memorable for a handful of local restaurants and bars nominated for prestigious awards during RAM's 'Stars of the Industry' gala.
La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, a mainstay in Ocean City for nearly three decades, will be inducted into RAM's Hall of Honor on Monday night at Martin's West in Baltimore during the organization's annual awards gala. La Hacienda's induction into the Hall of Honor will be just part of the evening with a decidedly Ocean City flavor as several other restaurants in the resort area have been recognized with nominations for prestigious awards this year.
For example, the Marlin Moon Grille has been nominated for 'Favorite Restaurant in Maryland,' while Liquid Assets has been nominated for 'Wine and Beverage Program of the Year.' Joining the party on Monday will be the Greene Turtle and Seacrets, which are both nominated for 'Favorite Bar or Tavern in Maryland' awards.
For La Hacienda and owner Bill Herbst, who has been running the popular Mexican restaurant at the same location on 81st Street in Ocean City since 1979, the induction into the state's Hall of Honor represents the culmination of several decades as a steady favorite in Ocean City. The modest restaurant opened in June 1979 and has undergone some physical changes over the years, the most recent coming with a major expansion and remodeling in 1988, but Herbst and his staff have remained true to the same basic foundations established nearly three decades ago.
For Herbst, that has always meant buying the freshest and the best ingredients he can find, prepared with care and attention to detail and served by friendly, familiar faces.
'We established good foundations years ago and we've stuck to the same basic premise despite the changes we have undergone over the years,' he said. 'We always try to buy the freshest and best ingredients we can whether its produce or chicken or wine and I hope that shines through in the finished product.'
Herbst praised his loyal staff, many of whom have been with him for years, as the second part of his successful equation.
'I would put the people on my staff up against anybody's' he said. 'I've either been very lucky over the years or I've been good at recognizing the type of people I want on my staff. In either case, the people who work in this restaurant are as much responsible for our induction into the Hall of Honor as anything else or more so.'
La Hacienda has received various awards in the past and has been nominated for several others over the years, but next week's induction into the Hall of Honor represents a peak for Herbst. La Hacienda is being inducted with several other restaurants from around the state including Alonso's, Harris Crab House, Lista's Southwest Grill and The Bayou.
'Being inducted into the Hall of Honor is one of the highlights of my restaurant career,' he said. 'It's nice to be honored by your peers.'
While La Hacienda will be inducted into the Hall of Honor during RAM's annual gala, several other prominent Ocean City area restaurants will have to wait until Monday night to learn their fates. For example, the Marlin Moon Grille has been nominated for the prestigious 'Favorite Restaurant of Maryland' award along with some well-known heavyweights in the industry from all over the state including Tio Pepe's in Baltimore, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Antrim 1844, Charleston, Clyde's, Miss Shirley's and O'Leary's.
Owned and operated by Gary and Julie Beach, the Marlin Moon Grille first opened in May 1999 under the name Reel Inn Grille above the old Ocean City Marlin Club on Route 50. It has since changed to the Marlin Moon Grille and moved about a half-mile west to the Francis Scott Key Motel, but throughout its changes the restaurant has remained true to Beach's fundamental premise of great food prepared by a talented kitchen crew and served by an efficient staff in an inviting atmosphere.
Liquid Assets is also nominated for an impressive award during RAM's gala on Monday night. The innovative restaurant and bar inside a beer and wine store on 92nd Street has become increasingly popular in the last year or so and is nominated for 'Wine and Beverage Program of the Year.' Liquid Assets is up against a handful of renowned restaurants from all over Maryland including Charleston, Corks, Flemings Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Grapeseed American Bistro and Wine Bar, and the Iron Bridge Wine Company.Finally, Ocean City is well known for its great bars and taverns and two of the resort's most popular watering holes are nominated for 'Favorite Bar/Tavern in Maryland' awards during RAM's gala on Monday night. The Greene Turtle and Seacrets will by vying for the honor along with several other nominees from all across Maryland.