Restaurateur Provides Southern-Style Food, Hospitality
OCEAN CITY - Throughout the history of the Americas, the pineapple has come to express a sense of welcome, good cheer, human warmth and family affection. Most importantly, it symbolizes hospitality, something Eric Bearinger, owner of the Plantation House Bar and Grille, utilizes as the forefront of his business.
For a little over two years now, the Plantation House has sat along the beautiful Herring Creek in West Ocean City, nestled among the pines that litter the winding creek's banks. According to Bearinger, the concept of the restaurant was developed around the waterfront property's scenery in order to create a casual restaurant in an upscale setting.
'It's not your typical beach view, it's more nature oriented,' he said. 'We came up with the southern-style theme and the menu is pretty much eclectic Eastern Shore with some southern influence in it.'
Serving fresh fish, prime steaks and salads, all made in house, Bearinger said consistency plays a key role in his business's success since the customer always knows what to expect when they come. He went on to add that hospitality goes a long way as well.
'I think our service really stands out,' he said. 'We really make an effort to take care of the customers needs no matter how small they are.'
Plantation House's clientele is mostly locals from West Ocean City and Berlin, with some who even come from north Ocean City, according to Bearinger. Some of their favorite items on the menu include Alaskan crab legs, crab cakes, the restaurant's popular combo platters and its blue crab corn chowder made from scratch.
Bearinger, who enjoys working in the summer when things are always hopping, said he has spent 25 years in the restaurant industry owning and managing numerous establishments, such as JW Pickles and Friends in Georgetown, Del., and the Assateague Crab House in Berlin, to name just a few.
When it comes to running a business like a full-scale restaurant, he said it takes a dedicated person with a passion for the industry.
'I'm very hands-on,' he said. 'My role is to help whoever needs to be helped, whether that's a customer or an employee.'
Bearinger's foray into the restaurant industry began back in high school when he worked at a private resort and soon became hooked.
'I was able to do a lot of different duties and it was a really fun experience,' he said.
Shortly after it was time for college where Bearinger said he attended Shepherd University in West Virginia and majored in hotel/restaurant management.
During the summers, Bearinger said he spent his time in Ocean City working in the restaurant industry, and following graduation he moved to the area that supported him as he traveled down his lifelong career path, an area he has grown to love.
Although he's not working among the hustle and bustle of his past, he said he prefers West Ocean City to that of Ocean City.
'I like West Ocean City, I think it's a little more laid back out here and I really think the restaurant trend will continue out here,' he said.
Bearinger went on to say how six restaurants opened during 2006 in West Ocean City and more will continue to do so as the residential population balloons.
'I think Route 50 is eventually going to become the hospitality and retail corridor of Ocean City,' he added.
Without the restaurant industry, Bearinger said he isn't sure where he would be today since it is all he has ever known.
As for his future, he said he is in it for the long haul and does not have any plans to ever retire but is anticipating a busier third summer as the Plantation House begins to dabble in catering small, local events.
'I pretty much live here, this is my home, this is my house,' he said. 'I feel comfortable here and I like being here.'