OCEAN CITY – For the past 40 years, Layton’s Dip N’ Donuts Family Restaurant has been providing donuts, food and memories to locals and visitors alike, and with high hopes for a strong summer season, owner Larry Layton looks forward to continuing that tradition this summer and for years to come.
The Layton family purchased the 17th Street property in 1959. Larry’s parents, Robert and Peggy, bought the property that would eventually transform into the town’s first 24-hour donut shop. Starting out as a four-bay carwash and mini-golf course, the property was transformed in the late 60’s into Layton’s Dip N’ Donuts. The Layton’s opened their doors in May 1968, becoming Ocean City’s first 24-hour operation.
Over the years, the donut shop has evolved into a full-menu restaurant.
“We evolved basically from a basic donut shop, open 24 hours, to a full blown menu,” said Layton.
In 1986, the restaurant expanded further with the addition of the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet. The buffet aimed to provide a quicker, variety-filled breakfast for families, an option in lieu of the menu section of the restaurant.
“People like the buffet when they’re in a rush in the summer, they can get in and out,” said Layton.
Roughly seven years ago, Layton made the decision to eliminate the 24-hours of operation. Different times and a different market guided that decision, said Layton.
Today, Layton and his wife, Pam, run the operation, with the help of their three kids, who all work at the restaurant during the summer months, making it a true, family-run business.
Over the years, the prominence of donuts has dwindled somewhat, as the country has become more health conscious. As times and palettes have evolved, donuts have become more of a trademark for the restaurant. In the early years, Layton’s would push out nearly 40 tons of donuts in a summer, noted Layton.
Donuts are not the only delicious item found at Layton’s, the breakfast menu varies from omelets to chocolate chip pancakes. “The omelets are a big hit,” noted Layton.
The menu offers traditional breakfast items, such as scrambled eggs and French toast, but unique breakfast items can be found on the menu as well. The Eastern Shore Crabber, which consists of a home-made crab cake in a three-egg omelet with cheese, or the Nor’Easter, three scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage hash browns, onions, green peppers, cheddar cheese and toast, are just a few of the unique items found at Layton’s. A variety of pancakes are also available for the palette, from traditional pancakes to coconut banana pancakes.
The lunch menu provides a variety of choices as well, from wraps to crab cakes to cheesesteak subs.
A kids menu is also available for the younger generations, as well as Adventure Meal Bags.
“We’re real kid-friendly here,” said Layton.
Coupled with the menu is a great bunch of employees, said Layton, boasting of his friendly staff. Layton makes sure to fill his staff with warm, smiling faces each year in an effort to create an enjoyable atmosphere for customers.
“I have a great staff, they’re friendly and they really bring a warm feeling to customers and that’s what its about,” he said.
Despite the gloom and doom outlook in the media on future gas prices and the economy, Layton is optimistic about the upcoming summer season, which will officially quick off this weekend with what he hopes will be a strong Memorial Day holiday weekend. Layton noted that he is counting on the “American people and their desire to still do the things they love and enjoy,” despite the economy.
“How would you have a record crowd here if that wasn’t true,” he said, referring to the large crowds that poured into town for Cruisin’ Week last week.
Layton noted that for thousands of families from the D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia areas, Ocean City is still just a tank of gas away. With airplane costs rising and further destinations becoming more costly to visit, Layton predicts many families will enjoy a great vacation in Ocean City this summer.
“Ocean City is a great place – the beach, the Boardwalk, the bay – summertime is great here,” he said.
To ensure that every vacationer enjoys their stay, Layton makes sure to provide good service and good food at a quality price.
“You pay for good quality food here. We’ve always used good, quality ingredients,” he said, pointing to the chicken salad in front of him, made daily and made fresh.
Layton’s also prides itself in providing food made “any way you like it”.
“We aren’t a franchise, so you can have it any way you like it. We are very flexible with our menu,” said Layton, adding that nothing on the menu is pre-made, so just about any item can be altered to the customer’s preference. “It’s all about servicing the customer.”
Like most local businesses, Layton’s sees some of its busiest times during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend, as well as during Fourth of July. Layton noted however that, thanks to the efforts of the town, weekends that house Springfest and Sunfest, and the variety of other events held throughout town and at the Convention Center, bring big crowds as well.
“The great job that Susan Jones [Executive Director of the Ocean City-Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association] and the city does, every person in this town should be grateful,” said Layton.
With a strong turnout from the Cruisers this past weekend, and with the Memorial Day holiday kicking off the summer season this weekend, Layton looks forward to another summer at Layton’s with his family and his staff.
“It’s a happy, friendly place and that’s how we want to keep it. We’re proud to be here,” he said.