Sunday, February 17, 2008

Bayshores Waterfront Sails to Inlet

Sails To Inlet

Sails Restaurant, formerlly the Waterfront and before that the legendary Bay Shores, will soon reopen as The Inlet, and will be run by Marty Grims and his crew from the Moshulu in Philly.

After the failure of Sails, run by two guys from South Philly via Margate, the new crew will be a welcome addition.

I wrote a Nightbeat column about the history of the joint this week that appears in the Ocean City SandPaper free weekly [See: Gazzette Papers ],

Sails to Inlet – By Bill Kelly There has always been a public house with a liquor license at the base of the Somers Point – Ocean City causeway since it was a terminal for the steam ferry boats. But over the years it has only been known by three names – Bay Shores, the Waterfront and Sails. The storied Bay Shores, one of the incubators of rock & roll, lasted for over a half-century, the Waterfront was there for two decades and Sails lasted three years. While those who remember Bay Shores and the Waterfront want a return to the “good old days,” Sails will not be missed for overpriced, small portion gourmet fare that was supposed to take Somers Point’s culinary status to another level. It never happened. Now we’re going to experience the fourth reincarnation of that prime location with The Inlet, a first-class, casual place brought to you by Martin Grims and the same people who delivered the Four Seasons and the Moshulu in Philly. And we can expect it to be everything that Sails promised but failed to deliver. According to Jeanie Hatton, one of Grims’ public relations crew, “The Inlet will offer an all-day menu of affordable American cuisine, creative cocktails and live entertainment, seven days a week.” I repeat, that’s “live entertainment, seven days a week.” And they promise to be open seven days a week, all year long. That means live entertainment 365 days a year. Historically, that was never the case. Bay Shores, in its last few decades, was the area’s premier rock & roll joint, which opened on the weekend after Easter and closed the weekend after Labor Day. Most everybody, including the cooks, bartenders and the bands, went to Florida for the winter. Longtime Somers Point bartender Vince Renich, who started out at Bay Shores in the early 1950s, once recalled that, “We’d come back in the spring and open the doors and the beer bottles would still be on the bar from the day we closed in September.” Attorney Harris Berman bought Bayshores and Tony Marts across the street in 1980 and leveled them, building the Waterfront, using the architectural drawings of a ski chalet, and Egos disco. Egos became Crazy Jane’s, Key West, Brownie’s and in it’s last manifestation, Ice, owned by Dr. Ira Trocki, who moved the liquor license down the street to Ernie’s old marina, now Tuckers. Ice still sits closed, awaiting development.The Waterfront, which real estate guru Jay Lamont bought from Berman, was one of the best places for casual fare and great entertainment for twenty years, especially on the deck. That is until Lamont sold out to Gary Holloway three years ago. Holloway owns GMH, one of the largest residential construction companies in the country and whose father built Gardens Plaza condos in Ocean City. His company however, builds primarily on college campuses and military bases, and he insists that there are no plans to develop condos at The Inlet site. While Holloway promised a fine bar and restaurant and revamped the old Waterfront deck magnificently, he also brought in two guys from South Philly and Margate to run Sails, and they failed magnificently, starting off by insulting the locals. Martin Grims commitment to this deal makes that promise real. “We are thrilled to become a part of the Somers Point community,” said Grims, “We want to create a year round restaurant with an inviting atmosphere and an enticing menu that appeals to everyone.” Grims graduated from Cornell University ’s School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, opened the prestigious Four Seasons in Philadelphia, then went on to open what is now Passerelle, the Tango Bar and Grill and Basil Bistro, all on the Main Line in Philadelphia, and DuJour Café and Market caterers. In 2003 Grims and his crew, which includes his brother Michael, revived the restaurant onboard the world’s oldest and largest four-masted ship Moshulu, at Penn’s Landing on Philadelphia ’s waterfront, which is a story itself. The Grims also owns The Plantation (Formerly the Owl Tree) and Daddy O, a restored boutique hotel, restaurant and bar on Long Beach Island, so they know the shore scene. According to their press release, “The Inlet’s color palette of crisp white and sea blue with bursts of sunny orange will call to mind a calm and playful seaside ambience. Bayside picture windows will allow every guest in the 400-seat restaurant to enjoy gorgeous views of the harbor. They promise a “lively lounge area, a circular bar” and an extensive wine list, and “an all-day menu” that will run from $7 to $16 and even more refined entrées, shore specialties and a simply grilled menu with sides and house sauces. Outside, the deck was always the place to go at the Waterfront, and Sails tried to keep the Sunday reggae thing going but it was difficult to get past the restaurant bar to get to the deck. That will all change and the revamped deck promises to be one of the hottest places to be this summer. I repeat, “Grims plans to offer live outdoor entertainment seven days a week,” and The Inlet deck will be the place to be. As soon as their lineup of bands and music is set for the summer, you’ll read about it here, and there’s already excitement in the air.
The Inlet will hold a grand opening party from 5-8pm on Monday, May 21 and open to the public Tuesday, May 22.


NIGHTBEAT051807 – The Inlet to Open This Week A new era begins this week when the Inlet opens at the landmark location at the foot of the Ocean City – Somers Point causeway. Known for the past three years as Sails, and before that the Waterfront and Bay Shores, the Inlet is set to start a new Jersey Shore tradition.
Led by Marty Grims, the Cornell graduate who opened the renown Four Seasons in Philadelphia, then rehabilitated the Moshulu ship into a fine restaurant at Penns Landing, the Inlet has an experienced team behind it that should make it into one of the best first class experiences at the shore. And live music is a big part of their plans.
After a grand opening party for his friends and new neighbors on Monday, the Inlet will open to the public on Tuesday and get into the swing of things by Memorial Day weekend, climaxing with a return of the reggae band Verdict for the traditional Sunday night island party, and the beginning of some new traditions.
Monday night’s party, for those who swing an invitation, will showcase the new motif, menu and music, featuring the Brian Parr Trio, one of a number of bands that Brian Lizzy of CTO productions is bringing in from Philadelphia for a new gig at the shore.
With Grims & Company now running a string of restaurants from center city Philadelphia to LBI and Somers Point, Brian has his hands full filling the entertainment slots with good music. Lucky for him there’s plenty of good music to go around.
Besides Brian Parr, other bands books so far include Dave Gustfson, Joe Mass, the Herb Smith duo, Key Largo and Patrice Hawthorne, a recording artists with Peaches & Herbs, all Philly acts that should be complimented by some local acts, once they get know the talent that’s already here. For the long run, think variety. “Not just island theme,” says Lizzy, “we’re going after good stuff, a variety of music styles.”
For Sundays this summer however, it is the island theme, which first started with Dr. Cheeko on the Waterfront deck sometime in the 1980s and remains one of the most consistant good times at the shore. I remember first seeing Dr. Cheeko playing Urie’s deck in Wildwood, shortly before they were relegated to the nearby Pegleg Lounge motel bar. Coming to Somers Point Dr. Cheeko started playing Island Night at the old Mediteranian Lounge on MacArthur Blvd., taking a slow Tuesday night and making it the best night of the week.
When the Med closed, Dr. Cheeko moved to the Waterfront, and Sunday night became Island Night. The Waterfront deck under Jay Lamont was the place to be when the weather was nice, but when it rained it was a total washout, so he either made a bundle or he went bust, and after a half-dozen consecutive washouts one summer, he sold the place to Brian Holloway.
When Holloway gave the keys to the guys who opened Sails, they seemed to just go through the motions of running a restaurant, and while featuring some good jazz in the bar, and a reggae band on Sundays, it just didn’t work.
Now with Grims at the helm, not only is Island Night back on Sundays, but the whole place should be the popular landmark attraction it was as Bay Shores for sixty years. As Bay Shores the back bandstand stretched out over the bay and water seeped through the cracks at high tide. They often joked that the dance floor would one day fall into the water, and if you remember the Waterfront deck, it really rocked and rolled.
When Holloway took over however, being in the construction business, they revamped the deck entirely, making it larger, on different levels, and with a streamlined look that makes you feel like your on a boat. If you only remember the Waterfront deck, it’s worth visiting the Inlet just to check out the new deck, a real woodwork marvel.
If nothing else, we know Sundays on the deck will be hot, hot hot, with Verdict, a New Jersey based reggae band out of Colonia, and including Marcelino Thompson on bass and percussion, Johnny Youth on drums and vocals, Roland lawrence on guitar and harp and Parry Jack on keys. For the most part they play traditional reggae, ska, soca and calypso covers, like Arrow’s “Hot, Hot, Hot,” UB40’s “Red Wine” and “Things You Do” (Temps), Bunny Wailer’s “Ballroom Floor,” everything Bob Marley, Third World’s “Now That We Found Love” and some islandized pop tunes like “Call Me Al” (Paul Simon), “Groven’” (Rascals) and “Wild World” (Cat Stevens). Verdict also has a CD of originals, “Irie, Irie, Irie,” which we will hear more of once they get in the Inlet grove. All of which are eminently danceable, and like Dr. Cheeko, if the music moves you, they will get down on the dance floor and teach you how to do the Butterfly and Dollar Wind dances. Usually Verdict plays North Jersey clubs, and seem to be the house band at Cheeseburger In Paradise in Secaucus, but this summer, they will make the Inlet the landmark location it always should be, at least on Sunday nights.
With Marty Grims promising “live music seven nights,” we can be sure that the Inlet will not be limiting their deck action to just Sunday nights, and it should be up and running daily, once the season is underway.
Which brings up the topic of time, and the city restricted hours that live music can be played outdoors. Bay Shores and the Waterfront bands played until 2 am in the morning, but because of the Bubba Mac Shack deck, which was close to condos, the city of Somers Point imposed a 10 pm curfew on live music outdoors.
Since the Shack is now defunct, and there are no neighbors within earshot of the Inlet, this restriction should be lifted or set back to a more reasonable hour. Instead of stopping abruptly just when everyone is having such a good time, they should let the good time roll into the night.
[Bill Kelly can be reached at ]
5/17/07by Bill Kelly


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