Some Ocean City businesses are closing their doors early to keep their staff and customers safe after a series of boardwalk brawls.
“It’s unusual. We don’t like closing if we don’t have to. I close to protect the employees. I don’t want them to get hurt, so by 9 o’clock we’re out of here,” said Bull on the Beach founder and president Phil Houck.
Houck says that while most of his customers are loyal and bring nothing but positivity to his restaurant, he hopes that the issues here on the boardwalk die down soon. “A lot of these troublemakers are not from Ocean city or the surrounding areas. They’re all from out of town. I think it’s very important for everybody to know,” said Houck.
Houck says that after 40 years in business, he’s never had to close early because of issues on the boardwalk. “I’ve never seen this in town. I don’t think anybody’s ever seen this in town. The only time we have to close early is if there’s a hurricane or a big storm. Now we have a storm of rowdy people coming in and it doesn’t do good for our town,” said Houck.
The Ocean City Hotel Motel and Restaurant Association says that other businesses have voiced their concerns as well. Executive director Susan Jones says this kind of behavior isn’t what ocean city is all about. “Everyone in town – the residents, the visitors, the business owners – we’ve all been really super concerned because it’s not activity that we normally see happen in our community,” said Jones.
Jones tells 47ABC that she thinks Mayor Rick Meehan and police chief Ross Buzzuro have done a good job of stepping up safety. “When it happens in our backyard, we get concerned and we get protective. I think that you seen that and Chief Buzzuro’s message,” said Jones.
Houck says that his main concern is the safety of his employees. Houck tells 47ABC that if cutting back hours means keeping them out of harms way, that’s what he’s going to do. “I always think of my employees first. I mean I’m very pro employee. Without them we’re really nothing. So, I want to make sure they’re safe and happy and take care of them,” said Houck.
The restaurants says they will return to normal business hours as soon as they feel it’s safe for their employees. Houck says that he has spoken with Mayor Meehan and suggested getting more officers on the boardwalk.
Meanwhile, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan recently weighed in on the violence in Ocean City. “The rash of violence we have seen in Ocean City in recent days is completely unacceptable. Maryland State Police will continue to support the Ocean City Police Department and deploy troopers for enhanced patrol assistance,” said Governor Hogan.