OCEAN CITY — De Lazy Lizard, a relative newcomer to the Ocean City bar scene, is expanding to two new locations within the resort for summer 2013.
The bar’s ownership is building a microbrewery and beer garden at the former Melvin’s Steak House, located at the corner of First Street and Philadelphia Avenue. That’s a stone’s throw from its original bayside home at First Street, which opened in June 2009.
A second Lizard location on the Boardwalk between Fourth Street and Fifth Street is planned for the boxy former home of a Sunsations retail store. Both spots will feature at least three new kinds of Lizard draft beer that will be on tap.
“We’re moving full speed ahead,” said co-owner Wayne Odachowski. “It’s going to be fun. We’re really excited … We spent a lot of time focusing on careful expansion this year. We don’t want to deplete the quality of our service, our product. It’s been so well-received.”
Melvin’s owner Bill Gibbs, who also controls The Dough Roller pizza chain, said he approached De Lazy Lizard owners with the idea to expand into Melvin’s and lease the property.
“I think it’s a great idea,” Gibbs said. “Some people can be inside, and not be outside at the lizard. I think it’ll be a nice compliment to the downtown businesses.”
Melvin’s had operated as a family-owned business since the 1950s. Gibbs acquired the restaurant in 2006 but decided to call it quits in leasing the property to De Lazy Lizard. The building dates to 1930, according to property records available online.
The brewpub, which will seat about 140 people, will offer a rustic flair. Demolition inside Melvin’s is complete, and the interior decoration will all be replaced.
Odachowski said he will try to use some of the existing finishes in the building, though the only remaining aspect of the Melvin’s brand will come in the form of a menu item or a sign on the wall.
Menu plans include pub fare like bratwurst, fish and chips and hamburgers. De Lazy Lizard also will incorporate a bakery in the building.
Plans also call for an open-air beer garden. Don’t call him a brewmaster — that’s “Brew Lizard” Rod Hillman, who will brew a Lazy Lizard-branded IPA, an ale and a lager on-site, according to Odachowski.
They’re now waiting to secure a liquor license through Worcester County. De Lazy Lizard may have to hire about 120 people to fully staff its three locations by the start of summer, though the opening date depends on how soon a county liquor license is secured.
Odachowski also said he’s been in touch with the owners of Evolution and Burley Oak breweries, and has been welcomed into the growing fraternity of Lower Shore brewers.
“I’m really surprised that they sort of just opened their doors,” he said. “We could be viewed as a competitor but they’re still open arms, willing to help in any way they can. If they said it once, they said it 10 times. ‘Let us know if we can help you in any way.’”
Odachowski said the Ocean City Development Corp., a group that promotes downtown businesses and facade improvements, has been supportive of the project from the start.
Glenn Irwin, executive director of the OCDC, helped De Lazy Lizard secure $5,000 in business grants to fund fixed interior improvements.
“We just want to be a part of support of a relatively new business in Ocean City. They’ve really done very well, and we just want to be a part of that success,” Irwin said.
This will be the second microbrew operation to open this year in Ocean City proper.
Hammerheads on the Boardwalk at Ninth Street is set to open a brewery later this year. Just over the Route 50 bridge, Hooper’s Crab House has been brewing its own beer since last spring.