CRISFIELD — A popular waterfront restaurant closed for nearly two years was reopened this week by a group of locals who hope to send a clear message: Crisfield is still alive after Hurricane Sandy.
“The world, I believe, thinks Crisfield has been washed off the map,” said Jenny Tawes, who is running the Crisfield Crabhouse and Grill with her husband, John, and friend Jackie Wheatley.
Tawes, who runs a nearby gift shop in the front of the family’s oil business, said she frequently has customers who said they came to see what was left of the city after the storm.
Some of those same people also had trouble finding a place to eat lunch since several of the city’s restaurants are closed Monday through Wednesday.
More than that, Crisfield has been emotionally and economically down in the dumps since Sandy, and needs a boost.
“I don’t think we realized how much air the hurricane took out of us,” she said. “We knew there was a need.”
The business partners are leasing the 10th Street building from Jerry Hardesty, an Annapolis restaurant owner, who purchased it in 2009 and opened the Olde Crisfield Crab & Steakhouse and its adjoining tiki bar, which became a popular spot at nights, especially on weekends.
When the restaurant didn’t reopen for the 2012 season, a group of tiki bar fans waged an unsuccessful campaign on Facebook to get it opened up for the summer, and soon after that, the building was listed for sale.
Prior to Hardesty’s ownership, the building for many years housed the popular Side Street Seafood, where Raymond Anderson served as cook for 18 years.
Tawes said Anderson is back in the kitchen — along with former Captain’s Galley cook Tony Jackson — helping serve up what she calls a “tried and true menu.”
The menu features local seafood, chicken and other dishes, including the “Sea Nettle” — a blooming onion dish from the old Side Street menu.
Desserts include locally made Smith Island cake and meringue pies.
The restaurant is open daily beginning at 11 a.m. The tiki bar — which suffered damage in Hurricane Sandy — remains closed for now, but plans to reopen in the future.