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Chamber of Commerce: A new model for restaurants - Ocean City Sentinel: Home

Chamber of Commerce: A new model for restaurants

‘As long as they’re following the rules... I see it as a way to keep people in Ocean City’

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Posted: Wednesday, November 13, 2019 8:39 am

OCEAN CITY – Restaurants operating on barrier islands in the off season either close for the winter or remain open with a smaller clientele than during the bustling summers.

In dry towns like Ocean City, having wine with dinner isn’t an option.

Michele Gillian, executive director of the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce said dinner clubs are “a new model” for restaurants.

“The restaurants are taking advantage of the Yacht Club and the Riverboat Club. As long as they’re following the rules and it’s after the models of those institutions I see it as a way for restaurants to increase their revenues and keep people in Ocean City,” Gillian said.

Dinner clubs offer diners the option of bringing alcohol to the restaurant for their private consumption.

But there’s a catch.

The diners must pay an annual membership fee – ranging anywhere from $5 to $250 – to consume alcohol with dinner.

Gillian said the dinner clubs are a way to keep people in Ocean City instead of having a mass exodus to Somers Point’s restaurants and bars.

Jon & Patty’s Coffee Bar & Bistro at 637 Asbury Ave. have an exclusive dinner club, with a separate room for club members, she said.

“The separation is good. Jon and Patty’s is a prime example of how it works,” Gillian said, “They have a membership and it’s separated. It needs to be blocked off from the general public.”

Gillian said the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce awarded Jon and Patty Talese, owners of Jon & Patty’s Coffee Bar & Bistro, Citizens of the Year in 2018 for their philanthropy in the community.

“Jon and Patty are leaders in the downtown. She’s the chairperson for the Downtown Merchants. He does philanthropy. They’re extremely active in the schools. All those reasons are why they were picked for Citizens of the Year,” Gillian said.

Gillian said Cousin’s Restaurant at 104 Asbury Ave. also offers a dinner club, with the restaurant only open to members on certain nights of the week.

“As long as they’re following the rules, we support it and we see it as advantageous that most people throughout Ocean City if they look to being a member of these clubs it’s very easy to sign up for and become members and stay in Ocean City,” Gillian said.

During the winter months, when most restaurants temporarily shutter, they can now stay open for locals who join dinner clubs, she noted.

“In the offseason, it seems to make Ocean City more viable for these restaurants,” Gillian said. “Being in the restaurant business is a difficult challenge. It’s a good thing that people have the opportunity to become members of these clubs and have fine dining in Ocean City.”

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