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Ocean City Today: Hooper’s Crab House in WOC recognized by Comptroller
June 29, 2017
Ocean City Today
Hooper’s Crab House in WOC recognized by Comptroller
June 29, 2017
By Morgan Pilz
(June 30, 2017) Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot presented Hooper’s Crab House owners Pete and Royette Shepherd with the 2017 Bright Lights Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Monday, June 26, at their West Ocean City restaurant.
“This award recognizes this state’s thriving community of innovators and entrepreneurs who strengthen Maryland’s economy, generate jobs and tax revenue, develop new ideas that more effectively deliver services and products to the marketplace,” Comptroller Franchot said. “And the awardees have come from the private sector, which is so important, because it is the genius of the private sector that has the scale to produce jobs and wages and opportunities for our young people.”
The Shepherds were selected as the recipients of this award for their contributions to the Eastern Shore and for owning an iconic business to Ocean City.
“Pete and Royette, with the help of their incredible staff, have built a business that we can all be proud of,” Comptroller Franchot said. “They not only survived, but they’ve expanded in a highly competitive restaurant market because of their reputation that they built with their customers and the community. The future remains bright through this iconic and beloved business.”
Family and friends of the Shepherds gathered for the ceremony, as well as Sen. James Mathias and Worcester County Sheriff Reggie Mason, who was awarded a medallion for his years of service.
Comptroller Franchot gave similar medallions to Hooper’s Crab House’s four managers – Patrick Brady, Mike Glavich, Ryan Intrieri and Justin Keller for their years of service at the restaurant varying from 17 to 24 years, respectively.
There were rounds of applause and even a few tears as the Shepherds were given their award.
“This amazing place has quite literally risen from the ashes of a devastating fire some years ago,” Chief of Staff Len Foxwell said. “If anything, we’re selling Hooper’s short just by giving them one award this afternoon. We could give them several.”
The couple were very humble about their latest accomplishment.
“I don’t get many awards, I’ll tell you that,” Pete Shepherd said. “But it was great. It always is because we try to go under the radar. We don’t want to be in the paper, don’t want to do this, don’t want to do that, and it’s nice that somebody realized we have a great situation as far as I’m concerned.”
The Shepherds have owned Hooper’s Crab House, located at the foot of the Router 50 bridge in West Ocean City, for 35 years. They expanded the business to include an outdoor restaurant, Sneaky Pete’s, which opened in 1990, and a brewery, Fin City Brewing, which launched in 2012.
Hooper’s Crab House has a long and extensive history. Pete Shepherd helped build the restaurant himself when the land was just a corn field.
“We were on the wrong side of the bridge so we struggled for a lot of years and finally we clicked,” Royette Shepherd said. “It’s a true story of entrepreneurship; we never ever gave up.”
That determination kept going even after tragedy struck in 2002, when a fire burnt the original restaurant to the ground.
“We looked at them [our managers and employees] and thought we had to rebuild,” Royette Shepherd said. “We can’t let go. We picked ourselves up, brushed ourselves off and rebuilt.
“We rebuilt, and we just kept going on and getting bigger and bigger,” she continued. “So, the history is just a lot of commitment, a lot of hard work, a lot of love, a lot of support.”
Something the Shepherd are really proud of is their charity work. They are big supporters of Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House by the Sea on 66th Street. The facility is open year-round to provide a free getaway to the beach for critically ill children and their families whenever they may need to escape the stresses of their child’s illness.
“One of the things we’re really proud of is the Children’s House,” Pete Shepherd said.
Children battling cancer or other diseases who are staying at the Children’s House by the Sea are invited with their families to visit the restaurant each week and enjoy dinner.
“As the new families come each week, we bring them here so they can tune the world out and enjoy a fabulous afternoon with their children,” Royette Shepherd said. “One of our managers dresses up as a phenomenal looking pirate, walking around with the treasure chest, and my husband created the old meters (parking meters). We put them at Sneaky Pete’s, and every quarter put into these meters goes to the Children’s House at the end of the year. That’s something we’re really proud of.”
The Shepherds and their employees hope to continue to grow their business and give back to the community.