By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(July 4, 2019) Since taking over the Ocean Pines Beach Club and Yacht Club one year ago, the Matt Ortt Companies have experienced successes with those operations.
Matt Ortt Companies have operated national chains including TGI Fridays and Hooters as well as nightclubs. Current clients include Abbey Burger Bistro in Ocean City.
Last year, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors unanimously approved a contract with the companies to run food and beverage operations at the yacht club and beach club after both businesses lost nearly $800,000 in the preceding 12 months.
Now, the businesses have netted approximately $88,000 for May.
“The beach club did $18,488 this year in May more than it did last year in May.” Company co-founder Ralph DeAngelus said. “And the Yacht Club did $69,491 in profit more this year in May than it did last year in May. Now that’s not sales increases. Those are profit increases.
“That’s an amazing statistic,” he continued. “We put in perspective that if we just do exactly the same from here on out for the last 11 months of the year in both these facilities as we did last year not increasing by a single penny, we’re going to end the year up $88,000 in profit and more than we did last year.”
In order to bring up profits, the company focused on better customer service and food quality. It also cut some costs without sacrificing the quality.
“We buy in bulk,” DeAngelus said. “When you buy in bulk [with] all the properties we have, we get a better price on food and on liquor. Our staff is so well trained that you don’t need as many people on. One person can do the job of one and a half. So if you have 20 people on who can do the job of 30 people, then you’re saving money in labor.
Between both facilities, Matt Ortt Companies employs around 150 staff members.
“Of course, our service has always been our strong point … we make a point to hire the smile and teach the skill,” he continued. “That’s not just at the Ocean Pines locations … that’s at all of our locations.”
Extensive remodeling had to be done at both facilities, and that has helped as well.
For the beach club, most of the walls have been removed to become more of an open space concept with removable windows as the walls instead. The company also renovated the kitchen area of the Yacht Club, which originally looked like a cafeteria, and transformed it into a dining room space.
“We’ve done some great remodeling,” DeAngelus said. “The board allowed us to remodel the beach club and what a difference it has made. We had our first wedding there since we’ve taken over and the pictures are phenomenal. You would never ever know you were at the beach club … it’s just a spectacular venue now.”
The response has been very positive, DeAngelus said.
“In Ocean Pines, I was walking through the dining room [at the Yacht Club] and a guy was there with his family and he saw me walk into the dining room,” DeAngelus said. “He literally in the middle of his meal put his knife and fork down, got up and came over to say to me, ‘I just want to tell you thank you for everything you’ve done here.’
“Here’s a guy who interrupted his meal with his family to get up and tell me how much he appreciates what I’ve done,” he continued. “That’s amazing. That makes me feel so appreciated that all it does is make me want to work harder. I want everybody to feel the way that one guy felt.”
Now the company is competing against itself to bring in more profits for the yacht club and beach club since Ocean Pines and the Ortt Companies signed a two-year deal last May to manage both facilities.
“We were given great customer service and the food quality was better and the entertainment was better and our customer satisfaction level was really high,” he continued. “It’s been really rewarding. You know whenever you succeed it makes it more fun.”
DeAngelus said there have been preliminary talks about extending that contract, which expires next April.
“We’re going to renegotiate and hopefully we can extend it,” he said. “We’re hoping to do this for many years to come with Ocean Pines.”