WHALEYVILLE — Oasis owner Bobby Riccio has never been able to relax and let the patrons come pouring in through the door. Since he purchased the Old Ocean City Boulevard business four years ago, he’s constantly worked to create and maintain a regular customer base.
But more than that, he’s insinuated himself into the business community as a way of creating partnerships that improve both his and his partners’ profile.
That’s why this week he and the managers of Hooper’s Crab House in West Ocean City — Pat Brady and Ryan Inferi — have inaugurated Bikes to the Beach, also known as Spring Bike Week, an event likely to bring thousands of bikers to the region on what is supposed to be a glorious weekend.
“This event has been two years in the making,” Riccio said. “We were estimating that we’d have about 10,000 people but [our contacts] say it’s going to be bigger than we think.”
The attendance at the first Ocean City Bike Week, Riccio said, was about 10,000, which was why he considered it a reasonable goal.
In the interests of being a good neighbor as well as a responsible business owner, Riccio had a meeting with some members of state and local law enforcement to let them know about the event and his plan for handling the crowds.
As word has spread among the travel-biker community, it has become clear that attendance at the event will exceed everyone’s expectations possibly attracting as many as 25,000 people.
While both Oasis and Hooper’s will act as anchors, rally points and hosts to many of the main events, more than 40 local restaurants, bars and retail establishments have signed on, bringing both financial and communal support to the effort.
Getting like-minded businesses to help sponsor the events is what Riccio credits to having this event get off to such an anticipated flying start. With the financial backing appropriate to the size of the event, they were able to hire a professional promoter. From there, they were able to secure celebrities and organizations with name recognition among the travel-biker circuit.
Throughout both Friday and Saturday, Michael Ballard and Angie from the TRU TV reality show Full Throttle Saloon will be at Oasis for meet-and-greet opportunities.
Full Throttle Saloon is famous for being the destination bar for bikers who attend the annual rally at Sturgis, N.D. Sturgis is a kind of Mecca for bikers and the Full Throttle Saloon has become the center by expanding to serve 15,000 people at a time.
Other attractions include the International Bikini Team Contest Finals, held at Oasis Saturday and performances both days by biker comedian Tim Yarosh, bars all over the area will have different Bikes to the Beach-themed events.
For his part, Riccio hopes to parlay Oasis’ popularity among the bikers into a wider audience. While he still plans to inaugurate “Bike Days” every Sunday for the rest of the summer, he along with the other event sponsors sees this weekend as an opportunity to reach new audiences.
Bar manager Craig Morse said that given the down economy, it is important to keep pursuing customers with event marketing. Morse, who is overseeing the eventual installation of a 36-tap microbrew system and is planning a beer festival for June 18, said he understands that times are tight but felt it is even more reason for local businesses to do more banding together for events like these.
“People still want to have a good time,” he said.
For more information and a complete schedule of the Bikes to the Beach featured events visit the event website www.bikestothebeach.com.