By Greg Ellison
(Aug. 22, 2019) The Matt Ortt Companies, which turned around the money-losing food operations at the Ocean Pines Yacht Club and Beach Club last year, inked a fresh 3-5-year contract last week that includes plans for a third location at the to-be-expanded Tern Grille.
The Ocean Pines Board of Directors voted 6-0 to approve a contract extension with the Ortt Companies, which came on board last year with a two-year deal.
The extension of that arrangement calls for the company to continue overseeing food and beverage services at the Yacht Club and Beach Club, and to assume control of the Tern Grille at the Ocean Pines Golf Club when it reopens next year.
The agreement signed last year expires on April 30, 2020, with the first of an initially three-year contract commencing on May 1.
Included in the agreement are two potential one-year extensions that are contingent on attaining first-year profit margins of $130,000 to add a fourth year, with a second-year target of $160,000 to tack on a fifth year.
Based on initial success, Ortt Companies cofounder Ralph DeAngelus foresees meeting the negotiated terms.
“We feel pretty confident we’re going to beat those numbers,” he said. “We’re ahead of the game this year.”
Ocean Pines General Manager John Viola said in a statement the Board of Directors was “thrilled,” to reach contract renewal terms.
“They’ve done a fine job in turning the Yacht Club and Beach Club around in terms of service, quality and better financial stewardship,” he said.
Echoing Viola’s sentiments, DeAngelus said, “It’s good for the Ocean Pines leaders, good for the Matt Ortt Companies and … we think it’s good for the residents … who come in and get good service and good food at a reasonable price.”
In the year-plus of providing dining options at the Yacht Club and Beach Club, DeAngelus said a rising tide of appreciation from the customer base continues to grow.
“I’ve said it a thousand times. We feel so welcomed by the residents of Ocean Pines it makes every one of us in management, and our frontline staff … work harder and harder to make sure we get everything absolutely perfect,” he said.
The new contract also calls on the Matt Ortt Companies to manage food and beverage operations for banquets, weddings and special functions at the trio of locations.
For DeAngelus, the additional responsibilities are a natural outgrowth of the atypical clientele at the Yacht Club.
“The customer base there is so different than other operations,” he said. “The Yacht Club is family bringing family and friends.”
Viola said developing the contract terms was a team effort by a workgroup consisting of (now former) board members Jeff Knepper and Frank Daly, former board member Esther Diller, Finance Director Steve Phillips, Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Larry Perrone, Executive Secretary Michelle Bennett and Marketing and Public Relations Director
To further the community connection, DeAngelus said the new Tern Grille would be marketed to the larger community beyond link lovers.
“It’s golfers, which means they don’t have time to sit down and eat a meal,” he said. “They want to grab and go [and] play their back 9 or front 9. We’re going to do more of a beach-club-style menu with … quick, good, fast food.”
Noting the golf crowd had traditionally congregated for breakfast at Tern Grille before hitting the greens, DeAngelus said the re-designed facility would have an expanded footprint to cater larger crowds.
“We’re going to put a big push to serving breakfast not just to the golfers but anyone that wants to come in,” he said. “Our motto is going to be breakfast is not just for golfers anymore.”
At worst a short drive for Pines residents, Tern Grille is strategically located within a five-minute walk of a multitude of homes, DeAngelus said.
“We want people to wake up … and say, ‘hey, let’s walk over to Tern Grille and grab breakfast,” he said. “We’re super excited to not just feed the golfers what they want, but also the Ocean Pines residents.”
Hours of operation in the contract renewal include the Yacht Club operating seven days a week from May 1 until Sept. 30, with the option for a reduced schedule of a minimum of three days from Oct. 1 through April 30. Outside of banquets, the facility will be shuttered beginning Jan. 2 through Super Bowl Sunday.
As per tradition, the Beach Club will be open seven days a week from the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day Monday.
When construction is completed, the Tern Grille will be open seven days a week from March 15 through Nov. 30, with a reduced schedule of a minimum of three days from Dec. 1 through April 30, plus weekends through the NFL Playoffs.