Co-founders and managing partners of Matt Ortt Companies assured Ocean Pines residents Thursday evening at a standing-room-only town hall meeting that the newly hired management company is doing what it can to improve the food and beverage operations at the Beach Club and Yacht Club.

The town hall, which was hosted by the Ocean Pines Communications Advisory Committee and lasted more than two hours, attracted members of the Ocean Pines Association who filled the Assateague Room of the Ocean Pines Community Center on Thursday, April 19.

Matt Ortt took to the podium to introduce his management team and to remind the audience of his connection and commitment to the Ocean Pines community.

“There are many reasons why we are going to succeed at what we are going to do,” said Ortt. “But I am going to tell you the most important reason, the number one reason. If you don’t remember anything from this tonight, I want you to remember this: my mother lives in Ocean Pines and I will never hear the end of it if I don’t succeed.”

On the front row sat Stewart Diefold, partner and executive chef of Matt Ortt Companies, flanked by Yacht Club Executive Chef Joel Blice, Yacht Club General ManagerLewis Sherman and Yacht Club Assistant General Manager Tommy Steele.

“At Matt Ortt Companies, we are a team,” said Ortt. “We are all lifers in this business. It’s all we’ve ever done. I came here when I was 13 years of age, went to high school here, went to Salisbury University. I am invested in this community.”

Key team player Ralph DeAngelus, Matt Ortt Companies co-founder and managing partner, followed with encouraging the crowd to engage in “open and honest communication.”

“Here’s the good news: there’s a lot more good news than there is bad,” said DeAngelus. “The bad news is some of the bad things are bad but we can get through them.” He went on to say, “We will figure it out that is what we are being paid to do.”

Matt Ortt Companies, which brings more than 25 years of experience to the beach and yacht clubs, has been granted a two-year management contract by the Ocean Pines Association.

“We know who we are dealing with,” said DeAngelus. “We know what our demographic is. We know Ocean Pines has a large demographic. But we know they consider this property, in particularly the Yacht Club – home.”

Overlooking the Isle of Wight Bay and skyline of Ocean City, the Yacht Club features a two-story building with catering and dining facilities. The upper level is home to a stunning ballroom and deck in addition to a bar and bridal and groom suites.

Downstairs is a casual-to-elegant eatery with indoor and outdoor seating as well as two bars. Outside are a spacious patio with fire pits, Adirondack chairs, a bandstand and a seasonal Tiki Bar and swimming pool.

“We are going to have happy hour at both locations,” said DeAngelus. Happy hour at the Yacht Club is slated for 3-6 p.m., according to DeAngelus.

He shared that live entertainment will take place from 6-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights at the Yacht Club. Trivia Night is also set to return to the Yacht Club.

In addition to changing the flow of Yacht Club entertainment and events, the management company has changed the flow of foot traffic in the restaurant.

“The front entrance of the restaurant will no longer be where you would come in if you were to go to a banquet upstairs,” said DeAngelus. “It’s now going to be around the side of the building. It works perfectly. When you come in, we’ve moved a wall back about 4 feet and a hostess desk will be there to see you when you come in.”

Three 6-foot partitions will help to separate the dining space from the bar space downstairs.

“The flow of the restaurant has become better,” said DeAngelus. “We’ve upgraded the table and chairs.” Matt Ortt Companies’ interior designer Tobie Jacobs was brought in to give the restaurant an inviting ambience. Walls have been painted and some have been covered with textured wall paper. New lighting fixtures have been added.

DeAngelus said, “You’re going to feel as if you’re in a beautiful restaurant and not a cafeteria.” The management team said the menus will be affordable and consist of quality selections.

When asked what the official names of the two amenities would be, DeAngelus answered, “the Ocean Pines Yacht Club and the Ocean Pines Beach Club.”

The Yacht Club will host a soft opening for an invite-only guest list on Monday, May 14. At this time, the kitchen will undergo” a stress test.” The team will then have a few days to fine-tune its services before opening to the public on Thursday, May 17.

DeAngelus said the Yacht Club will be open year-round, seven days a week in season and then at a reduced schedule of a minimum of three days a week out of season.

The Beach Club, which covers the ocean-side block of land between 49th and 50th streets in Ocean City, Md., will host a private soft opening on Thursday, May 17. The three-level cedar shake building will then open to the Membership on Friday, May 25.

Matt Ortt Companies is hosting a job fair for the yacht and beach clubs on Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Ocean Pines Yach Club, 1 Mumford’s Landing Road in Ocean Pines. The company will be hiring managers, shift leaders, line cooks, prep cooks, servers, bussing staff, cashiers, banquet staff members, hosts, hostesses, bartenders, bar backs, taxi drivers, dishwashers and nighttime cleaning staff.