Photo: Stu_Jo (Flickr)
Photo: Stu_Jo (Flickr)
On a chilly, rainy day like today, who couldn’t use a nice bowl of Maryland’s finest cream of crab soup?
By most accounts, Bay ‘n Surf aptly advertised their signature soup, lovingly crafted in the distinctive 300-seat restaurant with decorative lighthouse at 14411 Baltimore Avenue—the location it called home since 1965. But the restaurant that had seen so many romantic Valentines Day dinners over the years did not have a happy Valentines Day in 2007, when a compressor for one of the restaurant’s walk-in refrigerators ignited at approximately 6:15 AM, setting ablaze a nearby office and parts of the kitchen. According to firefighters, the dining area was essentially untouched; and while preliminary estimates put the damage at $500,000, the owner told The Washington Post that she planned to reopen by May of that year.
Now more than five years after the fire, the restaurant—and its distinctive lighthouse—sit eerily empty.
Despite the occasional rumor of Bay ‘n Surf returning—or, more likely, reopening in a new location outside of Laurel, nothing of the sort has materialized. The property has evidently been sold, however, but there’s been no official word on what’s to become of it. Odds are, however, whatever the new place is, the cream of crab soup just won’t be the same.
You can still experience some of those Bay ‘n Surf memories—and a decent bowl of cream of crab soup—right next door, though. Nuzback’s Bar, another Laurel landmark which has sat directly beside the old seafood restaurant all these years, (including the years before Bay ‘n Surf, when it was the notorious Oakcrest Inn!) is still going strong, and they have an outdoor seating area where you can enjoy your food and drinks while gazing over at what’s left of the Bay ‘n Surf.
When I was growing up in the 1970s and 80s, Nuzback’s had a bit of a reputation as a rough place (to put it mildly). But I doubt they’ve ever had quite the drama that the old Oakcrest Inn had—especially on August 29, 1955, when a deadly gun battle apparently broke out… between a pair of middle-aged brothers, no less. One of whom owned the place:
Washington Post, August 30, 1955
The surviving brother was later acquitted, citing self defense. You have to wonder if he ever went back, perhaps after it became the Bay ‘n Surf. After all, they did have Maryland’s finest cream of crab soup.