Tag Archives: Baltimore Ave.

Farewell, Bay ‘n Surf

While the former Bay ‘n Surf restaurant had sat vacant and crumbling since 2007, the shock of seeing it actually torn down today will undoubtedly leave a bitter taste in the mouths of many who remember it in its heyday—a time when it was the undisputed heavyweight champ of Maryland cream of crab soup.

bay n surf demolition 1-sharon nuzback

Photo: Sharon Nuzback

Videos courtesy of Chris Blucher

 

bay n surf demolition 2-dave deblasis

Photo: Dave DeBlasis

Photo: Sharon Nuzback

Photo: Sharon Nuzback

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Photo: Sharon Nuzback

Photo: John Mewshaw

Photo: John Mewshaw

Originally opened in 1965, the restaurant closed after a refrigerator compressor fire in the early morning hours of Valentines Day, 2007. Speculation about reopening—even at another location—floated around for years, but never materialized.

The initial word on the street is that the site will soon be home to a new mini strip center, but there’s been no confirmation on potential tenants. (Sadly, I’m guessing none will offer cream of crab soup, though).

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Bay ‘n Surf

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.

Photo: WTOP

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.

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Bill’s Carpet Warehouse

As a kid, I have to say that Bill’s Carpet Warehouse struck me as the most boring store in Laurel. Thankfully, my parents didn’t have to buy carpets all that frequently.

These days, the old building at 14815 Baltimore Ave—directly across from Laurel Shopping Center—is a Vitamin Shoppe… which, I suppose is a bit more exciting.

Display ad: Washington Post, July 3, 1983
Photo: Elydrith Fleshman-Aguilar
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