Since 1993, Charlie Getz’s Fenwick Island restaurant has provided customers with fresh food, a breathtaking view and affordable prices. What sets Charlie’s Bayside aside from other local establishments, however, touches on Getz’s simplistic mindset and welcoming personality.
“Running a restaurant,” said Getz, “especially in today’s economy, is a lot harder than people think. Most people assume it’s just an easy way to make money.” As more people see, however, many restaurants through the area close their doors on particular days of the week or during specific months after the summer weather and vacationers fizzle out. Getz, on the other hand, prides himself in keeping his doors open year-long, something he’s been doing for over a decade and a half, ensuring his patrons return.
Prior to taking over the place in 1993, Getz worked his way up for nine years, while it was Fenwick Feedbag. “Then,” he said, “it was more of a sandwich place. I had gone to school for hotel and restaurant management and was trying to work my way to the top. Finally, I was able to take over.” And takeover, he did. Along with the help of wife, Laura, and his business partner, Melvin Shifflett, Getz presented Charlie’s Bayside to the public, a favorite stop for countless customers that has seen very little change since its start.
“I wanted to bring a tropical feeling to the restaurant,” said Getz. And it shows, both in atmosphere and on the menu. While Laura lent a hand with the interior, offering her touch with decorating and organizing the warm-weather plants, Getz developed his original recipes into a mouth-watering selection that will bust your waistline but not your wallet. Diners can start the evening off with delicious appetizers, like Scallops Florentine, wahoo fingers and their popular sweet potato fries, before digging into their parmesan encrusted grouper or macadamia mahi. Nightly dinner specials are also a big hit, including twin lump crab cakes or their 10-ounce rib eye, but there’s one dish that customers come back for, time and time again - the $10.95, pound-and-a-quarter, whole Maine lobster.
“People come to the beach for good seafood,” said Getz. “Our fish is the freshest you can get, and the prices are very reasonable. The lobster, though, is easily our best seller, and it’s what people keep coming back for. There’s a lot of competition now, so we’re looking to make things more affordable. I know it’s tough, but our customers are great to us.”
Despite the slip of the market, Getz saw steady business all summer long. “We had a great summer,” he said. “While other restaurants were moving into the area, we lowered a few prices. That’s what people like. We’re not just competing with the restaurants around here. Even chains and fast food stops can pull your business away, and a lot of time, they can offer low prices.” But with his experience in the kitchen, Getz gives customers a quality of food with which many cannot compete.
And as if looking over the restaurant and piecing together the menu wasn’t enough, Getz is constantly finding new ways to connect with his clientele and conserve some extra money. “We’re a town that goes from 250,000 people in the summertime to 6,000 or 7,000 in the offseason,” he said. His summer help throughout the restaurant can include dozens, but becomes respectively smaller in the cooler months; so much so, that sometimes, he and his wife are wearing all kinds of hats. “I can cook, bartend and wait tables,” he said, “and my wife can hostess, bring food out, make up drinks. It makes things a lot easier when you can do every job in the restaurant. Payroll is one of the few things you can control in a restaurant. Being able to do everything in the restaurant has taught me a lot.” With his hand in every restaurant role, Getz is able to connect even closer with his customers, who make it a habit to stop by when they can.
“We’ve got people who have been coming here the same week every summer since 1993,” he said. “One couple comes down to the beach for two weeks in the summer and one week in September, and they’re eating dinner here 21 times, every night for those three weeks.”
Charlie’s Bayside has remained as simple as it was in the start, as it overlooks the canals of Fenwick, leading out to the Assawoman Bay. A casual atmosphere promises a relaxing afternoon or evening with a great view and accommodating seating, inside or out. Despite being tucked into the Village of Fenwick, Charlie’s is a real treat to those who know about it. “Customers are stopping in to find out about it,” said Getz, “or they’re coming back because they enjoy the environment and food. Our staff is like a family here, and the customers appreciate that.”
For more information, stop into Charlie’s Bayside, all week long, from 4 p.m. on, in the Villages of Fenwick, or call (302) 539-3526.