Fresh, local seafood a staple in Ocean View

For Pennsylvania native Bill Welham, running Ocean View Seafood has become more than an occupation. Since his move to the area roughly two decades ago, it has become more or less his life, and why not? He spent much of his early life on the open ocean, and even ran his own restaurant back home.

Coastal Point • RUSLANA LAMBERT: Ocean View Seafood offers a wide variety of seafood to the summer crowd in Ocean View.Coastal Point • RUSLANA LAMBERT
Ocean View Seafood offers a wide variety of seafood to the summer crowd in Ocean View.

Ocean View Seafood has turned into a happy medium of both Welham’s passions and knowledge of the sea, business management and food, but he soon learned that everything comes with its price.

Welham and his family had vacationed at the Sea Colony resorts for years, and when the building that now houses Ocean View Seafood — also a seafood market at that time — went up for sale 17 years ago, he made his move.

“I figured it’d be a good investment,” he said, though it needed some touching-up and Welham put more than his share of time into the building’s restoration. “It was run-down when I first bought it,” he recalled. “Everything — all the equipment — is new since I took over.”

Along with the physical renovations, updating the store’s reputation seemed like quite a task at first. “I didn’t know what I’d get myself into,” he said.

As it turned out, Welham was able to get himself into what has become one of the longest-running seafood market businesses in the area. For 17 years under his watch, and eight years prior to that, Ocean View Seafood has been providing some of the freshest seafood selections in the area — for a quarter of a century now. Once he purchased the property, Welham added the tobacco shop that still sits next-door, but he eventually returned strictly to the seafood market.

For five years running, Ocean View Seafood was a family affair. Welham’s son spent time running the shop before returning to Pennsylvania, working in the glass industry — another area of expertise in the Welham family. Bill Welham spent time building houses in Pennsylvania but suspects now he’ll continue with the seafood market for as long as he can.

Ocean View Seafood carries an extensive assortment of fresh seafood, including tuna, mahi-mahi, cod, sea trout, oysters and scallops. Customers can also stop in and purchase frozen favorites, such as snow crab clusters, crawfish and even frog legs. Genuine New England lobsters also move in and out of Ocean View Seafood.

Shoppers are greeted inside by a wide variety of seasonings, sauces and spices to add to all kinds of seafood dishes. Lump crabcakes are made daily and sold as well. From Corn Chow Chow, Vidalia onion sauce and original season blends to homemade macaroni salad, potato salad and coleslaw, they carry everything needed for flavors and sides to go with the seafood itself. Cream of crab and spicy Maryland crab soups are also made and sold at Ocean View Seafood.

Without a doubt, though, the most popular items in the store are Welham’s crabs, sold by the dozens or bushels, live or steamed.

“We’ll go where we have to to get them,” he said. Most of the crabs, which come in sizes ranging from small to extra large, come from Maryland’s nearby Wye River. Steamed clams and shrimp are also among the store’s top sellers. Flounder is among Ocean View Seafood’s most popular fish, too.

Running the establishment can keep Welham busy enough, and ironically, he admitted he is not a fisherman at heart. “I’ve been looking at fish all my life,” he said. “I don’t need to look at them any more than I already do.”

Over the years, the flow of customers has fluctuated.

“Business hasn’t been the same on account of the gas prices,” Welham said, though everyone who still stops in finds what they’re looking for. While there are numerous regulars who make their appearance in his store every season, many of Welham’s customers come from outside the town.

The store, located along Route 26, just behind the Ocean View Deli, sits at a prime location for passers-by. The store is open from early April and past the end of the summer season. This year, Welham hopes to stretch to December.

“We’ve tried staying open year-round,” he said, “but it just doesn’t always work.”

Customers are encouraged to call ahead for orders, due to seasonal availability. For more information or to place orders ahead, call (302) 537-7511.

Summer season hours (from Memorial Day through Labor Day) run Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.; and on Sunday from noon until 5 p.m.