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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Crush and Crabs to fill long-vacant Boomer’s spot

(March 26, 2015) Berlin Economic Development Director Ivy Wells made filling the long-vacant property on the corner of Route 113 and South Main Street a priority during a public meeting earlier this month.
Now, it appears that commitment is becoming a reality.
John Cookro, a Berlin resident who operates Bluefin Poolside Bar & Grill in Ocean City, leased the former Boomer’s restaurant building last week. Cookro intends to open a new restaurant, Crush and Crab, at the site on June 1.
“We’re still quite a ways away, but I know everybody is excited,” Cookro said. “My phone has been blowing up all weekend.”
Cookro said his fiancé, Valerie Hopkins, would run the restaurant while he acts as manager.
“We’re focusing on orange crushes and steamed crabs,” he said. “We’re not really an all-you-can-eat crab place, but we’re going to do platters with chicken and crabs. We’re also keeping the ice cream idea, doing milkshakes and floats as well.”
The tentative logo, according to Cookro, will feature a crab squeezing a pair of halved oranges.
“We’re going to face up [the building] a little bit,” he said. “Not a whole lot is going to change with the footprint. It’s just adding a lounge, making it a little cozier. The landlords agreed to redo the parking lot, and we’ll get some signage out there and spiff it up a little.”
The only major obstacle remaining is a liquor board hearing on April 15.
“We’re trying to get our liquor license, and obviously Crush and Crabs is not going to work if we can’t have alcohol, but there’s no reason we shouldn’t from what we’ve heard,” Cookro said.
Wells said Crush and Crabs is a perfect example of renewed interest in the town sparking “the potential for new business.”
“This was my goal during the strategic planning,” she said. “I didn’t think it would happen this quickly, but I’m glad that it has. It’s an excellent location because it’s a gateway into the town, and it’s been sitting vacant.”
Wells said she expects the mural on the front exterior of the building that depicts turn-of-the-century downtown Berlin will remain intact.
“From what I understand it’s going to stay,” she said, adding that the town would “definitely be offering” tax incentives to Cookro.
“They’re very willing to help,” Cookro said. “I don’t know what I need quite yet, but I don’t see running into many obstacles.”
Cookro called the entire process “a learning experience.”
“I’ve never done anything like this. I know how to run a restaurant – I don’t necessarily know how to build one,” he said. “It’s obvious that the town wants this. I’m just hoping I can pull it all together. The pressure is on.”