After serving Ocean City for 66 years, Phillips Crab House has permanently closed.
The remaining restaurant, located at 2004 N. Philadelphia Ave., was Phillips Seafood’s original location.
Phillips Seafood has since grown into a regional seafood company. Renowned for its seafood, Phillips operates restaurants in free-standing buildings, airports and casinos along the East Coast.
In a Facebook post, the Phillips family said it was “extremely difficult” to close the Ocean City eatery. They did not say why the restaurant has closed.
“Not many restaurants live to see their 50th season, let alone celebrate over 65 years, and our family credits the amazing Crab House team for giving the business such longevity,” the family wrote in the post.
The family added they are focusing their efforts on the continued growth of their business.
In 2018, Phillips closed its second Ocean City location, which had been rebranded as the Phillips Bayside Cantina.
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The story of Phillips Seafood is an American tale of humble beginnings, hard work and the courage to take risks to achieve one’s vision.
The late Brice and Shirley Phillips grew up on Hoopers Island, a small community where most residents worked on the water, Delmarva Now and The Daily Times previously reported.
Early on in their married life, they managed Brice’s father’s seafood packing plant. A.E. Phillips seafood packing plant began in 1914.
Faced with surplus crabs one season, the couple decided to open a small crab shack in Ocean City: the original Phillips Crab House on 20st Street in 1956.
“After my father got back from the war, really, a small seafood processing business would not support two families,” Steve Phillips, the couple’s son, told The Daily Times in 2014. “So they came to Ocean City and they founded a little 30-foot-by-30-foot carry-out shop, and that’s how we started, right on 20th Street.”
As the restaurant grew, room by room, the Phillips family lived on the top floor of the restaurant. After his parents moved into a home of their own, Steve Phillips stayed put and called the restaurant his home for almost 30 years, where he raised his own family.
“I had a sandbox up on the roof,” he said, for his kids.
What began as a one-room carryout, grew dining room by dining room, over the years until it could seat 1,400 guests.
Business grew quickly from there, as the family expanded into new locations and markets.
Phillips Seafood House and Phillips Beach Plaza Hotel were built in the 1970s, Phillips Harborplace in Baltimore and Phillips Flagship in Washington, D.C., came in the ’80s.
The fourth generation, family-owned company, moved into franchising.
Maddie Aiken is the community reporter for Delmarva Now/The Daily Times. Have a story tip or idea? Send it her way at email@example.com or on Twitter @madsaiken.