CRISFIELD, Md.— Emily Larmore took a risk.
For years, her mother, Vicky, nurtured a daydream that the pair could start their own catering business. Time kept floating by while the Marion Station native worked a 9-to-5 job with the U.S. Postal Service. Then, just three years ago, the vision seemed snatched away, as Larmore lost her mom unexpectedly.
This summer, she feels close again.
“I was trying to say, well, ‘I don’t know what mom would say,’ ” Larmore said, recalling a conversation with brother Russell Ford. “And he said: ‘You know 100% what your mom would say — she would say to do it.’ “
So Larmore wrapped up a stable, federal job of nearly nine years to start a restaurant.
The Fisherman’s Grille, a marriage between a traveling barbecue business her family once operated and the fresh fare her father nets as a commercial waterman, has opened for its first summer in Crisfield.
Nestled against Somers Cove Marina, the new restaurant has big shoes to fill in the small bay-shore community. Captain Tyler’s Crabhouse filled the 923 Spruce St. space for well over a decade as a Crisfield establishment with a strong reputation.
Larmore and Ford have shaken things up a bit.
“We didn’t want to come in and, you know, do a disservice to any of that,” Larmore said, under the slow spin of fans in her indoor dining room. “But at the same time, we kind of had some new ideas, some fresher ideas that we wanted to try.”
From tacos and barbecue also bobbing through the seafood menu, to an ice cream parlor, a revamped tiki bar and a massive hand-painted mural across the exterior, the family team is doing just that.
“She was just really known for her cooking,” Larmore said of her mother, with a smile. “On our menu, we have her chicken salad and some of her crab soup. When people compliment those, it always feels good.
“Just to know that your mom’s legacy is living on a little bit.”
Crisfield, with a view
Pulling open double doors, Larmore led the way to her covered patio seating.
The mother and business owner crossed the cool shade around pier tables — calling back to over a month’s work in remaking the restaurant’s interior, building tables, an ice cream shanti and more — while patrons filled tables lining the waterfront.
Sights of cheese-coated crab dip, crab cakes, fries and more added to the late lunchtime view.
Larmore said customers can expect to see specials aligned with what’s fresh and in-season. It might even be what her father brought in on the latest haul, she said, motioning to his boat tied up just across from the dining tables.
Fourth of July:Where you can still see fireworks in Maryland, Delaware
Though she and her brother are confident they want to continue introducing more than seafood options, the team plans to live up to their seafood roots.
“I feel like people kind of want a mix with seafood, so we like to mix it up,” she said. “Like right now we have crab, shrimp and clams special you can get with two sides, and then we also like to kind of change it up with barbecue …
“We like to experiment, see what happens, and then try to stay with what’s in-season.”
Larmore leads the kitchen alongside line cooks, implementing recipes close to her family, but she hopes to soon add a kitchen manager as well as more wait staff.
As of now, the new restaurant opens at 11 a.m. every day but Mondays, with an 8 p.m. close on weekdays and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The “Barknuckles” tiki bar opens at 4 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, then at 1 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Larmore hopes to see the restaurant stay open year-round, though offseason hours will likely differ. She aims to winterize the enclosed patio ahead of cold months.
Another goal is for Barknuckles to keep growing with live music offerings on the weekends, as well as possibly adding play spaces for kids when parents need time to relax.
The aims for her new restaurant echo the Westover resident’s hopes for the area, one she’s loved since her days working at Somers Cove Marina as a kid. She imagines a drive for lunch, docking for a quick bite or spending an afternoon at a tiki bar, may lead to exploring more shops and businesses downtown.
“We’ve seen a lot of people come in the restaurant that that aren’t locals,” she said, having opened her doors in May. “We’re hoping that Fisherman’s Grille can give people another destination, another thing to bring them to Crisfield.”
She knows one person who would approve.
“My mom would love the restaurant,” Larmore said through a light laugh. “And I probably would have to push her out at night and make her go home.
“I know she would have been here from sunup to sundown.”