Back in the 80's, those of you dining on our lovely deck listening to the music and enjoying our wonderful food would've at that time been swimming. Anchor Bay "East" Marina was founded by Art & Tina Cox and Art's parents Ron & Ruth Cox.
Before opening, this establishment was nothing more than a trash pile for debris. Immediately, Art wanted a deck in this area and Ron thought he was absolutely crazy! Which those who know Art know- that is absolutely true.
It very soon it became an uncovered area for picnic tables. Great idea, but as you can imagine it was pretty deserted on a day of bad weather. Our first plan was to put it under cover, as we did! This turned into a great hangout for our slip renters in semi-decent weather. After much of that wind and rain on Art Cox (Owner)'s face we all knew this place was going to go a little further. Eventually, our picnic area became the CrabShack! Our 10 picnic table deck became a room with a door and even windows! Boy, were we excited! Our coffee stayed warm and our feet stayed dry! The CrabShack was taken over by the slip renters as we had hoped. They all put in there ideas and donations until we had heat/AC, tables, chairs, microwaves, coffee pots, refrigerators, counter tops, and even a woodstove. As you may or may not know a woodstove these days can get a little tricky and unpredictable. Well our late, slip renter and great friend, Dale Raub (fireman) found that out and did manage to catch our CrabShack on fire. Nothing too serious we patched the roof and were back in business the next evening! Ok we had a swimming pool too, but that was short-lived.
By now were into the 2000's and collectively had a great thing going on the weekends.Tragically, in 2005 Hurricane Isabel hit us pretty hard. After 72 hours of no sleep and constant swims out to check everything it was finally over. To everyone's surprise we had no real damage and two days later, the CrabShack was back in business, again! Now that's commitment. By the front door you'll see watermark plaques that show the actual height of the water during the storm. After all of our ups and downs and plenty of drinking nights the "HYC idea" was being discussed more and more. All it finally took in the winter of 2006 was the help of Brett Austin, formerly of Cactus Willies, County Executive Jim Smith, his staff, and the boys at Anchor Bay. Before we could realize it, the Hard Yacht was getting ready to open for business! Art's daughter Jennifer lured boaters into the bar with fresh crushes & her infamous laugh, heard from the TIKI! Courtney sat down with Brett & the kitchen crew and brainstormed our menu pretty close to the one you have. In 2009, we were named one of Baltimore's Best Bars in Baltimore Magazine.
As the boaters of Bear Creek brought about the best in the place, more locals learned of the new dock-bar down in Dundalk. Soon the word of mouth was traveling all along the water & even to other states. The parking lot became packed every weekend for live music and delicious food & drinks! The kitchen design was hardly enough for the colossal crowds of hungry HYC customers who couldn't get enough Conch Fritters & HYC Eggrolls! We had to craft a few additions to our kitchen and restaurant to keep up, even in our "off-season".
Our management team grew too, by a few of the hardest working Hoovers in the business! The serving staff and bartenders pulled together & poured everything they had into welcoming the waves of people on the busy weekends. The TIKI bar attracted a group of regulars who have really left their mark on the place, our very own Ramp Crew. Thanks to our hardworking team, loyal friends and customers, and invigorated kitchen staff; the Hard Yacht Cafe has flourished. It has been ten years since we've opened our doors and docks to the community. Honestly, to myself and many others the rest of the details all blur together in a huge rush. We have a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and bruises that went into our establishment. Did I mention tears?
Founders and Owners
TheHard Yacht Cafe