Anthony Orendorff grew up in the restaurant business. His parents, he said, had owned and operated restaurants his entire life.
Things changed in December 2017, when Gianni’s Italian Bistro, a well-known Halethorpe restaurant, closed suddenly in the midst of a rent dispute. His parents retired from the restaurant business and Orendorff, who had been splitting his time working at Gianni’s and in marketing for Maryland Live Casino, had to decide what came next.
With extra time now that Gianni’s was closed, and with money left to him by a relative, Orendorff, 25, decided it was time to invest and open a restaurant of his own.
His investment, Anthony’s Anchors Aweigh, opened in the Beltway Motel at 3648 Washington Blvd., on June 5. Since then, the bar/restaurant has been serving up steamed crabs, lasagna, omelettes, burgers and more.
Orendorff said the eclectic menu, ranging from seafood steamers to breakfast staples to Italian classics, is meant to be a combination of local tastes and a continuation of the kind of fare diners could get at Gianni’s.
He wants the restaurant to have “stuff that the neighborhood would like.”
The dining room and bar are open 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday-Thursday, and 7 a.m.-midnight Friday and Saturday. The restaurant will extend its hours on Sunday evenings to 11 p.m. when football season starts.
Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. weekdays and until 1 p.m. on weekends. Breakfast offerings range from six types of omelettes, creamed chip beef, pancakes and breakfast sandwiches.
Anthony’s will have steamed crabs year-round, owner Anthony Orendorff, 25, said. But he said he hopes a big draw will be the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat steamed crab nights each week.
On Mondays from 2:30 to 8:30 p.m., a diner can get all-you-can-eat steamed crabs for $35, with the option to add all-you-can-eat shrimp for a total of $49.40 — though there’s a two-hour limit, Orendorff said.
House specialties include crab cakes, grilled salmon, and shrimp and grits. Orendorff, a lifelong resident of the Arbutus and Halethorpe area, said his personal favorite menu item is “crab sauce Antonio,” described on the menu as jumbo lump crab meat sautéed in a crab sauce and served over bucatini pasta.
Other menu options include homemade lasagna, steak, steamers (like mussels and clams), burgers, broiled rockfish and an array of sandwiches.
The bar doesn’t have a happy hour menu yet, Orendorff said, but he expects it to be ready to go by the end of June. Happy hour will run from 3 to 5 p.m. weekdays, he said.
Anthony’s Anchors Aweigh takes the place of Chappie’s Diner Bar & Grill, which closed in June 2016 after about five years.
Orendorff said the renovations were costly, but that he was able to invest in the new business with trust money left by a deceased grandmother.
“Everything is modernized,” Orendorff said. “I’ve changed the whole place, new carpet, new floors, new everything, basically.”
Orendorff said he’s wanted to be in the restaurant business since he was a kid, but didn’t expect to be running his own place so young.
“It hits me, it hits me,” he said. “I was nervous at first, but now, you know, I got my feet wet, so I'm more confident.”
Michael McAuliffe, president of the Halethorpe Improvement Association, said he hadn’t been to Anthony’s yet, but was pleased to hear about the new business.
“I’m glad to see something open up in that space rather than see it go dormant or vacant,” McAuliffe said. “Especially if it’s a nice family restaurant with good food.”
Orendorff said his parents are not involved in the operation of Anchors Aweigh.
He also said he was able to hire some employees from Gianni’s, including a general manager and chef. Anthony’s Anchors Aweigh will honor Gianni’s gift cards that were purchased from between August and December 2017. Orendorff said the restaurant is always looking for employees, and interested applicants should inquire in person.