(Ed. note: This is part one of a two-part series spotlighting two establishments not even a quarter of a mile apart on Cathell Road that have offered locally-produced goods for years: Country Barn Seafood and the Harvest Grove Garden Market).
BERLIN — Country Barn Seafood, co-owned by Charles “Speedy” Voss, sells quality carryout seafood.
Maryland Blue Crabs are Voss’ specialty, which he promises will be more “hot ‘n’ heavy” and “hard and fat” than the crabs served at more popular venues around town.
The specific blue crab sold at Country Barn Seafood is bigger and sweeter than most crabs served at restaurants in the area, according to Voss, who got his nickname after being born within minutes of reaching the hospital.
Not only is the quality of crabs notable, but also the process in sorting crabs for purchase.
Voss measures the crabs individually and separates them into two piles by size. Crabs deemed large enough are put in the regular pile to be sold by the bushel or dozen, while the smaller crabs are put in a pile to be sold at a discounted price.
“I’m the last person I know of that does that,” said Voss, who claims no one has ever complained about the size of his crabs that were purchased by the dozen. He admits some small crabs may be added to bushels accidentally because of the large quantity of crabs being processed, but it does not happen often.
Surrounded by crabs since he was a little kid, Voss has been a major part of local seafood businesses since the early 1970s.
He has either owned or managed a number of seafood restaurants through his career, including The Crab Bag, City Fish Co. and Supreme Seafood.
After getting tired of the increasing population in Ocean City, Voss settled into the now 80-year-old barn in the late 1980s with Ken Jaworski, who is still a co-owner even though Voss performs all of the labor.
While experiencing financial difficulties in the mid-2000s, Country Barn Seafood was rented out and operated by different families at times, but it is now back to the man who started it all.
“I retired five times and I’m still working,” said Voss, who is helped every day by his nephew, Marty, who began working at the restaurant in 1998 when he was 13.
Little neck clams, jumbo shrimp and prawns, tuna and salmon accompany Voss’ crabs, as well as his crab spice that comes from a recipe that has been in circulation since 1946.
Beer and wine is also available to take home.
In the future, Voss would like to add a raw bar with draft beer and televisions on the wall, but that idea is only in the planning stage.
Country Barn Seafood is open daily each summer from 11 a.m. until dusk. There is no set time of closure, as Voss chooses the closing time depending on how busy the restaurant was that day.
For more information, or to place an order, call 410-641-5164.
Next week, part two of the Cathell Road business feature will highlight the Harvest Grove Garden Market, a produce stand situated on acres of land that sells mostly organic flowers and produce.