New Watchfire Sign Key to Successful Reopening of Fisherman’s Inn After Pandemic Closure

Watchfire Signs was selected by the iconic Fisherman’s Inn in Grasonville, Md. to manufacture a digital display as part of a new sign for the 90 year old restaurant. The sign eventually played a large role in the restaurant’s successful reopening following the state’s mandatory COVID-19 shutdown.

Operating since 1930, Fisherman’s Inn is the go-to-place for fresh seafood on the Chesapeake Bay, and is open year-round. The Crab Deck, an outdoor dining area that opened in 1991, along with the adjacent Seafood Market, are open April through October to take advantage of seasonal demand.

Located just off Blue Star Memorial Highway near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, the new Fisherman’s Inn and Crab Deck sign beckons visitors to the area to stop for dinner or pick up the day’s fresh catch at the Seafood Market.

When the pandemic hit in March, Fisherman’s Inn was forced to close and delay the seasonal opening of the Crab Deck. The Crab Deck re-opened first for carry out, then for outdoor dining, in May.

“The Watchfire sign allowed us to change up our messages as we opened in phases,” said Andy Schulz, co-owner of the restaurant with his two brothers. “When it came time to open the Seafood Market and Crab Deck, we cranked up the sign so people knew we were open for carry out, and then we were able to add messages when outdoor dining resumed. Finally, when indoor dining was allowed, we advertised that Fisherman’s Inn was finally open. We couldn’t have picked a better time to have the digital sign. Customers stopped in just because they saw the sign and knew we were open.”

The new landmark sign was designed by Phillips Signs Inc., of Seaford, Del. The sign includes the Fisherman’s Inn and Crab Deck logos above a 5’4” x 10’3” 8mm high-resolution Watchfire LED display. The tight pixel pitch of the sign allows the restaurant to display stunning photos and graphics that showcase the meals and beverages inside.

“We’ve been specifying Watchfire exclusively for 25 years because the signs are reliable and come with excellent support,” said Ben Phillips, president and owner of Phillips Signs.

Schulz looked at a number of sign companies and ideas before awarding the business to Phillips Signs. “I didn’t just want to plunk a message center in an old sign; I was looking for a new design. This was a big investment for us and I wanted it done right,” said Schulz. “We liked Watchfire because we knew the sign would be supported and the warranty is really good.”

In addition to showcasing seasonal fish, Fisherman’s Inn uses the sign to advertise job openings and to promote its inside and outside dining options.


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