When Joe McElhinny got close to the bottom of a bowl of cioppino while dining at an Ocean City, Md., restaurant, he didn’t want to tip the bowl.
So, he comically bent his spoon into the shape of a ladle.
“Everybody thought it was hilarious,” the 38-year-old Buffalo, N.Y., native said.
“I was eating this deep bowl, this Italian dish of seafood cooked with tomatoes and wine,” he said, adding that, when he finally fulfilled a longtime goal of opening a restaurant, he named it Joe’s Bent Spoon, after that antic, and settled in the Mason-Dixon Shopping Center, at 38223 Dupont Boulevard in Selbyville — the former location of Murphy’s Bar & Grill.
The restaurant was on track to open late this week, and certainly by Monday, Aug. 2, McElhinny — whom everybody calls Joe Mac — said this week.
He started working in restaurants when he was 13 and went on to study culinary arts at the Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, where he earned an associate’s degree. On the Joe’s Bent Spoon page on Facebook, he wrote, “Unlike magicians who bend spoons with their minds, preparing food for families by Joe Mac is no illusion. Meals at Joe’s Bent Spoon are the real deal. Joe has been in the kitchen creating culinary delights for Ocean City, Md., area residents and guests for the past 20 years. … His dream was to create a family-friendly restaurant with his wife, Stefanie, and their two children.
“Joe and Stefanie believe in supporting local. So, the vegetables used are from area farms and the fish is purchased fresh from the docks.”
Appetizers on the menu include buffalo wings; a half-racks of ribs and coleslaw; basket of fries topped with cheddar-jack cheese, bacon, red onion and aioli; and tuna tartar — marinated sushi-grade tuna over mixed greens topped with a balsamic reduction and garlic aioli.
Among salads are Caesar, house, Cobb and BLT bibb salad.
Cheeseburgers made the list of sandwiches, as well as cheesesteaks and a pizza wrap made with pepperoni sauteed with red onion, ripe tomatoes, bacon and mozzarella cheese and wrapped with Bibb lettuce on a tomato tortilla.
Main courses include steak, ribs, half a roasted chicken, fried fish and pasta primavera.
Children can choose spaghetti and meatballs, hot dog, chicken tenders, macaroni-and-cheese or pizza.
Pizza will also be available for adult meals.
Tiramisu is on the menu for dessert.
Prices range from $11 to $15 for lunch and $22 to $23 for dinner. See www.joesbentspoon.com for more information.
McElhinny is hiring 10 employees and said he promotes a happy work environment.
“I want them to put out a good product with a good attitude. It’s all about hard work.”
“For my customers, I want you to come into a nice, homey environment in downtown Selbyville and enjoy all of our dishes, made with homemade ingredients,” he said.
“I’m not worried at all about the economy or losing business because of the pandemic. I am very confident,” he noted. “And a ton of people are loving the new addition of Joe’s Bent Spoon.”