What’s New Downtown: The RockSalt Grille

The Rock Salt Grille. Photo by Jullienne Kay.

Harry’s is out and the RockSalt Grille is in. This oyster bar is officially moving into Westminster, becoming  an unusual—but exciting—addition to town.

The RockSalt Grille sign above the door boasts the state flag design under its name, embodying the pride that Maryland citizens have for their home. This feeling of individuality doesn’t stop there either. Owner Lee Nardyz has and will continue to add Maryland themed art throughout the restaurant.

Lee Nardyz and his wife Susan Nardyz are very hands-on owners; Lee Nardyz works on the appliances in the kitchen and Susan runs errands for the restaurant.

This couple is making this restaurant their own. They’ve added art work, a center bar, a fireplace, plenty of TVs, Edison bulbs for mood lighting, a conference room in the rear of the restaurant, and will soon be adding a deck out back that will be open during spring and fall.

Inside the Rock Salt Grille. Photo by Jullienne Kay.

Inside the RockSalt Grille. Photo by Jullienne Kay.

When asked what RockSalt is about, Lee Nardyz said, “It’s an authentic Maryland restaurant, that’s what it is. Maryland food, cuisine indigenous to the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean.” This is exactly why their food is so fresh. “It’s caught the day before and we’re serving it the next day.”

The couple remarked that through their travels, they couldn’t find a restaurant that made seafood quite like it is in Maryland. This inspired them to create the RockSalt Grille.

Their menu will have some of Maryland’s favorites: an 8 oz. jumbo lump crab cake, four to five different types of fish and oysters (depending on the season) and Eastern Shore fried chicken. Susan also mentioned that they’ll be switching up the menu often to keep things exciting.

Although not currently open, the restaurant participated in Westminster’s Oyster Stroll, an event that raises awareness about the importance of oysters and their effects on the ecosystem, specifically the Chesapeake Bay area.

Lee Nardyz noted that RockSalt Grille will be saving their oyster shells and putting them back into the Chesapeake Bay to help rejuvenate the ecosystem. Their eco-friendly mindset is in all aspects of the raw bar.

“Sustainability, a green kitchen, recycling; we’re about all that.” Lee Nardyz hopes to eventually get certified as a green kitchen and continue to make the restaurant even more eco-friendly as time goes on.

Overall, Lee Nardyz’s goals for the oyster bar are simple. “Our mantra is good value, comfortable atmosphere and good quality food and service.”

The property owner, Harry Sirinakis, discussed how this change was what he considered a good business opportunity not only for him, but for downtown Westminster as well. He remarked that there hasn’t really been a seafood restaurant in town for many years.

Owners Lee Nardyz and wife Susan. Photo by Jullienne Kay.

Owners Lee Nardyz and wife Susan. Photo by Jullienne Kay.

The couple has over 30 years of experience and have owned many restaurants. RockSalt is their newest project. They plan on expanding to at least two more areas, including one location in South Carolina.

Lee Nardyz mentioned plans to contribute to teams at McDaniel and around Carroll County, just as they did when they opened Time Outs Sports Grill before selling the business in 2008.

The oyster bar seems like a promising spot for McDaniel students in the space where Harry’s once was. It is closer to campus than most restaurants on Main Street. When asked how the restaurant will fit into the dynamic in downtown, Susan Nardyz said she could see RockSalt being the place where people start their night and then move on to their usual nighttime spots.

We’ll have to wait for their grand opening in mid-November to see if the RockSalt Grille is going to fit in well with Down Under, McDaniel’s unofficial bar, but the Nardyzes say they’re prepared and excited to welcome McDaniel students.