Recognized by the Ocean City Historic Preservation Commission, the Varsity Inn building was built in 1905 and served as a Methodist retreat, a one room schoolhouse, and a private residence before becoming the only restaurant in Ocean City that also ranks as a tourist attraction.
After World War II, the Florida Inn was the building's first restaurant. In June 1954, John Housand moved from Florida to Ocean City to open a restaurant with his brother Harry Housand (an OCPD officer) and sister, Venalda Burcham. It began the tradition of being a true family business: their mother, Abbie Nielson, and John's wife, Beatrice, worked in the kitchen and as a server, respectively.
In the 1960s, it was the White Whale Coffee House, a place for locals and visitors to "hang out." In 1969, the Symonds Family purchased the property and the Varsity Inn Restaurant celebrated its first summer in 1970. Over the next 53 years of Symonds' family ownership, many local traditions were celebrated including Aunt Helen's namesake omelette, and service windows that allow all guests to experience the beach breezes from the comfort of our dining room.
Keith and Dawn Symonds owned the Varsity Inn until Keith's retirement in February 2023. The historic building continues to serve many generations of Ocean City locals and visitors through its current owners, the McCarthy family: Chris, Marsha, Chris and Kyla. The McCarthy family is committed to the Varsity Inn's traditions, classic menu...and most certainly Keith's famous Baked Tomato Soup!