Schaefer’s Canal House and Marina is Back . . . and It’s Good!

by Jody Argo Schroath

Few openings have been more anticipated than the new Schaefer’s Canal House on the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal in Chesapeake City North. Ever since that popular stopover closed after Isabel ravaged its docks, gossip about its future has run the gamut of Hooters to . . . well, um, Hooters—people had a lot of trouble getting past that one. Then in 2010, word arrived that the property had been purchased by the Giordano family, longtime restaurateurs from Kennet Square, Pa., and the Hooters idea finally went out of the window for good. Then the wait began. Reports arrived of major rebuilding and renovation, both of the docks and the restaurant. Finally, reports arrived that the new Schaefer’s Canal House was open. A great whoop of joy went up across the upper Bay. But would the new Schaefer’s be better than new . . . would it be good? The early reports were favorable: super-friendly staff at the docks; super-nice staff at the restaurants; good food; great docking facilities. Okay, okay, enough, I cried, I want to go too! 

Perhaps Mother’s Day was not the ideal time to choose for a visit, unless you think far enough ahead to make reservations. When it finally occurred to me and my friends Kathy and Hal Slack to do that, we were told the earliest time we could get in the restaurant was at 8:30 that night. That’s practically past our bedtime. But room at the dock was not a problem that early in the year, so we decided to go anyway. The late-April weather was sunny and warm, the wind sprightly but not obstreperous. It was just right. And so, it turned out, was our visit.

Schaefer’s is laid out directly along the canal, so all a passing boater needs do is turn to face into the current—which is very zippy here—and sidle up to the dock. It’s wise to call the dockmaster on VHF channel 16 or 68 before you line up for a landing, though, because you’ll get advice on the current and whether it might be better to sit out a spell and wait for slack tide. Most of the docking is right in front and just beyond the restaurant and Lighthouse bar and patio. We happened to arrive just minutes after members of the Chesapeake Cruising Club pulled out. But Mark Handley was still there, sitting in the cockpit of his veteran-cruiser Tayana 42. This was his third stopover at the new Schaefer’s, he said. Handley too praised the friendliness of the staff and management, though he bemoaned the lack of shower facilities. There will eventually be showers, dockmaster Tom Cannell told me later.

Speaking of restaurants, here we were without a reservation. We were mulling this over with a friendly Schaefer’s employee on a break, when she pointed to the outdoor patio and said, “No problem, you can walk right in and sit down there. It’s all the same kitchen.” What could be better? We sat in the sunshine, listened to the reggae music playing over the speakers and soon had cold drinks and a perfectly delicious lunch set before us. Ah, this was the life! Is the new Schaefer’s Canal House better than new? Yes, it’s even better than good! 

Schaefer’s Canal House
Chesapeake City North, Md.
Fuel: Gas and diesel
Depth: 25 ft
Pump-out: Yes
Power: 30 and 50 amp
Facilities: No showers or laundry yet

[July 2013 issue]