Friday Foodstuffs: The BYOB Question in Ocean City

It all comes down to Tuesday’s vote.

There will finally be a resolution to the issue of whether restaurants in Ocean City will be allowed to offer diners the option to bring wine or beer with them. If the vote is ‘no’, then we go back to status quo.

But what if the vote is ‘yes’? What then?

Either way, the best thing that will happen (hopefully) will be the end to all of  the craziness and verbal sparring that has been going on since the whole notion was brought up last year. The question of BYOB in OC has brought up a lot of things, but one thing it has not brought up is the better angels of our nature. You can just read the comments that have been posted on the Facebook pages of the ‘pro’ side and the ‘no’ side to get a good feel of the animosity between the two sides. The ‘pro’ side are selling you on the notion that BYOB will help make the downtown vibrant again, while the ‘no’ side are selling, well, fear: people will be bringing in large quantities of alcohol, allowing BYOB is a gateway to liquor licenses and liquor stores, the family friendly image of Ocean City will be tarnished, etc. And God forbid that a ‘pro’ sider posts on the ‘no’ side’s page…

So where do I stand? Well, I like the BYOB concept. I like having the option to bring a nice bottle of wine or a craft beer to enjoy with my dinner. To this, a ‘no’ person might say…

Why do you need booze when you eat? I don’t understand that concept. Does the meal suck unless you are buzzed?

Do I need booze when I eat? No. Is it nice to have the option to bring a nice wine or beer that will compliment my meal? Yes. Would drinking to get buzzed take away from the meal? Probably. Do I feel the need to get buzzed any time I have alcohol? No. If you see alcohol as simply a means to get drunk, I could understand asking the above questions, but it’s a perspective that makes some bad assumptions.

But the real reason why the BYOB petition came into being was money. Money that was not going to Ocean City restaurants, but was going over the bridge to out of town restaurants that either served alcohol or was BYOB. Combine that with the fact that shore town populations are shrinking, it can make the offseason a tough time for eateries in Ocean City that try to stay open year-round. To this, a ‘no’ person might say…

Those who own a business in town knew that it was a dry town.

To which I’m reminded of a classic movie line: “Jane, they bought their tickets. They knew what they were getting into. I say: let ’em crash.”

Not to just pick on the ‘no’ folks, I do think the ‘pro’ folks are painting too rosy a picture. Going BYOB removes a barrier, but that in and of itself won’t make a vibrant downtown. Great restaurants do. If you’re going to cite Collingswood as an example, keep in mind that Collingswood has a collection of excellent restaurants. Heck, I’d drink lukewarm tap water with my meal at West Side Gravy.

I would like to see Ocean City go BYOB, but I don’t have a vote in this election. But I will be curious to see how the vote goes. And then, I will be interested to see how the fallout/fence mending proceeds based on the outcome. Will the wounds be healed? Let’s see what one ‘no’ er has to say about the ‘pro’ folks…

Closed mind. Don’t care. Take it elsewhere.

Well there you are.


Restaurant News

Had the great opportunity to join in the festivities last week down in Atlantic City at the Golden Nugget grand opening. It was fun to see the finished product, and I must say that the makeover looks great. In comparison to Revel, Golden Nugget is a much smaller affair – but good things can come in small packages, right? After all of the hoopla, I took a walk around to check out the restaurants. While the recent trend in the casinos has been to bring in outside companies to run the restaurants, Golden Nugget’s eateries are all in-house – which makes sense since Landry’s (the owners of Golden Nugget) own quite a number of restaurant chains. I am most intrigued by the steakhouse Vic & Anthony’s, which is very highly regarded, as well as Lillie’s Noodles, Asian Cuisine and Sushi with its funky sleek black and red neon motif. Looking forward to trying them in the future.

County Seat Diner in Woodbury opened this week.

Gables Restaurant on LBI is still shooting for a Memorial Day Weekend opening, despite the recent fire.

Sadly, Debra’s Key West Cafe in Port Republic announced on their Facebook page that they will not be reopening for this year.

Due to licensing issues, Pic-A-Lilli Pub in Atlantic City was shut down on Thursday – but hoped to open by today.

Bahama Breeze is coming to the Ocean County Mall. Will it fare better than Benihana and El Chico?

And coming back again this June: Le Bec-Fin in Philly.

The Farmers’ Market Report

Robin has updated her list of farmers’ markets that are opening this month. Sorry Ocean County – gotta wait a little longer.

Hunter’s Farm and Market in Cinnaminson opens today. The Hunter family has been running a farm at that location since 1760. That is not a typo.

Blogging Out Hunger

At the Moorestown Library, every Friday is Food for Fines Friday.

The Lower Township Rescue Squad is looking for donations for the food pantry housed in their building.

And in the news this week…

The big happy news this week was that as of May 1st, direct shipping for wines went into effect in New Jersey. Yay!

The liquor license ordinance in Moorestown is facing a legal challenge.

Rita’s Italian Ice will soon be available in India and China.

And Maria’s Mom’s Italian Cookie Cupboard in Marlton gets a nice little job: baking cookies for the Sports Emmy Awards.

Have a great weekend!


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