Some say what happens in Sea Isle City, stays in Sea Isle City. Not a bad thing, especially for South Jersey diners, when two local boys make good and decide to open a restaurant in their own hometown.
Ron Leider and Brian Tyszka, both 28, are childhood friends, born and raised in Sea Isle City, and the proud new owners of Mako's American Grille.
After attending high school together, the two friends moved to Florida for five years, where Leider worked as an executive chef while Tyszka went to the University of Tampa, graduating with a business degree. Their experiences served them well.
Leider's family had businesses when he was a kid.
"I kind of grew up in it," says Leider, who has been working since he was young.
Tyszka had no restaurant experience, but with his business skills, they each had something to bring to the table when they started a catering business called Mobile Chef.
"We cater to people's needs," Tyszka says.
The partners talk to their customers to see what kind of party they are having, how many people they will need.
They then give them some ideas on what they think would be good, and with ideas from their customers, create the final menu.
The catering business, in addition to what they do at Mako's, utilizes the resources they have at the restaurant.
Their catering company only whet their appetites for the next big step.
"We've been looking at this spot for four or five years," Leider says.
Although they had checked out other properties, the stucco and red brick property that formerly housed BBQ Willie's was the one they really wanted, and this season it became available.
"We made it happen," says Leider.
The partners are planning on keeping Mako's American Grille open all year round.
"Basically, we are breakfast, lunch and dinner," Leider says. "We both grew up in Sea Isle, so we knew there was a lack of a unique restaurant here in town."
Many of the restaurants are Italian, pizza, cheesesteak places, with nothing really unique on the island.
"We wanted to offer a different aspect on food," Leider says. "Nothing too crazy, but with a little twist on everything."
What they have created together is Mako's American Grille, which Leider describes as, "A little bit out of the ordinary but not over the top."
Breakfast is served until noon, including specialties such as crab Florentine Benedict ($11) made with poached eggs, lump crabmeat, spinach and Hollandaise sauce. Cannoli-stuffed blueberry pancakes ($9) are made with cannoli cream, blueberries, crushed cannoli shells and whipped cream.
Omelet choices include Picasso ($9) composed of goat cheese, spinach, egg whites and roasted red peppers; meat lovers ($9) with bacon, ham, sausage and cheese; South of the border ($9) with salsa, avocado and cheddar cheese; Ocean ($11) with lump crab, spinach and Hollandaise; veggie lovers ($9) with spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms and roasted peppers; or a create-your-own omelet ($9) where you can pick any three ingredients on the menu that you think go together best.
A section called combos has several dishes for the serious breakfast afficionado. Doubler ($10) includes two pancakes, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage and two scrambled eggs; Big Daddy ($12) is a combination of any omelet on the menu and a Belgian waffle with your choice of topping; Texas Combo ($10) with two pieces of French toast, two eggs any style, two pieces of sausage and two pieces of bacon.
Short stacks with toppings ($5); all-you-can-eat pancakes ($8); French toast ($7); and Belgian waffles ($7) are all available, along with breakfast sandwiches made with eggs, meat and cheese; the Sensi sandwich ($7) made with fried egg, avocado, goat cheese and chipotle mayo on wheat toast; or America's sandwich ($7), made with pork roll, fried egg, cheese and Hollandaise sauce on Texas toast.
Also available are breakfast eggs made to order with a choice of breakfast meats.
Mako's lunch and dinner overlaps with some of the choices.
Sandwichesmake up a large section of the menu and are served until 4 p.m.
Choices include a Mako sandwich ($11) made blackened or grilled with a mango chutney, lettuce and tomato on a Kaiser roll. The popular fish tacos ($10) have grilled fish with a cucumber sauce, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sriracha and salsa on a soft flour tortilla.
A selection of burgers ($9) with assorted toppings, a Greek chicken gyro ($9), a turkey panini BLT ($9) and a veggie sub ($8) rounds out the sandwich menu.
Salads include one with fresh spinach ($9), strawberries, blueberries, walnuts and goat cheese or a Cali Cobb salad ($9) with baby greens, bacon, avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes and blue cheese crumbles.
At Mako's, you can add chicken ($3), shrimp or fish ($4) to any salad for an additional charge.
The entree list offers something for every hungry diner.
"Our signature dish would be our blackened Mako entree," Leider says.
Freshly caught off of the Jersey shore, glazed with a mango chutney and topped with a crisp apple and onion salad, the blackened Mako ($20) can't be beat. The blackening spice gives the Mako a little kick, and the chutney and salad helps to cool down the palate before the next bite.
Other popular dishes include the jumbo crab stuffed tilapia ($24), topped with a creamy lobster sauce, and filled with their crab cake mixture, minus the bread crumbs on the outside.
"Our dishes come with local-grown sauteed zucchini and squash," Tyszka says.
The kitchen likes to utilize local produce in season.
For Leider and Tyszka, Mako's is the perfect beach restaurant, situated one block from the shore. With outside tables and chairs and a wall-mounted salt water fish tank inside, Mako's American Grille is the perfect place to enjoy the shore and some of our local denizens.