The building that now houses Buckalew's has been in Beach Haven for more than a century. As many old buildings do, the structure outlives generations and holds its own special history.
"It has been a labor of love," Jay Cranmer, owner of Buckalew's since 1995, says of being a part of its history.
Having grown up in Beach Haven, Cranmer remembers the building since he was a child and in time, he became one of its biggest fans.
"I became a frequent customer, once I was of legal age of course," Cranmer remembered. "Tom (Buckalew) made the best pizza I ever had."
Buckalew's still is famous for its tomato pizzas and all are reasonably priced, with the most expensive just $16 including four toppings of your choice.
"It was such great pizza, our goal was to replicate it," Cranmer says.
Built as the Bayview House, the old building originally offered a cheap night's stay to fishermen, who paid just $1 for a cot. Through the years, the building changed hands and eventually morphed into an eatery in the 1920's.
The Buckalew family took ownership in 1949, giving it the now famous name. Cranmer bought the building at the urging of one of his close friends and hasn't looked back.
"A friend of mine said, 'You love to cook and you are a hometown boy,'" Cranmer says of his purchase.
Buckalew's reopened its doors in summer 1996, and has been throwing pies and serving drinks ever since.
A steady, friendly staff has been one of Buckalew's keys to success. Allan Menegus, whose credentials include a culinary degree from The Restaurant School in Philadelphia and a decade of cooking at the former Trump Marina, has been the general manager and chef at Buckalew's for 12 years. Carmen Mack has been tending bar at Buckalew's for 17 years.
"Everyone knows Carmen," Menegus says. "I have been out of the state and people who have been here ask me, 'Do you know Carmen?'"
In his kitchen, Menegus uses fresh, local ingredients.
"In the winter we can get scallops and monkfish from Barneget Light, in the summer mahi-mahi, tuna and fresh, Jersey vegetables."
During the cold months, menu offerings lean toward classic comfort foods.
"We have lobster pot pie, we make a great chilli and on Friday and Saturday nights we serve prime rib," Mack says of some winter options.
At Buckalew's, classic doesn't mean old or outdated. A vegetarian and vegan menu introduced last year proved a hit. The gluten-free, vegetable pizza topped with a balsamic glaze is a new element on the Buckalew's menu.
"It's actually really, really good," Assistant manager Lisa Mack says of the pizza, dismissing the idea that gluten-free equals sub-par.
Whether it is dinner with the family or late-night drinks while on vacation, Buckalew's is part of the Long Beach Island experience, a place where people come to share great food and create memories, Menegus says.
"We are very 'Cheers-like' in the winter," Lisa Mack says. "We recognize everyone."