Although Bob and Maria Boyer are originally from Sewell in Washington Township, they now work in Ocean City and live right above the business they own.
Bob worked in corporate America for 35 years and then helped Maria run their first restaurant in Ocean City called Tory’s Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant for nine years. They ended up selling Tory’s and have been looking around for their next project.
When they heard about the iconic Chatterbox going up for sale, Boyer wrote a letter to former owner Marie Repici introducing herself, giving a little bit of her background and asking if Repici would agree to meet her and her husband.
Boyer went on to talk about the Ocean City business they owned in the past and how sad they were when the place was torn down by the next owner, replacing the business with condominiums. Boyer said they didn’t want to see that happen to The Chatterbox.
Repici, who already had several people interested in the property, chose the Boyers because they wanted to continue the tradition and not change it into anything that it wasn’t. Their plan was to bring it to the next level.
After running The Chatterbox for 42 years, Repici had found just the right couple to pass along the baton of simple and good family food and fun.
With Hurricane Sandy here and gone, the Repicis had already renovated the entire downstairs. The Boyers only had to rearrange the kitchen, making it more efficient for their new menu.
Composed of booths and free-standing tables and chairs, the counter — which seats around a dozen customers — may be the most popular spot of all.
“For breakfast, it’s a great place for small groups to sit and read the paper, enjoy coffee and to watch television,” Boyer says. “The kids love it for dessert and ice cream at night. We still have the original mural which hangs in the back dining room.”
Boyer says they wanted to streamline the menu and introduce some newer menu items without taking away any of the old favorites.
The breakfast menu at The Chatterbox is served 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. Along with eggs, home fries, toast and breakfast meats such as ham, bacon, sausage, Canadian bacon, pork roll or scrapple, you can also order three-egg omelets or a classic eggs Benedict.
Steak and eggs ($19.99) is made from two hand-cut filet medallions, eggs your way, home fries and toast. Buttermilk pancakes, Texas french toast and Belgian waffles are also on the menu.
Long famous for soups and chowders, The Chatterbox’s kitchen continues the tradition of making them all from scratch. New to the menu is Chatterbox seafood chowder ($4.75 cup, $5.99 bowl), developed by Chef Arthur Van Der Pool, III, using lump crab meat, shrimp and salmon. Van Der Pool describes the soup as bring more like a bisque, thicker than a regular cream soup.
“It’s been going out the door by the quart,” Boyer says.
French onion soup ($3.75, $4.75) and a soup of the day ($3.75, $4.75) are also available.
Appetizer choices include old favorites such as the sampler ($10.99), which gives you the chance to try the breaded chicken tenders, mozzarella sticks and the buffalo wings with three different sauces. New items include an eggplant rollatini ($7.99), made from slices of eggplant stuffed with ricotta cheese, lightly breaded and fried, then served with a homemade marinara sauce; and bruschetta ($5.99), a tomato and garlic mixture served on toasted bread with a few other secret ingredients.
“He doesn’t tell me what it is,” Boyer says. “He keeps a lot of secrets.”
Also popular is the Ahi tuna filet ($11.99), which comes in fresh, then seared with black and white sesame seeds and served with a sweet soy demi glaze and wasabi.
The Chatterbox offers a selection of sandwiches and wraps, with several “club” sandwiches ($7.99) and assorted wraps ($7.99 to $8.99). A Healthy Salads section includes five signature salads with homemade dressings. The “new” shrimp and spinach ($12.99) features a light balsamic vinaigrette and the “New” Chatterbox Oriental salad ($12.99) has a toasted sesame dressing. Also on the menu are a classic Caesar ($8.99), roasted corn and black bean salad ($12.99) and the “New” buffalo chicken ($12.99)along with the “New” moniker alerting customers to a dish they may not have seen on the previous menu.
Burgers are all 8-ounce, Angus beef, served on a brioche bun with fries and a pickle and cooked to order. Hot and grilled sandwiches include selections such as corned beef or turkey reuben ($8.99) to BBQ pulled pork ($8.49) and include two “new” items: Nana’s homemade meatball sub ($8.99) and a homemade crab cake sandwich ($10.99).
All the crab cakes and deviled crabs are made from scratch using jumbo lump crab meat with a very light breading on the outside.
Dinner entrees begin at 4 p.m. and include soup or salad, fresh baked breads and a choice of two sides. Among the most popular items are the breaded flounder fillets ($15.99), homemade lump crab cakes ($21.99) and the salmon fillet ($18.99) marinated and baked with a sweet ginger dressing and fresh pineapple.
For the meat eaters in your family, “new” BBQ short ribs ($16.99) and “new” chicken Roma ($17.99) have been added to the standards.
“We also brought in filet mignon ($19.99), three 3-ounce medallions for a portion, broken down and portioned out in the kitchen,” Boyer says.
Among available dinner side dishes is another recipe created by the new chef — broccoli slaw, an alternative to cole slaw. The slaw is not spicy but has a little kick to it, courtesy of something he makes called “cusabi.”
“I enjoy cooking and I love making people happy by creating,” Van Der Pool says.
With their previous business having been an ice cream parlor, it will come as no surprise that the dessert menu features hand-dipped ice cream in various forms from sundaes to sandwiches to belly busters and banana splits.
Van Der Pool is the veteran of several upscale rooms at various Atlantic City casinos including the Brighton Steakhouse at the former Sands Casino-Hotel. Also having worked as the chef at Tory’s for eight years previously for the Boyers, they knew the self-described workaholic was the right man for the job.
“We would have never done this without him,” Boyer says.