Close your eyes and think back to the days when there were many food establishments all over Absecon Island serving local and international favorites. Each ethnic group had its own specialities as well as the typical American fare.
A few of the favorite seafood and fish eateries were Captain Starn's, Hackneys, Carsons, and Abe's Oyster House. At Starn's, you'd sit on the bench with the sailfish back while waiting for your table. Afterward was always the boat ride along the island coast. Many a class trip was on that boat. At Carson's, which was along the inlet trolley tracks, one usually ordered the fried shrimp. One person who had never eaten shrimp cleaned his plate. Didn't know you shouldn't! You could always tell who the tourists were who had eaten at Hackney's because they would walk the Boardwalk carrying a Hackneys menu under their arm and sometimes wearing the lobster bib.
If a Corn Beef Special on rye was on your mind you needn't go any further than Kornblau's or Lou's. Their overstuffed sandwiches would make you forget about diets, cholesterol etc. But back then, who even knew about cholesterol?! Of course, if you went to Lou's, you'd almost certainly have to wait in line, but once inside, you would know just about everyone sitting in the booths.
And Italian food?? It was not difficult to find an Italian restaurant in just about any neighborhood from pizza at Tony's Baltimore Grill, even before it moved from the inlet, to homestyle cuisine at Luigi's or the Venice north of Atlantic Avenue. For a more upscale dinner there was Alfred's Villa or the Riptide Room in the Penn Atlantic Hotel. At Rex's the ambiance was enhanced by the owner who sang Italian favorites.
Shumsky's Roumanian Restaurant down the street from Convention Hall served kosher-style homestyle meals, but if one needed true kosher, you could go to many hotels, such as the Breakers, the St. Charles, Pierpont and Majestic as well as a few side-avenue hotels with public dining rooms.
Jem was in midtown and served American-style sandwiches and dinners but was most known for its delicious cheesecake. If you were on the Boardwalk, especially in the early morning hours riding a bike, you had to buy a doughnut at Mammy's while watching them sliding through the fryer, or possibly stop at Childs for a pancakes or waffle
For top-quality steak, there were many great choices. Jack Guischard's, Bishop's, Neptune Inn and Smithville Inn are where you knew the local who who's would be. Of course few went to Zaberer's without imbibing in their famous Zaberized Cocktail.
Everyone had their favorite sub shop, depending where you lived. In Ducktown you went to the White House. On the Northside, you had the Delaware Sub Shop, and in Chelsea it was Super Sub, where every Friday night many of the local high schoolers would gather after their sorority or fraternity meetings. Downbeach, you had Dino's in Margate and the Margate Sub Shop, where the aroma greeted you before you even entered.
Chinese food restaurants were not plentiful, but Chinaland and Dragons Den were favorites. Chinaland was the only one that served chow mein in a brown sauce!
The oldest restaurant was founded in 1896 as a gentlemen's dinner club, and is known today as the Knife and Fork Inn. It originally had two apartments on the upper floors. During prohibition, Nucky Johnson was a frequent guest, and rumors were that the upper floors served as a brothel.
Soul Food could be found at Wash's Inn, Davis Lunch Wagon, and Rex's Sub Shop. Wash's was a family-run tradition, and there is a wonderful film about it shown locally by one of the Washington daughters.
No day would be complete without ice cream. Kerstetters at two locations, Sonnys for waffles and ice cream and Lamberts near the high school were among the favorites.
As the saying goes, memories are made of these.