We have a pretty broad definition of community.
It includes our generous friends, the families who patronize our restaurants year after year, our hardworking staff, the local fishermen/farmers from whom we source fresh food, and the amazing group of businesses here. All of these play a huge role in the success of our restaurants and it’s only right that we give back.
It was five years ago this month that Superstorm Sandy landed a wet haymaker right on our chin. Many people look to Superstorm Sandy as a very important event in bringing our community together. And it was. But we had already established a local network that was ready to respond when the time came. Today, we are proud to be a part of that community.
“We’re not doing all this alone. We can’t do it on our own. And we take our investment in this area very seriously,” says co-owner Melanie Magaziner, who is constantly hands on in local events and fundraisers. She is not only Troop Leader for two Girl Scout troops, but is on the board of directors for the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean County. She has also served on the board of David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation and the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.
We believe we have a responsibility to be leaders in looking after those in need and also our environment. Not only do the Barnegat Bay, wetlands, Atlantic Ocean and Island provide us with the greatest source of recreation and inspiration, but they are also the engine of our economy.
With Ship Bottom Shellfish and Mud City Crab House, we always had a tie to local happenings, but opening the Black Whale in 2005, the bar enabled more of a social atmosphere. We forged an integral relationship with the surf community and our friends at Jetty, an apparel company at its core, but a local lightning rod of local awareness.
Jetty ran its first Clam Jam in 2007 and Coquina Jam in 2009. One of our eateries has been on the beach for each event in the last decade, serving up cold clams on the half or warm chowder, as well as the Alliance for A Living Ocean Longboard Classic for the past few years. And we love hosting the Team Selection Night at Old Causeway.
In 2010, we also hosted our first Crabbin’ for a Cure with Jetty, a family-style crab cake dinner where we specifically raised money for David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation, who directed the money to families battling cancer in our local area. It’s a tradition we all cherish.
Mud City and Old Causeway took part in an oyster pilot program in 2015 with Stockton University. Today, Parker’s Garage is specifically involved in the Oyster Recycling Program, an alliance of local shellfish restaurants sending our shells to local oyster farmers to create Tuckerton Reef, a recreation of the oyster reefs that were all but wiped out in our local waters. Partnering with the Jetty Rock Foundation, Long Beach Township, Stockton and our local shellfish purveyor Parsons Seafood, we are helping to purify our bay while bringing back the oyster population and the bayman way of life. We hosted the 4th of July Clambake here to raise money for this project. You will actually be able to see those oysters delivered to the dock at Parker’s next summer.
Superstorm Sandy, of course, changed the face of our community forever. But in many ways, we have come back stronger than we were before the storm. Again, we teamed up with Jetty, Waves for Water, Stafford Teachers and Residents Together, and all the good people who were willing to gut homes, raise money, feed our neighbors and clean the bay. Mud City became an important meeting spot and we were happy to provide food for a community Thanksgiving Dinner as well as important fundraisers like, “East Coast Rising” and “Rock for Sandy.”
In 2015, we hopped on board as a supporter of the local mini documentary series, “Just Beneath the Surface,” which spotlights the magic of Long Beach Island and the mainland, packing the house for the premiere of the pilot (we may have been a little partial) in 2016 and episode one last May.
Sandy helped us realize our ability to mobilize and raise funds to make our community stronger. In 2016, we ran the first Eskimo Outreach, our clambake version of a winter carnival designed specifically to aid one of our longtime employees who was struggling with cancer. We used her spirt to continue the tradition last winter and were able to help her family and others close to us. And in September, when hurricanes had ravaged the Southeast US and Caribbean, we payed forward all the support we got by holding a Rum-Raiser outside Parker’s Garage, raising over $20,000 for Waves for Water’s Caribbean Hurricane Relief Initiative.
“If the community’s not strong, our businesses aren’t strong,” adds Melanie Magaziner.