OCEAN COUNTY has partnered with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) to provide $10 million in grants to small businesses in Ocean County affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are pleased to be able to provide this funding to our businesses here in Ocean County,” said Ocean County Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari. “Our small businesses are truly the heart and soul of our communities. I am hopeful these grants can be of some help to the business owners that have been so negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

“By working with the NJEDA to administer these grants, the process will be business friendly and we will get this money dispersed in a timely manner so it will help during these very challenging times,” Vicari said. “This $10 million in grants is exclusive for Ocean County businesses, in addition to the $45 million in grant money available to all state businesses from the NJEDA.”

The grants are part of Phase 2 of the Authority’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders approved a Memorandum of Agreement entering into the partnership on June 16. 

Ocean County is providing the funds from the money received through the federal CARES Act with the intent that the NJEDA distribute them only to businesses located in Ocean County. Business owners can apply for funding at https://forms.business.nj.gov/grant-2/.  

“Maximizing resources is more critical than ever as we work to support the recovery of COVID-19 impacted businesses in a manner that aligns with Governor Phil Murphy’s efforts toward achieving a stronger and fairer New Jersey economy,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan.  “The addition of the Ocean County funds to the NJEDA’s grant program will help us to get much needed funding to vastly more Ocean County COVID-impacted businesses in a timely and efficient manner.”

The county grant program has been established for businesses and non-profits with fewer than 25 employees to apply for the grant, on a first come, first serve basis. The application is live and available at https://forms.business.nj.gov/grant-2/. Applications are due by June 30.

“The Ocean County business community faces some unique challenges related to tourism and hospitality representing such a high percentage of its economic activity,” said Vicari, who is liaison to tourism and business development. “These businesses were hit earliest and hardest by the pandemic and these grants will help to sustain them as we enter the busy summer season.

“Unlike other areas of the state, many of our businesses rely solely on the summer season so instead of 52 weeks our businesses are looking at 12 weeks,” Vicari said. “Summer tourism businesses also help to employ thousands of people from high school students to our seniors.

“This Board of Freeholders thanks President Trump and the Ocean County Congressional delegation for approving the CARES Act funding and as a result for helping these businesses with grants,” he said.

Eligibility for the grant program was recently expanded to include all types of 501(c) non-profit organizations to apply for funding under the second phase of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program. This includes veterans organizations and membership-based business and industry groups. Only 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), 501(c)(7) organizations were eligible in Phase 1.

The NJEDA launched the first round of the Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program on April 3 with $5 million in NJEDA funds.  This phase provided grants up to $5,000 to a precisely targeted subset of businesses that had been hit particularly hard by the Coronavirus outbreak. Phase 2 of the program provides grants up to $10,000 to a significantly expanded variety of businesses and nonprofits with up to 25 full-time employees, including sole proprietorships and home-based businesses, which were excluded from Phase 1. To ensure equitable access for businesses in economically disadvantaged communities, one-third of Phase 2 funding is reserved for businesses in census tracts that were eligible to be designated as Opportunity Zones.

“I want to encourage our small businesses to take advantage of this opportunity,” Vicari said. “We are working to help our small businesses that have been dramatically impacted financially by closures from the coronavirus.

“Their economic health is the county’s economic health,” Vicari said.

Vicari said tourism is a $5 billion business in Ocean County.

“It’s one of our biggest economic engines and our small businesses play an integral role in its success,” Vicari said.

LBI Region Welcomes Outdoor dining and Indoor Shopping Beginning June 15

Stay at Home Orders are lifted, and Southern Ocean County Chamber Members are welcoming guests by Land & Sea to help ring in Summer 2020

It has been a long spring, but with summer comes the promise of reconnecting and enjoying some time away from home. We have been promoting and anxiously awaiting the arrival of  Summer 2020 and our members are here to welcome all. With restrictions being lifted, and the weather heating up; there will be plenty of excitement the next few weeks.

Starting June 15, outdoor dining will resume with table service at your favorite places. We recommend contacting them to see if reservations are needed. Look for new hours, menu items as well as new procedures for servers and patrons to make everyone feel safe. We have been announcing who has been opening and is reopening through our website www.visitLBiregion.com or on social accounts by using their Fanfare and Now Serving programs. Next Monday also brings reopening of shops  with 50% capacity for inside browsing and buying,  June 22 brings reopening of barber shops, salons and spas as well as pools across the state. Larger outdoor gatherings are also on the horizon with 100 socially distanced people allowed now, and 500 by July 3. Bookings for overnight stays and weekly rentals are catching up with the season, so contact one of our local inns, campgrounds, hotels, or vacation home experts to guarantee your extended stay.  The LBI Region offers plenty of camp options, with programs starting July 6. Find your favorite choice on  the region’s chamber website.

For more information stop by our Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center’s Information Window at 265 W Ninth Street in Ship Bottom will be in service beginning June 15, Please call 609 494 7211, email at [email protected] if you prefer free porch pick up of welcome material and vacation kits.

Play By Play Week Five: Reopening with Fanfare

As Phase 2 begins, we are returning our Fanfare Business Announcement Network back to focusing on business reopening, expanded hours of operation and new business introductions to raise awareness for consumers.
Please help us with updates by

  • Editing your profile in our visitLBiregion.com website.
    Update social media contacts, business hours and other important information – need assistance contact [email protected] or [email protected]
  • Have an announcement that consumers need to know? Whether it is store hours, expanded service, or COVID 19 procedures that you want to share, please email [email protected] so she can schedule you on social and broadcast announcements:
    Business Name

Founded in Family: Panzones Restaurant

A family recipe worth sharing…

If you have ever visited LBI, you are no stranger to Panzone’s Pizza. Whether you go north or south on the island, the iconic restaurants have been serving families, beach goers and locals since 1980. Behind the counters, you will almost always find a member of the Panzone family, continuing the dream of founder Frank Panzone Jr.

Raised in South Jersey, Frank got his start in the restaurant industry as a dishwasher at age 14, quickly realizing restaurant ownership would be his chosen path. During that time, Frank took many day trips to Long Beach Island and saw there was a need to bring great pizza, cheese steaks and hoagies to the shore community. On May 13, 1980 Frank and his wife Joyce opened Panzone’s Pizza in Beach Haven. They converted a small building on the corner of 11th St and the Boulevard from an ice cream store to a pizza shop. Giving the building a coat of bright yellow paint and green trim, they added an outdoor patio and placed picnic tables under their yellow awning. Patrons became accustomed to ordering their food through the friendly takeout window, and made Panzone’s a popular spot for pizzas and huge sandwiches. Customers came at all hours, with the demand for late night food keeping the restaurant open until 3am every night.

Hard work and growing success allowed Panzone’s to expand to the north end of the Island. Just four years after opening their first location, the ribbon was cut at Panzone’s Pizza at 22nd St and Long Beach Blvd. By 1987, Frank Panzone Jr was ready to launch a full service restaurant next to the existing Beach Haven location. The already famous menu grew to add his favorite pasta dishes. The new restaurant, Panzone’s Pizza & Pasta opened for Memorial Day weekend that year. The original location remained and became known as the Slice Shop still serving pizza from the takeout window. In 1998 the Slice Shop was torn down to make way for an expansion to the dining area of Panzone’s Pizza & Pasta. Along the way Frank and his family won numerous awards including NJ Magazine Best of the shore Lobster Roll & Best Pizza, Philly Magazine “best pizza at the shore” 2016, Chowderfest, grand champions in 2007 as well as placing in top 3 numerous years for 23 years straight competing with their red and white chowders.

While they were building their business Frank & Joyce’s family grew as well. Both daughters, Kristin and Jillian have memories of growing up alongside their parents at the restaurant. Kristin graduated University of Delaware with a Fashion Degree and went on to work in NYC. Kristin commuted to NYC for seven years from LBI everyday while still managing to find time to work in the restaurant on weekends in the summer and designing the restaurant merchandise and marketing materials. Jillian graduated Widener University with a degree in Hospitality Management, working in corporate foodservice industry for three years. Jillian married Todd who graduated from Ramapo College with a business degree; who also worked in the restaurant with her family during the busy summer seasons throughout college. In 2012, after Frank passed away from cancer and with the aftermath of Super Storm Sandy, Kristin, Jillian and Todd left their corporate jobs to join Joyce to continue on the legacy that Frank & Joyce Panzone started on Long Beach Island in 1980. The family also picked up Frank’s passion for Chowderfest, with his son in law Todd Elsasser being appointed Chowderfest Coordinator in 2016 and now heading up the event.

To mention Panzone’s, is to mention tradition. One important legacy is Chowderfest, Frank Panzone Jr. served as the chair of this world renowned event from its inception in 1988 to his passing. Under his supervision, it grew to be the largest event held on Long Beach Island, and rivals any food competition on the East Coast. Frank Panzone Jr, also served with distinction as President of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce and as a long standing board of director. This baton has been handed down to his daughter Jillian Panzone Elsasser, who is the current President. The family honors Frank and his battle with cancer by serving on the board of David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation which holds the Frank V Panzone Jr. Cruisin’ for a Cure Motorcycle Run each May. Generations of families have been coming together around Panzone’s delicious meals, pizza and sandwiches. Frank Panzone Jr. followed his dream to Long Beach Island and built a business that his family continues today, making him forever the king of pizza on LBI!

The interview and article credited to Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with their Founded in Family programming.

Founded in Family: Meet The Bakers

Four Generations of Bakers mixing in 50 years of camping tradition to the LBI Region
Little Egg Harbor’s Baker’s Acres Campground is Founded in Family

Reds and Anne Baker loved camping, realizing that is was the most cost effective vacation a family can take. With their five children, they would explore different areas. They belonged to the Levittown Camping Club and rock hunted when vacationing in NY State and PA, and enjoyed the beauty of the shore. But it was a draw to Southern Ocean County where a chance meeting with previous mayor of Barnegat, Elmer Seaman where Reds’ dream of opening his own campground become part of Jersey Shore history. Reds, a WWII veteran, knew he wanted to establish a welcoming, affordable and enjoyable place for families to make their own memories. The Seaman family owned a tract of land in Parkertown (now part of Little Egg Harbor Township) where Elmer’s father was willing to not only sell the land to Bakers, but to hold the note as well. The deal was made with a handshake and to this day the grand opening photo hangs in the Baker’s Acres Store; where Reds, Anne and Elmer are cutting the ribbon together.

The family history also reflects some turbulence with zoning issues, shortly after the campground opened. Anne fought a two year battle with the help of an attorney. It took a considerable amount of time and all their savings, but they won and were able to reopen the campground. The Baker’s had many good years, filled with new camping families and a gradual growth of the business. Reds, who saw his dream become a reality, lost his life while fighting the Bass River State Forest Fire in June 1977. He and three other brave volunteer fire fighters were caught between the back burn and the approaching blaze. Reds was the face of Baker’s Acres and he was missed tremendously. Jack, the current owner, was still a teenager at that time, and took on his father’s responsibilities along with his mother Anne. Jack recognized the big shoes he had to fill. He’s the steward of our old growth forest; a responsibility he’s never taken lightly. A strange silver resulted from that fire. Because of the blaze, my mother’s family was evacuated from Bass River and went to Baker’s Acres to finish up their camping trip. Jack met and fell in love with Maureen whose family was a seasonal campers. In 1981 they married and ran the business alongside Anne. A decade later, Anne was ready to retire; Jack and Maureen purchased the campground. Along with their children Monica, John and Jason, 2018 the family will celebrate 50 years as a multi-generational, family-owned and operated business. Jack taught his children two valuable lessons, first to be a steward of the their old growth forest and second that three sticks bound together are much stronger than individual sticks.

At the core of our business, each of the family has their own role. With Monica Baker-Frazer handling scheduling, store and marketing, John and Jason managing the grounds, outside staff and larger food/entertainment events. Jack oversees everything and reminds the family of their duty as campground owners. Maureen takes care of the book keeping and is still in charge of feeding everyone. There have been many extended family members work with the Bakers throughout the years. Many of cousins grew up with the campground as their first job, supporting them through college or their young adulthood. In-law’s have also added to the success. This included Maureen’s brothers working the grounds, Jack’s sister Gail and her husband Conrad Brenner, helped out a great deal over the years, as well. Of course, the matriarch Anne, ran the campground until she retired in the early nineties where she still continues to live in her retirement house on the edge of the property and recently celebrated her 91 birthday along with the 4th Generation of the camping family Michael, Matthew, Malcolm, John Frank IV and another arriving this spring.

Monica sums up the uniqueness of working within a family business “Work comes with us to every family event and every family event eventually turns to work. Most of our conversations are “shop talk”, even if we don’t intend them to be. The campground has kept my family together. I get to work with my brothers, who are my closest friends.” Along with their parents, over a dozen aunts and uncles, the Baker children also had a great deal of campground seasonal “family”. With appreciation for them all; the Bakers are happy to make everyone happy; and feel that welcoming them back every year and meeting the new additions to their families is one of the best part of owning a campground. Over the past few years, Monica, John, Jason and have taken on a greater deal of the responsibilities; transitioning from kids who helped out, to employees, to managers and now partners. This has opened their eyes to what their parents have had to do for so long. It’s not and never will be a nine to five job. They also embrace change in and around the campground. Technology has impacted their industry, they have seen the dawning of the selfie age and what it’s done to real social gatherings. They take on the challenge to create activities that will engage young campers, while trying to get the adults out of their gorgeous RVs. When they do find an event which everyone has a positive response, they continue to improve the experience each year.

Outside the campground, Little Egg and Tuckerton are a growing tourist destination and the family have a lot of plans to continue to modernize their facilities and to stay ahead of the needs of the campers. With the next generation keeping true to the original motto “Where Friends are Made for Life”, the campground started by Reds 50 years ago will continue to welcome many more families and work hard to make them Happy Campers.

Founded in Family: The Van Dyk Group

Founded in Family Meet the Wyrsch Family from The Van Dyk Group

The technology of a business office may have changed since Richard Van Dyk Agency opened its doors on Long Beach Island in 1946, but with two generations of the Wyrsch family overseeing daily operations, the focus on family taking care of families’ remains constant. The Van Dyk Group is celebrating 71 years as a family owned agency based in Southern Ocean County. With 10 family members working alongside dedicated staff in several locations throughout the region, the future is looking bright.

David Wyrsch Sr. purchased the business in 1994, after working in the agency since 1973.
Wyrsch, former President of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce and Stafford Township Councilman for 11 years believes in giving back to the community. “I think it’s very important that our community has good healthcare, good schools and good churches, so we do a lot of sponsoring of our churches, schools, kids programs, and our hospital.”

David and Janet Wyrsch (The Chief Financial Officer) enjoy working with the next generation bringing fresh ideas, allowing the business to grow, stay informed and adapt where needed. Family includes three sons, David Wyrsch Jr. is the Real Estate Broker and Past President of the Ocean County Board of Realtors, Jeff is in charge of the Personal lines (auto, home, flood insurance) and serves on the State board of Independent Insurance Agents, Dan, head of Commercial Insurance and on the Advisory Council for Selective Insurance Co.; daughters Jo Ann Hahl is over the corporate financial area, and Cynthia Kelley is leading the Information Technology Development. Daughter-in-law Christina Brummer works in the Accounting department, Cynthia’s husband Jim Kelley is the Vacation Rental Manager, and nephew Scott Dougherty is the IT Director. Witnessing the tremendous growth of Ocean County, especially in the last 25 years, we have increased our number of employees and agents in all departments to handle this influx.

Wyrsch Sr finds working within a family business extremely rewarding and enjoys witnessing the younger generation doing such a great job carrying on our tradition. “It’s all about providing services to our clients;” states Wyrsch. “We are with clients in the beginning when they buy their first car to assist with car insurance. When buying a home, we can arrange your mortgage and details of buying the home. We handle car, homeowners, and flood insurance making sure that you are covered for all perils. As for Business, we offer coverage for your business, commercial buildings, commercial autos, liability, group health, life, and workers comp. We also provide payroll operations and human resources with 401 K administration. Last year we launched very successful Private Flood and Homeowners Insurance Products thru Lloyds of London. The Van Dyk group is proud to have a company of experts in each area to ensure your assets are protected”.

The Wyrschs’ and the entire Van Dyk Group Family work every day in living up to their motto of “Hard work, Honest business practices, and Real concern for the welfare of others.” The ideal of extending the care you would expect from dealing with your own family keeps generations of clients close to home.

From Left to Right: David L Wyrsch Sr. and Janet Wyrsch (seated); Cindy Kelley, Jeff Wyrsch, Dan Wyrsch, David Wyrsch Jr., Joann Hahl (standing)

Founded in Family: Taylor Made Cabinets

Taylor Made for Success, Locally Grown Entrepreneur Continues to Build

Want to own your own island? Billboards for Taylor Made Cabinets have been a fixture in Southern Ocean County for decades, just as the man behind the business that bears his name has – Stafford Township Councilman David Taylor

David, or Dave to those who know him, grew up on the beaches of Long Beach Island. He was a Class of 1979 Southern Regional High School graduate who then went on the Johnson & Wales to study to become a chef. After marrying Lynn, working long nights was no longer an option. In search of a better opportunity, he landed at a local cabinet shop. Dave started from the ground up, sweeping floors, to building drawers, to putting hinges on doors, to building cabinets and countertops. The owners of the shop could not successfully keep the doors open. The landlord of the building, E.R. Dunphy, suggested that Dave give it a whirl. He rented him the building, lent him a table saw and Dave set off to start his own cabinet company. The Gulf War put a halt to much of the local construction, and many competitors had difficulty staying in business. Mr Dunphy became instrumental in the success of Taylor Made at this point when he assisted Dave by postponing the mortgage for a year. Dave took side work as a bouncer and worked seven nights a week to keep the money coming in. When construction picked back up, Taylor Made Cabinets was the last company standing and business began to take off again.

During the course of 33 years, this Stafford Township business has grown from a two man shop to a twenty person operation. Taylor reflects “We made it through the recession in 2007-2010, that was rough. I had to lay off my family members; including my brother, sister and sister-in-law. We had to go bare bones but we got through it!” Which seems to be the theme for Taylor Made.

Building a business, raising a family and contributing to the community is what has kept Dave busy. In 2000, he served as President of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. Being a first generation family business is a source of great pride for Mr. Taylor. Taylor Made employs many family members: Dave’s brother, Chris, who is also his business partner, his brother, Bob, his wife, Lynn, and his sister-in-law, Cindy all currently work for the family business. Over the years a lot of family have worked there, brothers, sons, daughters, nephews, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, friends and anyone within the family circle that needed a good job. Once they had an opportunity to move on, it was welcomed with excitement from the team. There have been quite a few who have come back time and time again, it is a family place!

The secret to success is knowing the area you are in! The big push to get houses ready for the summer comes in September since no one wants to be in the midst of construction over the holidays. Taylor Made is built on a solid reputation based on the years of experience of Dave and his staff. “We have something for everyone, from rock bottom to high end- we have something at every price point!” Dave revealed, “You can’t beat our price, quality and service! You may be able to beat one of them but not all three!” In addition to cabinets, countertop and installation, Taylor Made has a fulltime service department. “We probably fix 1-2 drawers a week, broken cabinets, and sell tons of hinges. Even if we didn’t sell it, we fix it!” Dave added. Developing good relationships is the key to success.

Taylor Made Cabinets doesn’t just do kitchens. They do bathroom cabinets, countertops- granite, quartz, cement, laminate; remodels, medical offices, and car dealerships. Mr. Taylor used to pride himself in being the company that built everything but the market has changed. Most people have a budget that doesn’t support the custom kitchen. With the wide range of cabinetry lines, Taylor Made can sell kitchens to any price point. They work hard to stay within the customer’s budget.

If I can leave off with a quote, Taylor reflected “I will do today what other men won’t, so that I can do tomorrow what other men can’t!” “You have to keep working,” Dave further said, “I figure I am going to live to be 85-90, if I retire at 65, what am I going to do with myself? I’m going to be working in some capacity, so I might as well make it count!” Dave’s children and his brother’s children are employed in other work fields-but they have all worked under the roof of Taylor Made. “It is important for our kids to know what hard work is,” Dave said. “I can design kitchens, quickly solve problems, and build anything. No is not an answer. I love my job- as long as I am coming to work, I can make a difference in this community!”

Article written by Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce – Founded in Family Program with interview by John Dunlap, Winter Intern – Syracuse University Class of 2019

Founded in Family: Meet The Farias

Three Generations of Farias, Continue to Share the Dream of Providing the Best Shopping Experience Possible

When Mario Farias purchased a house on Sixth Street in Surf City, he did not realize the impact his children and grandchildren would have on the business community and vacationers for years to come.

Vince and Michele Farias were school teachers in Edgewater Park, spending their summers on LBI. Vince kept busy working as lifeguard and bartender during the time here. While working on the Island, Vince noticed that rental houses did not come with amenities needed for families; and recognized the potential. In 1969 they established Farias Sales & Rentals in Surf City where Vince rented a dirt floor garage from a neighbor of the lifeguard barracks; who had a premonition that if he started a business there and would become successful. The beach and bike shop opened providing rental items for everything people would need for their stay. From umbrellas, chairs, bikes, boogie boards, rafts and surfboards to cribs and cots. During the 1980s Michele brought apparel into the stores. In 1983 the couple purchased Byerly’s Rentals on 28th St. in Ship Bottom, which was renovated in 2008 and is the current location of their Flagship store. Much like the premonition, the business was truly successful adding new products such as surfboards 1993. In 1994 the company purchased Taylor Ave Grill in Beach Haven and renovated to be the newest shop.

Brian Farias and his sister Stacey Farias Jordan have been involved their entire lives working in the family business. Being part of the evolution into a destination retail surf and hard-goods store through building relationships in the surf industry to staying involved on a community level locally. Brian took over the business full time and Stacey as a part time partner in the fall of 2012 from their parents. That year, Superstorm Sandy flooded 6 of 8 properties over four feet of water. In order to save the holiday season, they opened a mainland location that acted as home base for rebuild. The storm redefined connections to old and new friends, as well as reaffirmed the strength of our amazing community and business leaders. Vince and Michele’s granddaughter Sarah Jordan is the women’s buyer for all of the surf shops, and she also runs and manages Five 0 Six Surf Boutique. Ally, Drew and Sydney all work in each of the stores during the summers. Brian’s god-mother Peg Caffrey runs the books and payables in the office.

The Farias’ have witnessed how LBI is ever evolving. “There is a different clientele in every town on the island. From the local residents to the summer residents to weekend warriors. You have to be able to cater to everyone from the core surfer to the weekend beach visitors and everyone in between. We just try to do a better job to provide products that everyone wants in a welcoming atmosphere.” states Brian. In 2016 the company opened the Five 0 Six Surf Boutique and the Centre St. location in Beach Haven as branches of the family business. Keeping up with the customer demand they have expanded our children’s surf clothing offering, by opening our Farias Kids Store across the street from Ship Bottom flag ship store. Brian admits that have a lot of fun running the business as a family, even though retail business can be extremely difficult. “The business has a lot of moving parts and there is never really the ability to leave your work behind at the end of the day. Whether they are at a family dinner or on a vacation it is always the topic of conversation which can cause stress. Ultimately success rests on your shoulders. The level of passion and the commitment to always trying to improve our business are what drives us. What you put into it is exactly what you can expect to get out of it!”

The last 6 years since Super Storm Sandy has really been an experience the Farias Family could have never imagined. “It is one that we hope to never have to do again but at least now we know we can make it through anything.” reflects Brian. As business owners they recognize the investment on the island and how the level of development, service and hospitality have grown to greater levels that they have not witnessed in the previous two decades. With growth, there are hopes that some of the old charm and style remains. With an eye on sustainability, they foresee the community of business leaders growing tighter and stronger as a new generation comes of age in the family run companies. The Farias family could not be happier to be glad to be in this together as the business community looks forward to a bright future.

1st picture: Vince and Michele, and daughters Christy and Stacey on a surrey in front of the first Farias Surf & Sport location

3rd picture: Brian Farias on top of the rubble from our flagship store in Ship Bottom after Sandy

4th picture: Vince Farias and son, Brian Farias in Surf City

5th picture: Three generations of Farias ladies (Michele Farias, Sarah Jordan, Stacey Farias Jordan)

Founded in Family: Meet The Wainwrights


When Brian Wainwright went to Fantasy Island Amusement Park as a kid in the early 1980s, he had no idea that the park would one day become a family business of his own. At the time, he was more focused on the 13-inch television you could get by accumulating a million points in the arcade.

He did know that LBI was someplace special. “Most of my childhood memories are from LBI, whether it was boating on the Barnegat Bay or going to Bay Village or to Fantasy Island,” he says. “It was a great connection for me and my parents.”

The park drew him back as an adult, whether to visit the arcade with his future wife Petrina or to return year after year with their sons Brady, Avery and Austin, who are now ages nine to 14. An Ocean County entrepreneur who built a one-person company into a wireless retailer with 80+ stores and 400+ team members, he began imagining what it would be like to be part of the business community on LBI. “I would daydream on what the park has meant for me and my family and couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to participate in a business like that.”

When LBI’s Florimont, Phillips and Frey families were ready to retire after 33 years as Fantasy Island’s owners, Brian and Petrina knew that they were meant to serve as the park’s next custodians – and in 2018 Fantasy Island kicked off its first season under their care.

On any given summer night, guests to the park can now see at least one of the Wainwright boys at work, often helping General Manager Matt Freed, making cotton candy or running one of the boardwalk games. Petrina spends hours in the token booths, and Brian seems to be everywhere in his role as CEO (that’s Chief Experience Officer!). And grandparents Dave and Sally Wainwright still like to visit.

The 2019 season will bring some enhancements to the park, known for its 18 rides, family arcade, ice cream parlor and boardwalk-style games. This year the park will have two new rides as well as upgrades to the ice cream parlor and bathrooms, and also changes to bring more boardwalk games to the front of the park and make the entrance more open and welcoming.

But more important are the things that will never change, especially the nostalgia and tradition that have kept guests coming back for generations. “As LBI has evolved, it was easy to be concerned that this beautiful piece of real estate could be turned into town homes,” says Brian Wainwright. “We want to preserve the memories that families have made here and make sure that future generations have a place to make their own happy memories.”

Keeping Fantasy Island vibrant means long hours not only for the Wainwrights but for all the park’s team members. That hard work is not without its rewards: the team gets to see every day what their effort means to others. As Brian Wainwright puts it, “When kids come in with big smiles and they’re all excited, it’s all worth it.”

Founded in Family: Meet The Family Behind The Bywatyr Shop

A legacy by the water, second and third generation of The Bywatyr Shop continue the family business 33rd year.
Long Beach Township’s The Bywatyr Shop is Founded in Family

Denise Burr started vacationing to Long Beach Island with her family in 1980. The family atmosphere led her parents to purchase a summer home in Village Harbor, then move permanently to Beach Haven Terrace. The Bywater shop was a well-established dress shop for 30 years, prior to Denise’s parents Thomas and Joanne Quinlan purchasing it in 1985. The Quinlans felt when they brought the shop they would purchase the name as well; since it had a history here and the name was so relevant. Bywatyr is a Welsh name, meaning by the water, which was perfect for an island business. The family opened as a gift shop, as their experience grew they established a collectable market. Through the years they have adapted to the latest consumer demand such as stocking Country furniture, and converting the second floor into Doll Houses and furnishings. They became the exclusive LBI retailer for her brother’s popular manufactured candles and created a candle carving station were customers could watch wedding and lighthouse candles being carved to order. When doll houses dropped in popularity, they converted the space into an Art Gallery, which features local artist whenever possible. They attended framing school, purchased framing equipment and began custom framing. The shop includes computerized matt cutters, framing saws, specialized heat presses, glass cutters and reasonable priced moldings. This has allowed the family to expand the gallery to include framing of customer’s artwork. The shop is also known for the brightly colored furniture surrounds their establishment. When maintenance free “plywood” furniture came on the market the Bywatyr was the first shop on the island to specialize in it. Doing much research they stocked furniture that is the highest quality furniture made with steel that can withstand the salt air.

As the family celebrates 33 years in operation, it looks back on the efforts of Thomas and Joanne who were at the helm for three decades and how it has become a total family enterprise. Denise who assisted during college breaks, summer and holidays; bought the business in 2016 with her husband Bob. They feel fortunate to have the Quinlan’s still involved. Thomas handles all of The Bywatyr Shop’s advertising, and web presence. He also creates the shop’s line of custom coasters and mugs of local establishments. Joanne continues to work in the store several days a week where her 33 years of experience and knowledge of running a retail business is invaluable. Customers of the Bywatyr ask for her on a regular basis. Denise states “Working with family has been a wonderful experience, it allows three generations to see everyone on a regular basis. We are all working together for a common goal and when that goal is accomplished we celebrate together. While the younger generation keeps us up to date with new ideas, our older generation has years of valuable experience we draw from to run a successful business. “When the Burr’s took over the Bywatyr they brought their Embroidery/screen-printing business into the product line. Providing the service in Toms River specializing in sports uniforms, school fundraisers and corporate wear for the past decade, they expanded to a complete line of beach themed original designed t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, bags for LIB sold exclusively at the shop. In addition to her parents, her husband is responsible for making all the picture frames, and as well as screen printing their original designs. Their two sons deliver the furniture in the summer while they are home from college. Joanne’s sister works for at the shop several days a week as well. Denise who oversees all operations of the business, recognizes without her family members her job would be nearly impossible.

Denise reflects on the changes since Super Storm Sandy, the majority of small summer cottages have been replaced by larger homes that can cater to multiple families on vacation. “The high cost of doing business in a short summer season, has caused some commercial businesses to be replaced with new homes. Through the years we have seen a lot of our friends businesses leave the island due to that dynamic. We continue to adapt by looking at what the residents on LBI are in need of and changing what we offer to accommodate their needs.” With the expansion of chain retail establishments into Manahawkin and the internet it became increasingly difficult to survive. They credit their loyal customer base for the shop being able to thrive.

Through all the changes LBI has experienced, Denise still feels the charm that pulled her family to LBI 38 years ago. That small town feel, where it’s safe to let your children play without worry. She reflects on the many customers who share that they remember watching her dad carve candles when they were little and are now buying furniture from us for their new home on the island. The next generation will not remember the Shack when going over the bridge but she will be telling them the stories about seeing the shack and knowing we had arrived on LBI.