Lobsterfest delights all
BRADLEY BEACH — The boardwalk along Ocean Avenue was packed on Saturday as people lined up to eat their weight in seafood during the Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Sixth Annual Lobsterfest.
This year’s event, which took place over Saturday and Sunday, July 12 and 13, boasted over 25 food vendors, 150 craft and specialty tables, programs geared toward the younger crowd, live bands, a wine and beer garden, and a large dining area.
“It was absolutely fantastic,” Bradley Beach Chamber of Commerce Director Barbara Connolly said.
According to Ms. Connolly, the Bradley Beach boardwalk saw around 40,000 people over the weekend who browsed through the vendors and sampled many different types of seafood from a variety of restaurants.
Jason Dychus, owner of Harvest Specialty Catering in New Brunswick, said this is his fourth year participating in the festival.
“It’s fun,” Mr. Dychus said. “We do a few seafood [festivals].”
Mr. Dychus said while Harvest Specialty is primarily a catering company, they do enjoy coming to the area’s top festivals, including the New Jersey Seafood Festival in Belmar and the Atlantic City Seafood Festival in the autumn.
According to Mr. Dychus, business picks up thanks to festivals like Lobsterfest.
“It’s spreading the word and all that good stuff,” Mr. Dychus said.
Harvest Specialty Catering was serving up a variety of seafood for locals and guests to try including seafood empanadas, lobster quesadillas, fried shrimp and french fries, fresh calamari with marinara sauce, and lobster mac and cheese.
Mr. Dychus said, up until two years ago, lobster mac and cheese was not even on the menu; now it is one of their most popular items.
According to Mr. Dychus, the amount of people he sees each year varies depending on weather.
“Sometimes I don’t even see the ocean,” Mr. Dychus said. “I like being by the beach. We have good times here and it’s always a nice crowd.”
Ocean City staple Ike’s Famous Crab Cakes was also in attendance. Owner Frankie Palmieri was manning the grill at his second festival.
Mr. Palmieri has been owned Ike’s for the past two years. Before that, he cooked for the company for 10 years.
“The best part is the hungry people,” Mr. Palmieri said. “That’s the best. We love feeding them.”
At Ike’s, Mr. Palmieri was serving up crab cake sandwiches, soft shell crabs, grouper, shrimp, lobster tails and corn on the cob.
Some other local favorites were also at Lobsterfest, including Jersey Shore BBQ, based in Belmar, and Point Lobster Company, based in Point Pleasant Beach.
Point Lobster Company Retail manager Bob Goessel said this year was the company’s first at Lobsterfest, where they were serving up hot lobster rolls.
“It’s fresh lobster meat in butter served on a Martin’s potato roll,” Mr. Goessel said. “You can’t go wrong.”
Mr. Goessel said he enjoys coming to these festivals. In addition to the New Jersey Seafood Festival, Point Lobster Company also attends the Point Pleasant Seafood Festival.
“If we’re invited, we’ll be back,” Mr. Goessel said.
According to Mr. Goessel, attending festivals like Lobsterfest give the restaurant a jump in business.
“The next week and a half, we’ll have a bunch of new customers asking about the lobster rolls they had at the festival,” Mr. Goessel said. “All summer long we’ll draw new people in. We see new faces every day because of these festivals.”
According to Mr. Goessler, the festival is “awesome,” the weather was great and he expected to see several thousand people over the weekend.
Bradley Beach’s own Giamano’s Restaurant was also in attendance, serving up organic cold lobster rolls.
Owner Steffan Mano said he likes supporting the town and the chamber of commerce.
According to Mr. Mano, Giamano’s helped start Lobsterfest several years ago.
“We’ve been here ever since,” Mr. Mano said.
Other restaurants in attendance included Jake’s Crab Shack, Belmar; Gaetano’s Restaurant, Red Bank; Mr. Shrimp, Belmar; Ragin Cajun, Belmar; Tiger’s Tale Bar & Grill, Princeton; and The Lusty Lobster, Highlands.
In addition to some great food options, there were plenty of activities for children during the festival.
Children were able to play on an inflatable water slide, get their faces painted by professional artists, design their own sand art, jump in bouncy houses, and get a ride on a tilt-a-whirl mechanical ride.
Adults were able to visit the wine and beer garden, where there were a variety of beers and wines available.
Festival goers were also able to enjoy seven different musical artists while they munched on their seafood including the Pat Roddy Band, which made its first appearance at the festival.
“It was just terrific,” Ms. Connolly said. “The weather mostly cooperated, the music was outstanding, the food was spectacular and it looks like people had a very good time.”