Upon entering Charlie’s of Bay Head one is struck by both the intrinsic beauty of the interior as well as the history of the iconic businesses that once stood in the same location whose images are displayed on the walls.
WELCOME TO CHARLIE’S OF BAY HEAD
Charlie’s of Bay Head overlooks Twilight Lake from its vantage point at 72 Bridge Ave. The same location where The Lorraine Theatre was opened in 1918, followed by Shoppers Wharf. According to General Manager Mark Bernard, originally the owners, who have photos of both The Lorraine Theatre and Shoppers Wharf adorning the walls of Charlie’s, wanted to rebuild Shoppers Wharf with small shops, a cafe and everything in one location.
“The liquor license in town became available so they decided that they were going to purchase the liquor license and then just build a single restaurant for the area,” explained Bernard.
Thus, Charlie’s of Bay Head was born. The waterfront restaurant is open seven days a week all year round. Dinners are served daily and lunch is offered throughout the year, Wednesday through Sunday and during the summer season on Mondays as well.
In addition to lunches and dinners, the location has also become extremely popular for showers, private parties, small weddings and more.
DRINKS AND DINING
The bar menu is comprised of about a dozen signature cocktails as well as 30 wines by the glass between red, white, sparkling and rose.
“We change the menu, the wine menu doesn’t change as much, but the drink menu changes, the cocktail menu changes at least twice a year,” said Bernard. “And then special events we’ll do special menus. For Easter we had a lot of bellinis and mimosas and things like that and plays on those.”
Some of the changes are made seasonally in order to utilize the flavors and fresh ingredients of the month. Right now, botanical vodkas are being incorporated, shared Bernard.
“We’re always coming up with different drinks and new ideas and using new products,” he said. … We’re always changing things up seasonally.”
According to Bernard, in the fall and winter months they presented an Apple Cider Sangria to the cocktail menu. Now that summer is coming that sangria has shifted to a Rose Sangria with fruit.
Guests have the option to dine at the bar area or in the dining room with no exclusions to the menu at either. “We have people that have probably been here 50 to 75 times and they’ve never eaten in the dining room,” said Bernard. So we have a lot of people who like to sit at the high tops here or just sit at the bar.”
While there is no separate menu for the bar or dining room, there is a separate menu for lunch and dinner. According to Bernard, the lunch menu has a little bit more sandwich and lunch-oriented items, but entrees and some of the dishes on the dinner menu are also highlighted on the lunch menu.
“It’s mostly contemporary American, what we do,” explained Bernard. “We have a lot of seafood on the menu. We have steaks. It’s a full range of things and we change those up also seasonally. So we change the menu at least twice a year.”
BEHIND THE CHEFS AND FACILITY
For Bernard his favorite dish changes, but it will definitely include some type of scallops. “I like the incarnations of the scallop dishes that we’ve had,” he shared. “I’m a big scallop fan and right now we have one, but it’s changing. We have one with lobster pieces and a riesling cream risotto.”
Seafood is also ever popular with Charlie’s clientele. “I think halibut is probably our biggest seller,” said Bernard. “Whatever we change it into it’s always the biggest seller.”
Behind the delectable dishes stands Chef Stephen Johnson who has been with Charlie’s since the beginning. Angela Goblesky is the pastry chef and has also been at Charlie’s since its inception.
Bernard shares that a lot of the staff has been with Charlie’s since the beginning, including himself and his events coordinator, Jennifer Hawkins, as well as some of the other managers and kitchen crew.
“The owners really care about their staff,” said Bernard. “They’re very generous to the staff and good people to work for.”
It’s easy to see the care that gets poured into Charlie’s from the food to the facility and everything in between. “The owners, and also myself, we try to keep the facility looking like the first day we opened,“ he explained. “As you see, we have fresh flowers brought two, three times a week that we do here. We try to do things for guest experience.”
The guest experience is always at the forefront as Charlie’s of Bay Head was truly constructed for the community.
“The people who own the restaurant, they live in town,” said Bernard. “They built the restaurant for the town, for the area. To have a nice place to come and a place to come. There’s actually a crew that works here full time that upkeeps the restaurant.”