When an opportunity to restore an old favorite arose, owners of A.M. Kitchen, Brendan Roberts and Lou Halkias. happily took it in stride and thus The Kitchen @ 35 brought new life to the 2601 Route 35 South, Manasquan, location and opened its doors to the community on Oct. 3 of this year.
NOSTALGIA AND OPPORTUNITY
Two months later and Roberts shared that it’s been wonderful so far. While Roberts’ passion fueled the opening of the Kitchen @ 35, this project was not in the works for awhile.
“We were at the A.M. Kitchen in Spring Lake and this presented itself and I view the opportunity as a low risk with a high reward, so we decided to go for it and for nostalgic reasons I wanted to see this place restored to its former glory,” shared Roberts. “So that’s why we’re here.”
There is just something about a Jersey diner that people are drawn to and that. mixed with a location that Roberts once frequented and an opportunity for Roberts and Halkias to make it their own with their own spin, resulted in this new establishment.
“Yeah, so an ‘Old Jersey tradition’ with a new twist,” said Roberts. “That’s the Kitchen @ 35.”
For Roberts, the concept derived from the popularity of Jersey diners that one finds among most people. “Well, everyone loves a Jersey diner,” he explained. “In fact, when I was in the Merchant Marine, when we used to work up at the docks, there was actually an old diner that they lifted up. I believe it was from Union, New Jersey, that they disconnected at the base, they lifted it up, put it on a trailer and we actually shipped the entire diner overseas to Germany.”
“Everybody loves a diner, like I said, and we decided to put a new menu into a traditional diner setting with a little bit of extra flair on our menu and the dinners especially.”
The Kitchen @ 35 serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. According to Roberts, instead of having a 70-page menu or the typical lengthy diner menu, they decided to condense the menu and make the items they do have on it very good. He added that people have been raving about the dinners.
“When my children were born, I have a 15 year old and a 12 year old,” said Roberts. “When my children were born, I was at this location when it was The Atlantis Diner, every Saturday and Sunday with very good friends all the time and we all have had our children here in their car seats at one point or the other because this place used to be great.”
“And when I saw that it was available I really thought a. for business reasons, but b. for kind of nostalgic reasons, I want to see this place succeed again for the neighborhood and we’ve already seen families come in with their young ones,” added Roberts. “And I’m hoping to be able to provide a good place for them, a staple, a weekend staple, a Saturday and a Sunday staple, that they can come in at breakfast, lunch, dinner.”
“Actually what we’ve been seeing a lot is our dinner crowds is a lot of families. Kids are still in their cleats from the soccer field or they’re still in their high tops from the basketball court and they’re coming in, they’re having a nice, casual meal at a really affordable price and the food is excellent. And families really seem to be very appreciative of it.”
THE MENU: SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
The Kitchen @ 35 offers two menus; a breakfast and lunch menu and then a lunch/dinner menu. No matter the time of day, breakfast is always on the menu at The Kitchen @ 35. “ … Breakfast is available all day because, just like the A.M. Kitchen, there’s nothing better than pancakes for dinner on a Friday.”
The breakfast menu features kitchen specialty toasts like the Avocado Toast, which is toasted seven-grain topped with a fresh guacamole spread, sliced tomatoes, sliced avocado, EVOO and crushed red pepper flakes. Top off any toast with two eggs cooked to your liking. The breakfast menu also includes a variety of benedicts, breakfast bowls and breakfast sandwiches as well as chef choices, kitchen omelettes and from-the-griddle selections.
“Well, the children go bananas for everything from the griddle, the pancakes, the Volcano French Toast and also what we have included in our menu is a New York Style Deli Section for lunch and dinner,” said Roberts. Mile-high, fresh corned beef, pastrami, store-cooked turkey and we create all the Sloppy Joes, the Reubens, we have the White Russian and it’s just the combination of all the fresh deli meats and the people are going crazy for it. The kids like it, too.”
Roberts didn’t hesitate when sharing his favorite dish. “Corned beef hash, with three eggs over easy, rye toast and a little hot sauce is probably the best breakfast, I think,” he shared. The corned beef hash is homemade in house.
Indulge in a burger, which Roberts thinks is one of the best around. Interested in other can’t- miss menu items? “The pastrami for lunch is nice and lean, it’s delicious and for dinner our saute cook is a magician with a frying pan,” said Roberts. “People have been raving about his Veal Saltimbocca, the Shrimp Fra Diavolo, of course the Chicken Francese, the Chicken Marsala, Chicken Parm, the old staples.”
“It’s really, there’s not 75 choices for dinner, the 15 choices are sold for dinner, but they’re prepared really well,” he added. “And the chicken dishes are wonderful and we have a nice steak on the menu. A Ribeye and a Delmonico and Pork Chops. So we have everything for everyone.”
Other dinner items include seafood, a section of the classics, pasta and saute specials. They also offer one or two dinner specials every weekend for another variance off the menu. “People have been really raving about the saute section and the pasta section,” he said. “We had a young lady in here the other day, she was 16 and she said it was the best Shrimp Scampi she’s ever had.”
The Kitchen @ 35 proudly serves Hoffman’s Ice Cream as well as all breads and desserts from Country Bakery. “The ice cream comes from Point Pleasant Beach,” said Roberts. “The bread comes from Point Pleasant Beach and our desserts … so everything is bought and helping local businesses.”
The restaurant also features fresh brewed, organically grown, ground-on-premises coffee and artisan teas. There’s four TVs for customers to catch their favorite games and the establishment is BYOB so don’t forget to bring your favorite bottle of wine or cold beer. In addition to dining in, The Kitchen @ 35 offers Doordash as well as pickup so customers can enjoy the menu for takeout as well. The establishment is also open for private events.
The Kitchen @ 35 supports all local causes and hosts fundraisers as well.The restaurant recently hosted a pasta party for a local sports team the night before a big game. “We hosted one here the other night and the kids loved it,” he said. “We piled out so much pasta and soda and ice cream and the parents didn’t have to worry about picking up or cleaning up and they all came back and they picked up their kids an hour later so don’t forget to host your next pasta party before the big game here.”
The Kitchen @ 35 keeps it local from staff to customers and distributors. Follow the restaurant on their webpage, Facebook and Instagram because they might be coming up with new, fun ideas, according to Roberts.
“We’re from the community and we want to give to the community and that’s what we’re here for,” shared Roberts.