OCEAN CITY – Bayside Skillet rang in its 40th anniversary last week with a festive celebration.
Last Wednesday, patrons and faithful fans had their chance to join those at Bayside Skillet in a day-long party to commemorate 40 years of business.
Throughout the day, customers had the opportunity to win gift cards, t-shirts, mugs and more and one special winner walked away with a free breakfast once a year for the next 40 years.
Sid Zweigbaum, co-owner of Bayside Skillet, said this was the first anniversary he and his family have celebrated since his mother, Rebecca Zweigbaum, opened the restaurant alongside two business partners on July 5, 1977.
Zweigbaum explained that the milestone anniversary is a bittersweet occasion for many of the employees and community members who have worked and ate at the establishment over the years. For example, he said Jim Mattingly has served as Bayside Skillet’s general manager since 1980 and one employee has worked at the restaurant since 1987. That employee has since had three daughters join the Bayside Skillet team.
“It makes everyone feel old,” he said.
Though much of the surrounding landscape and some of the building’s features have changed, Zweigbaum said much of the restaurant’s atmosphere and foods have not.
“It’s sticking to an idea and just going with it,” he said. “Places that have stuck around stick with what they believe in.”
In addition to its signature pink color, Zweigbaum said the restaurant continues to offer an assortment of crepes, omelets, freshly squeezed citrus juices and locally grown fruits, a farm-to-table approach that Bayside Skillet had from the beginning.
Though the restaurant is owned by his parents, Peter and Rebecca Zweigbaum, Sid Zweigbaum said it was his mother, her first husband and his brother who opened the Bayside Skillet in 1977.
After selling other businesses in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., Zweigbaum said the trio placed all of their money into building an establishment on the vacant 77th Street property. After taking a trip to Europ
e, Zweigbaum said they were inspired to open up a crepe and omelet restaurant.
“It was a pretty bold move in 1977 to open a breakfast restaurant that didn’t serve pancakes, waffles and toast,” he said.
Bayside Skillet’s unconventional approached ultimately paid off, he said, and the business has grown ever since. The restaurant, which held 125 people in the beginning, now seats 385. Zweigbaum estimates 165,000 guests ate at the establishment last year alone.
Zweigbaum said locals and visitors alike continue to drive miles and miles for Bayside Skillet’s Banana Royale crepes, Strawberry Blintz omelets and their homemade salsa verde, among other popular items.
Five years ago, Zweigbaum said they started adding more creative options to the menu and have slowly replaced some of the least popular foods one item at a time.
“We’ve removed things that stayed for 35 years,” he said.
This year, he said Bayside Skillet is introducing a Dirty Banana Royale, a crepe dish topped with bananas and strawberries and drizzled with melted chocolate. This dish, he said, is a twist on the original Banana Royale.
“I’m ordering double the amount of bananas because of that dish,” he said.
While some of its menu items have changed, Zweigbaum said Bayside Skillet’s service has not. He added that the restaurant’s hospitality is a large component to its long-running success.
“We think the food is fantastic,” he said. “If everybody is quick, efficient and pleasant, the rest takes cares of itself.”