Spyro: “I worked on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Every morning, I would commute on the Path Train into the World Trade Center basement, and walk the block to the Exchange and go about my business. One morning, a kid came running in, and said a bomb had just gone off. We kind of blew it off, thinking it was a minor accident. Shortly after that the second plane hit, and we actually felt the impact in our building. Everything changed instantly. When I realized what was happening, I felt my blood go ice cold, and I felt numb. Both towers were on fire, hit by planes. Angela was three months pregnant with our son, who was our first child. And I thought to myself, ‘I am never going to get to see my son.’ It was really an apocalyptic scene, people crying, screaming, dust everywhere. 9/11 was a catalyst for Angela and I to have a simpler life, to get in touch with what really matters… to switch our lives and end up in a more wholesome and more peaceful place.
“At the time Angela’s father had a hobby farm, and as an escape we would come on the weekends and I would saddle up a horse, and just ride. It was kind of a therapeutic experience. We eventually became partners with him, which allowed us to transition from the city life, and start a new life here. We had no idea where it was going when we started it. People thought we were crazy for leaving Wall Street and starting a farming business. Especially with no farming experience.”
Gem’s House of Bagels
So one of the wonderful followers of POTJS tipped me on a certain bagel shop when I announced I was visiting Keansburg for the first time. I am always interested in learning what are some of the favorite spots of shore town locals, so at lunchtime this past Saturday, I went to Gem’s House of Bagels on Main St in Keansburg.
I was met by some of the most genuinely kind, happy, and energetic people a bagel shop could ever hope to have. I felt like I made instant new friends, and I had only met them for 5 minutes. And I didn’t even mention the food.
The Celtic Knot
Siobhan: “Ian and I have been together since I was 19. I grew up in a very Irish family. Ian is very Scottish. My family was unhappy that we eloped. I think they have come around to accepting that I have married a Scotsman. They really wanted me to marry an Irish-Catholic, and have 8 babies. But the way my step-mom put it, at least he’s in the Celtic circle. And that’s why we call our restaurant the ‘Celtic Knot’, tying it all in together.”
The German Butcher
Andrew (far left): “This business first got started in Germany, by our grandfather, Alfred Barsch. When he passed away, my grandmother relocated here in 1969, when she remarried my other grandfather, Curt, and this butcher shop has been here in Lacey for 48 years now.”
Heidi: “We kids started helping out very young. My girlfriends from high school will tell you that I used to get here on Saturdays at 3:00 in the morning to make bread before I went to track practice. Our parents wanted us to learn a good work ethic, which we definitely did, and that work ethic is a strong part of what makes this business thrive.
“I used to live in Santa Cruz, California, and I used to work in a glass studio there, and that was what I loved to do, working with glass. but I had another job in the Silicon Valley, and I eventually got laid off when the bubble hit. I ended up moving back in with my parents with my tail between my legs, and broke. But they were really cool, and they were like, ‘What do you want to do?’ And I told them, ‘I want to start my own business as a glass artist.’
“And they were totally supportive and offered to help in any way that they could. And I just started crying and told them. ‘I am too scared to do this!’ But they told me, ‘We didn’t raise you to be scared.’ So I had some supplies, and I started making some things in their garage. I had better paying job in Pharmaceuticals but I just didn’t feel like I was living my true life.
“When we moved down here from New York City in 2012, it was basically pizza and Chinese food everywhere. I really missed just being able to just go out and get healthy food. I was juicing at home, and my family was only eating the cleanest foods you could find.
“We are social people, but there were not any options for the kind of food we desired when we would eat out. So we decided to do something about that, and that is how Ocean Organics was born, in 2013. It was slow for people to get our concept at first, but the more we evolved, the more we have developed a meaningful connection to the people who come to our three locations in Jackson, Toms River and Seaside Park.”
PJ’s Family Auto Care
A Business and a Marriage – Meant To Be
Joe: “We both come from other marriages and have children from those previous marriages. The first time I met Patty was in 2001, when her car had broken down and was towed to the shop where I was. That was the first time I met her. Then life took its course, and I didn’t see her again for a long time.
“8 years had passed, and I was freshly coming off a divorce. I had custody of my kids, and my oldest daughter said, ‘Dad, it’s time for you to move on with your life.’ She decided to put me on these online dating sites. Patty saw my picture on one of them, and she ‘winked’ at me. When I clicked on it and I saw her picture, her eyes just sucked me in right then and there. And to this day they are as beautiful as the first day I met her. That was it for me. We eventually put the pieces of the puzzle together, and realized we had met before.”
Bridge Ave. Barbershop
Chelsea (Right): “I started cutting women’s hair for a few years, but I was really unsatisfied with it. When I would cut men’s hair, they would tell me, ‘You cut my hair just like my old Italian barber used to, with the scissors over comb.’ No one taught me how to cut hair like that, I just naturally learned that way. Over time I began to naturally build this clientele with men whose hair I was cutting at a unisex shop, and one day it occurred to me that I should work at a barbershop.”
Shain: “Growing up, my dad had hair down to the middle of his back, and he would let me braid it. He then started asking me to cut his hair. At 17, I started going to cosmetology school and loved cutting guys’ hair, so I became a barber.”