Business And Marriage Still Going Strong After All These Years
By Kathleen Artiglier
What a special year for the owners of The After Char-Broil and Ice Cream in Flanders. Not only are John and Rosalie Davis celebrating 60 years of marriage, but they are also breaking out the confetti for opening the restaurant 48 years ago! It is happily ever After, one could say.
It was a pleasure to meet with their daughter, Gina, who showed off the restaurant and shared some fascinating photos of days gone by. She has stayed working in the family owned business even though she is a dental hygienist by trade. She loves meeting new people and talking with loyal customers, so her niche has been in hospitality. Her father, John is still involved and also takes care of her mother as well on a daily basis. Gina’s brothers Danny and Johnny moved on to their careers in electric and painting after working in their early years with the family. Gina works alongside her husband Jim Grohowski, who also manages and cooks. They make an awesome duo taking care of business, as well as family.
The After is a landmark along Route 206. For those who visited, they were sure to be back. Customers can enjoy fresh food on a daily basis. Nothing is frozen, except of course the ice cream! Forget about microwaved burgers. Cooks are in the back customizing orders as they are placed. It’s nice to see people who still care about quality versus how to get the food out in less than a minute. They don’t have pre-made, so customers can enjoy the food knowing it’s freshly made. That is why they have such a loyal following. They also have loyal employees, some of which have been there for more than 40 years. Jay Hicks, Robin Wenzel and Joe Butrymowicz are stellar examples of how good a company they are to work for. Everyone should be so lucky as to have long term employees that grow with the business from the beginning.
John Davis started the business with $100. Yes, that is not a type. From the inception to the building took about a year, according to him. He shared some history on how he loved watching kids at the shore in places like Seaside off the beach enjoying food like burgers and hot dogs. He had some people tell him that it wasn’t going to work. Really? Here he is 48 years later and an institution in the area. He designed and built it and this has been the only location ever of the restaurant/ice cream parlor. With a wife and three children, they soon made it a family affair. Rosalie and John just celebrated a whopping 60 years together. What a wonderful time for their family to celebrate the love of their parents and also the business. This year is their year.
The business has seen a lot of changes in the way people come out to eat. Everything from restaurant chains to traffic patterns to instant gratification of people wanting food right away have all played into how things have ramped up.
“Mom and pop” businesses can’t go by the wayside. Places like this that have an extensive menu and also have a huge selection of ice cream, about 34 flavors. Slowly, chains have been taking over prime locations and pushing out locally owned businesses. This is not going to happen here! They are family owned and operated and will continue growing and earning more business. With the closing of Stewarts in Rockaway and the soon to be a Wawa convenience store from the Chatterbox, distinctive places to eat are being lost. Many who go out to eat with their family want a fun atmosphere and perhaps to eat outside. If icecream is the crave, The After has a large menu of both food and ice cream.
What are the favorites of the people who stop in? According to Gina it’s the vanilla soft serve and mint chocolate chip hard ice cream. Sounds good to me! Milkshakes and floats are also popular, especially in the warmer months. Don’t worry, they have picnic tables out back and a nice scenic view to enjoy treats. One may notice Gina smile: It’s because she loves to watch someone enjoy the ice cream and the dribble of sprinkles down a little one’s face. That’s what keeps her in the business. She loves making people enjoy their experience there. As one can tell, she plans on keeping the business thriving for years to come.
Check out the ice cream menus. There are so many flavors and whimsical cones to choose from. Whether ice cream in a bowl, cone, or waffle bowl, sprinkles too….they’ve got you covered.
Breakfast? Oh, they’ve got it, and great menu at that including Taylor Ham, or those that call it pork roll, with egg and cheese. Grab one for that boss, too, that way if late, they won’t mind. Lunch menu is also a selection of drool worthy offerings. If like Gina, she still goes by the old stand by for her favorite. She’s a cheeseburger and fries kind of a gal, although, she will gladly have a rib steak sandwich when pressed.
Whether it is breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and ice cream…it is all at The After. There are not many establishments that keep going for 48 years run by the same family. There are also not many restaurants that aren’t using frozen food. Ask the regulars. They will share why they keep going back. Next time, if wondering where to drive to for an outing, how about taking the family, the team, the group, or just oneself to The After.
Sit outside under an umbrella or enjoy the sunshine while basking in a soft serve haze. It’s all there at The After.