SOMERS POINT — While Gregory’s Restaurant and Bar has been a favorite spot for dinner and a drink since 1946, owner Walt Gregory said the establishment is always making changes to improve the customer experience while keeping an eye on tradition and being a strong community partner.
The restaurant remodeled ahead of the spring, and Gregory is looking forward to serving his regulars and enticing people who have never stopped in to check the place out.
“Every day since 1946, there has been a Gregory in the building,” said Gregory, who took over the business with his cousin Greg Gregory in 1979 from their fathers, Walter and Elmer.
“You can’t run a successful business with an absentee owner, and you sure can’t make any money with an absentee owner."
According to the book “300 Years at the Point” by William Kelly, when Walt and Greg took over the business in 1979, they remodeled the building. But they also worked to retain the charm that has helped make Gregory’s a mainstay at the Jersey Shore.
They kept fresh-caught seafood as a staple of the menu and added things like Taco Tuesday, an Adios Turistos party after the summer, and venison on Super Bowl Sunday as a way to show locals how important their business is to the Gregory family.
“As a family and as a business, we are involved with Somers Point from the historical society all the way to Little League teams,” said Walt Gregory, who started working at the restaurant when he was 16. “It is what I was raised to do."
Last weekend, Gregory’s was one of the locations for the Somers Point Business Association's April in Paris weekend of music, food and art. The restaurant hosted a French music trio.
According to Kelly's book, before it was Gregory’s, the building at Shore Road and Delaware Avenue was Piercy’s General Dry Goods Store in 1908. In 1913 it became the Piercy Hotel, and in 1929 it was the Davis Hotel. The bar was moved to the basement during Prohibition
After the Great Depression, the Great Atlantic Hurricane of 1944 and World War II, many properties changed hands. Walter “Pop” Gregory bought the place for his sons Elmer and Walter, who were returning from the war, and it has been in the family since that day.
Gregory’s became the place for locals and seasonal visitors to fresh seafood, seven draft beers for $1, pool, shuffleboard and darts.
Walt Gregory said the next generation of the Gregory family is paying close attention to the kitchen, the bar and the menu. Greg Gregory’s sons Paul and Joe have joined the team. Both are graduates of the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College and are keeping the traditional favorites while adding new specials.
The restaurant's remodeling started in the fall. Walt Gregory said they stripped the dining room to the bones and have completely redone it, finishing about six months ago. New walls, trim, flooring and lights blend in with painted and polished favorites such as the 85-year-old bar back and the exposed-beam ceiling that set the ambiance in 1908.
Gregory’s offers the best French onion soup in town — according to a friendly competition held during the April in Paris weekend — and its burgers took the prize in the Atlantic City Burger Bash.
Walt Gregory said his favorite dinner is the 7-ounce seared salmon finished in the oven and drizzled served atop fresh garlic-sauteed spinach and sauteed onions and drizzled with a port wine reduction. He takes his with homemade fries that he dips in the port wine sauce.
Gregory said customer favorites include the French dip and the chicken caprese panini with grilled chicken, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella and spinach. Others are clams on the half shell, mussels, tacos, and lobster picked from the tank.
“We have it all,” he said.
Gregory’s is at 900 Shore Road. The dining room is open 11 a.m.-midnight, and the bar is open 11 a.m.-2 a.m. For information call 609-927-6665 or see Gregory's Bar on Facebook.