NORTH WILDWOOD – The owner of a bayside marina-restaurant is “riding in the tube,” so to speak, after North Wildwood City Council authorized the transfer of a liquor license to the former South Dock Café and Marina.
Council passed Resolution 13 at its Feb. 7 meeting approving a person-to-person and place-to-place transfer of an ABC license from Olde New Jersey Tavern LLC to The Surfing Pig LLC at West 10th Avenue and the bay.
Two weeks later, on Feb. 21, City Council passed a resolution which approved a person-to-person transfer of an ABC license from 5 O’Boyles Bankruptcy Trustee to 2507 Delaware LLC. City clerk Scott Jett said 2507 Delaware LLC is a limited liability corporation set up by the bank as owner of the liquor license, which will ultimately end up being sold.
Surfing Pig owners Bill and Megan Bumbernick purchased the South Dock Café and Marina in 2015. The café had operated on weekend evenings as Smoke ‘n’ Bones BBQ. Adding the liquor license is part of improvements the Bumbernicks are making to the business, said Bob Bumbernick. He said some of the improvements were suggestions that came from former owner Art Andre.
Bumbernick said his wife, Megan, and her family vacationed in the Wildwoods for years. After he met her in 1999, he started visiting the Wildwoods as well.
He said they started to visit the South Dock Café for breakfast and he took a liking to the place.
“We would have Sunday breakfast before leaving to go back home,” Bumbernick said. “I wanted to buy this place from the beginning."
The Bumbernicks lived in Gloucester County and he worked in his own software business in Philadelphia.
“On Aug. 5, 2011 I sold my business. In August 2011 I asked Art if he would sell the business. He said, ‘No,’” Bumbernick said.
Bumbernick said he asked Andre several more times over the years, but he always refused saying he wanted to leave the business to his kids. In August 2014, with the kids apparently not interested in running the restaurant/marina, Andre said he was willing to sell. The Bumbernicks purchased the business in January 2015 and operated the business since, with the intention of changing over to seafood.
“It was a great breakfast restaurant, but I never did barbecue. My only intent was to do away with the barbecue and go to seafood,” Bumbernick said. “However, I fell in love with the customers and the barbecue concept.”
Between the time he sold his software business and purchased what became the Surfing Pig, the Bumbernicks operated an organic, community-supported agriculture farm in Gloucester County. As part of the farm they ran a farm-to-table restaurant, which gave them restaurant experience.
“All the while, I wanted this place,” Bumbernick said of the Surfing Pig.
He said in 2015 they operated the 80-slip marina while thinking they could run both the marina and the farm/restaurant. After a while they figured out that something had to give; they couldn’t do both.
“Our hearts were always here,” Bumbernick said of the decision to sell the farm and run the marina/restaurant alone.
Just about that time they were approached by a couple who wanted to buy the farm, and just about a year to the day they bought the business in North Wildwood they sold the farm in Gloucester County.
In April 2016, the Bumbernicks found a home in Wildwood Crest. Living there, Bumbernick said, is everything he thought it would be
He said he was trying to figure out how to improve the business in North Wildwood. He said Art and Rita Andre had done a great job building the business, making it what they wanted it to be. He said they were making their entrees and sauces from scratch, and purchasing fresh local seafood from Dock Street Seafood. Bumbernick said people are already raving about the crab cakes at the Surfing Pig, which also has burgers and other non-seafood items.
He said the restaurant was always BYOB, but the opportunity came up to purchase a liquor license, which was only an improvement on the business.
“We are looking at bringing in local beers, which is what the tourists want to see,” he said. “We will probably bring in Cape May IPA and other beers, as well as have rum drinks. We are on the water and people want tropical drinks.”
Bumbernick said they are still adapting to owning a business in a shore community. One of the biggest challenges, he said, is planning for Wednesday or Thursday nights. He said there is no way of predicting whether they will have a light crowd or be phenomenally busy. He said this causes them to run the risk of running out of food.
“If you do, there is nothing you can do about it,” he said.
Bumbernick said he believes there is no other place like the Surfing Pig on the island, and he is set on maintaining a tradition started by the Andre family.
“One thing people love about Wildwood is the nostalgia. You can evolve to a point, but you don’t want to wipe the slate clean and start over,” he said.
Bumbernick said they will continue to rent slips in the marine, as well as rent boats, pontoon boats, kayaks and paddle boards. He said they are in the process of constructing a bar facing the water, which will accommodate 12 to 15 people. He said they are installing glass doors that will be open in the fair weather and closed during foul weather, and allow them to open earlier in the spring and extend their fall season.