Three courses in Ocean County, N.J.— the Ocean County Golf Course at Atlantis in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., Cedar Creek Golf Course in Bayville, N.J., and Bey Lea Golf Course in Toms River, N.J.—are working with their on-site operators to try to raise awareness and year-round business volumes through arrangements with local culinary schools and increased signage and publicity.
Publicly owned golf courses in Ocean County, N.J. often have a privately owned restaurant on-site, reported Micromedia Publications, which publishes local newspapers for that county as well as Monmouth County. But some of these arrangements are proving to be more successful than others, in large part because some of the course’s locations are better than others in attracting public patronage that is not related to golf. But improvements in food offerings and quality can also make a difference, Micromedia reported.
Three courses in the county with on-premise restaurants that have had varying degrees of success, Micromedia reported, include the Ocean County Golf Course at Atlantis in Little Egg Harbor, N.J., Cedar Creek Golf Course in Bayville, N.J., and Bey Lea Golf Course in Toms River, N.J.
The Atlantis course has hosted the Cuisine on the Green restaurant for about five years, Michael Mangum, Director of Ocean County’s Parks and Recreation Department, told Multimedia. The county took it over after some other restaurants that were at the course went under, Mangum said.
“The restaurant business is a tough business,” he said. “[The course] had one long-term vendor who retired, then went through three vendors in quick succession.”
But Cuisine on the Green is now home to the adult program to teach cooking and restaurant management of the Ocean County Vocational-Technical School (OCVTS), Multimedia reported. That relationship has changed the entire atmosphere, Mangum said, by raising the levels of both food quality and restaurant operations and cleanliness. Special events like food demonstrations are now held at the restaurant, and fresh produce is served that is raised by master gardeners.
“All the problems we had with vendors were gone,” Mangum said.
While Mangum acknowledged to Multimedia that the restaurant is still challenged by an out-of-the-way location, he is hoping that word of mouth will change that, as more people have a pleasant experience and word gets around.
Jared Tate, Director of Recreation for the city of Toms River, told Multimedia that the street visibility for Shogun, the on-site restaurant at Bey Lea GC, has helped it get non-golfing customers who come there just for dinner, and who did not golf.
Shogun has been open for more than a decade, and “They invested a lot in that restaurant,” Tate told Multimedia. The restaurant also offers light fare at a halfway house on the golf course, Multimedia noted.
Cedar Creek GC has had a recent history of having a hard time landing a vendor, Multimedia reported, with the local township (Berkeley) having to go out to bid several times to land an operator that would be able to run the restaurant in an effective manner. Township officials wanted to make sure they could find someone who have the restaurant open when the course is open, Multimedia reported, and also to provide a family atmosphere.
The current vendor operates a restaurant on the site called The Creek House, and has had positive results after recent improvements, Multimedia reported, that including remodeling an entire room and installing a new bar. This operator has also introduced an on-course refreshment cart, Multimedia reported.
Last year saw a slow start for The Creek House, because it did not obtain a liquor license until toward the end of the season, Fred Ebenau, Berkeley Township’s Chief Financial Officer, told Multimedia. Many golfers had also become used to not having an operator on site, Ebenau said, and continued to bring their own food and drinks. But the groundwork was laid for a positive 2017, he added, with the operator and township now in step in working toward mutual success.
“The more people you bring to the golf course helps us, and the more people we bring to your restaurant helps you,” Ebenau said in describing the understanding between the two parties.
When Berkeley Township officials heard that Ocean County’s Atlantis course was using participants in the OCVTS program, they looked into it as well, Ebenau added. But they decided that for Cedar Creek’s situation, “There would have been more minuses than plusses,” he reported.
Cedar Creek also suffers because the restaurant does not have any frontage on a major road, Multimedia reported.
“A lot of people don’t even know there’s a golf course back there,” Ebenau said, let alone a restaurant. To help publicize the restaurant, he told Multimedia, the township has hired a public relations worker and new signage has been installed, all as part of a push to have the restaurant active for a full 12 months.