Category Archives: Jersey Shore

Happy Hour

When you’re too tired to stay out late, but too young to stay indoors ||

The Strand Theater Now that autumn and daylight savings time is upon us here at the Jersey Shore, it’s getting harder and harder for me to get myself up for a late night out. With darkness coming on sooner in the day and Jersey Shore entertainment starting later in the evening (usually around 10PM), I can barely keep going to enjoy myself. Sometimes, even a nap after getting home from work doesn’t do the trick for me.

So I had to rediscover Happy Hour and make it my own again.

The reason I say “rediscover” is because back when I was spinning records in the early 80’s at the Bar Bombay, Happy Hour was big business, prime time. People literally would park themselves on the bar stools for hours on end, both there and every other watering hole in the area. It was probably one of the best times for the bars to make money outside of the weekend nights, and from a DJ’s perspective, it was an easy payday. There wasn’t a lot of pressure to get people to dance then, just so long as the music was pumping and the people were happy.

Back then, I used to either work deejaying Happy Hour OR go to and meet people for Happy Hour, then go out afterwards to a club. Now it’s Happy Hour or a late night event, either one or the other.

Happy Hour Lately, instead of trying to keep myself up to make it to any of the shore’s major entertainment venues, I’ve just headed out right after work on Friday to the nearest area bar for an “early nightcap”, then head home. The latest I can make myself stay up is probably around 11PM-11:30PM or so, and since a lot of the entertainment starts at 10PM, I have to ask myself if it’s really worth it to go out just when I can feel myself winding down for the night.

Plus, there are usually multiple events going on over the weekend here at the Jersey Shore, so the dilemma is not only whether to stay up to attend an event, but also to choose which one to go to. Unless I see a show that starts late that I really really really want to go see, I’ll just forget about it, hit a couple of pubs for Happy Hour, and call it an early night (drinking responsibly, of course).

Enjoying Happy Hour is easy. You walk in and sit at the bar, then order your favorite drink. If you’re at a local watering hole, more than likely, you’ll start running into people you know. You engage in light conversation with them, then continue to order a few more rounds until you’ve had your fill of social interaction. You close out your tab and then head out.

As a money maker, Happy Hour is coming back. The great thing about HH now is that a lot of places offer acoustic acts as background to all that afternoon imbibing. Usually those acts are stripped-down versions of the groups and musical acts that you’d see in any Jersey Shore club late at night. For instance, even though you wouldn’t see a full music group during a Happy Hour, you might see a smaller version of that group perform while you’re relaxing with a drink in hand. There are some places that still employ deejays during Happy Hour, but more places are switching to live entertainment as a change of pace.

So draw me another Malibu bay breeze, bartender. . .and long live Happy Hour!!

You can find the entire Jersey Shore Retro blog here. Also, you can follow Kevin Cieri’s blog entries on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro.


The Strand Theater Goes Bigtime

Freehold’s Lori Davis steers Lakewood’s most famous landmark towards national prominence ||

The Strand TheaterWith the increase in the number of local bands here at the Jersey Shore, more and more business establishments have begun to showcase musical entertainment as a way to attract customers inside their doors. Because of this, the multipurpose entertainment center concept is making a comeback in the area.

One such place that is experiencing a rebirth of sorts is The Strand Theater in Lakewood. In 1922, the theater was built for the Ferber Amusement Company as a place for pre-Broadway show runs, as well as for musical and comedy acts that played the famed Borscht Belt. I can remember back when I was a kid that comedians like Gabe Kaplan (from “Welcome Back Kotter” fame) and Jackie Mason performed at the Strand before bringing their acts to audiences in upstate New York. For many, the Strand served as a testing ground of sorts for their acts.

The Strand is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, seats a little over a thousand people, and puts on about 150 shows throughout the year. . .from concerts to movie premieres to private affairs as well as benefits to raise funds for worthy causes.

The Strand Theater The theater’s goal now is to be the main venue for all types of entertainment in the region, ranging from full bands to acoustic acts to comedy acts to casino night-type fundraisers. This is where my friend, Lori Davis, comes in. Lori has been with the Strand for the last five years and was promoted last year as the front-of-house manager. She’s in charge of scheduling the entertainment for both the theater stage and the gallery, working with each act on their contract riders, overseeing ticket sales and group sales, and directing promotions for the theater on social media. From live performances to CD release parties, Lori has her hands in all aspects of the Strand’s operations.

Lori herself has been a staple at the Jersey Shore entertainment scene, singing professionally for 30 years in and around the tri-state area, performing many jobs in New York City. She’s been a singer with many well-known bands from back in the day, such as “Step Aside”, “The Shades”, and “Hourglass”, where she performed at clubs, private parties, and celebrity events. She also owned the band “Main Attraction” for 14 years, and it became one of her most successful entertainment business endeavors prior to working at the Strand.

The Strand Theater-style Nowadays, Lori sings mostly in two area music groups: “JoBonnano and The Godsons of Soul” and “The Tony D Band”, performing at both clubs and private parties throughout the year — all this on top of her duties with the Strand. And to top it all off, she’s also the full-time mother to two children.

So it’s no small wonder that with all this wealth of both musical talent and business experience that the theater’s management decided to hire her. Of course, having a great working relationship with the theater’s director, Scott McFadden, and Fran Whitney, the theater’s operations manager, goes a long way, with all three sharing a vision for the Strand to be best in class.

Finally, in partnering with local Jersey Shore promoters Jim D’Amico and Joe Mirrione, Lori has been able to cultivate a large array of local talent, mixed together with regional and national acts to perform at the Strand that’s sure to get the theater’s line-up on par with other New Jersey-based multipurpose theaters, like The Count Basie Theater in Red Bank and The House of Independents in Asbury Park. That’s Lori’s ultimate goal as the Strand’s front-of-house manager, and she states with confidence, “We should be there in about a year.”

For tickets, schedule, and other information, you can contact The Strand Theater at 732-367-7789 or on Facebook

You can find the entire Jersey Shore Retro blog here. Also, you can follow Kevin Cieri’s blog entries on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro.

Another “Last” Is In The Books

This one’s a big deal, too ||

Sometime earlier when I began writing this blog, I mentioned about how life becomes a series of “lasts”, where a family tradition or routine that was done for some time eventually stops and comes to an end.

Just recently, another “last” happened to us. Last week, we moved my son Christian into his apartment to start his senior year at the University of Rochester.

No more buggy-lugging furniture onto a dormitory elevator, no more hauling boxes of college-related stuff into a single room, no more trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, WalMart, and Target for the essentials that we learned to buy while up at college and not bring them up with us from home.

This past summer, I made a conscientious effort to spend as much time with Christian as possible. In fact, I dubbed it “the summer of Christian”. We tried to get in as much quality time as possible. It was a little hard because of our work schedules, but whenever we weren’t together, we e-mailed each other to see how our days were going.

We somehow managed to do a few great things over the course of the summer that I hoped would make it memorable for him. I even did my first vegan restaurant with him and the family, all thanks to his suggestion. As a meat-eater, I would have to say not half bad.

The most notable thing we both did together was attend a documentary premiere at The House of Independents in Asbury Park. “Destiny’s Bridge” was the story of Minister Steve Brigham, the residents of “Tent City” in Lakewood, and the minister’s untiring efforts to bring housing and dignity to those residents left homeless when their makeshift city was torn down.

But when it was time to leave for Rochester, I was feeling a bit melancholy. I didn’t want my time with him to end, but I knew that school was where he needed to be.

We all left New Jersey on Friday morning and made the 6½ hour road trip into upstate New York without any incident, checked into our hotel, and met Christian and his sister Anne Marie at his off-campus apartment complex (they had driven up in Christian’s car).

What a big step up from last year. His junior year, he had a single dorm room and shared a community bathroom with three other residents. We would unload the car and stuffed all of his belongings into this one room while trying to make the place look nice in case he had guests or study groups come over after we left.

Now, he was in a four-bedroom apartment that he shared with three other roommates. But to him the best part was that he had his own bathroom. I suppose that would be a big deal, especially for someone who’s had to share one the first three years at school.

So we started moving the big stuff in, then headed out to dinner at The Red Fern, a vegan restaurant on the outskirts of Rochester.

On Saturday, we headed out to Bed Bath & Beyond for his linens, then on to WalMart for some food and other nick-nacks. We got back to the apartment, unloaded everything, and then hit The Owl House for dinner, one of our favorite restaurants near downtown Rochester. Afterwards, we all went back to his place and said our good-byes. The next time we would be up there would be in early October for Parents Weekend. . .our “last” one of those, too.

As we travelled back home on Sunday, I began to think about how far Christian had come in his life and how quickly the last three years of school had gone for him. This was the last time we would be moving him in at school. The next time we would come up to move furniture, it would be in May to move him out and back home (or wherever life may take him).

It made me kind of sad knowing that after this year, there wouldn’t be any reason for us to go back to Rochester ever again. We had so many great family moments up there with him. All of his Off-Broadway-On-Campus shows that he performed in (he still has two more shows his senior year). . .when we took him under the big tree near Gilbert Hall his freshman year to calm him down when he realized that we would be leaving him up there all by himself. . .all the great performers and activities we shared in for the last three years during Parents Weekend. . .Jason Alexander. . .Kristen Chenowith. . .

Yes, thirty-eight first days have come and gone. But one bright spot associated with this “last”. . .no more FAFSA forms to fill out. . .AMEN! Good luck, buddy, from your biggest fan!

You can find the entire Jersey Shore Retro blog here. Also, you can follow Kevin Cieri’s blog entries on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro.

All-Year Reunions

A good idea if you go in a group ||

All-Year Reunions This past weekend, I headed up to Bar Anticipation in Lake Como for the annual Rowan University all-year reunion party.

For the longest time, I had wanted to attend this event, which is usually held in the middle of August. Tom Jannarone, the owner of Bar A, is a Rowan alumni himself, and every year, he opens up the place to fellow graduates of Rowan. But over the years, for one reason or another, I just couldn’t break away to attend.

This year, it was different. Our anniversary was on a Sunday this year, so my wife had made plans with some friends for dinner on Saturday night, and the kids were hanging out in the city. With nothing to do, I headed out to Bar A to grab a drink with fellow alumni and pick up a burger or two for dinner.

I get there around 4:45, and it was like a nuthouse, although I expected nothing less at Bar A. Since the bar opened up in 1981, it’s been one of the most popular clubs here at the Jersey Shore. The place is always hopping, no matter what time of the year it is. What’s so neat about Bar A is that there’s an indoor and outdoor section, both of them huge. The bands play indoors, and the DJ’s can spin either indoors or outdoors. The Grotto Beach outdoor section is where all the bar’s world-famous turtle races are held. Every time I’ve gone there, it’s always a good time.

All-Year Reunions But the weather was 90-plus degrees outside, the music from the DJ was blasting away, and all the young alumni were running around, hugging and high-fiving all their friends. I would imagine that some, fresh out of school this past May, were trying to continue reliving their college days just by the way they were drinking and acting. I suppose I shouldn’t be so judgmental, but then again, how could I not be? I think I may have been one of the oldest ones there that day.

Luckily, I found a few friends my age and hung out with them for about an hour-and-a-half. The heat and humidity was just too much, and the few Malibu bay breezes that I had at the bar were going down way too fast.

I wound up heading for home around 6PM. Once there, I showered and got dressed to go out to the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park, where Jannarone’s band, The Smokin’ Jackets, were playing that evening. Before the band got up to play their first set, I happened to run into Tom and told him how much of a great time I observed everyone having back at Bar A at the reunion. He seemed happy to hear that.

It was a good night that night from a music perspective. While my wife continued to spend the evening with friends, I caught a good portion of The Smokin’ Jackets’ set and then walked over to Porta, where I caught the last set of another local band, So Watt. That’s one of the great things about hanging out in Asbury Park. You can literally walk to about a dozen different bars and clubs along the old circuit that are all within a 5-10 minute walk of each other.

Will I go to another Rowan reunion at Bar A? It all depends. But the next time I go, I’ll try and rustle up some fellow alumni around my age and from around the area and go with them. And maybe I’ll wait a few years.

After all, a guy my age can only take so much of a good time, right?

You can find the entire Jersey Shore Retro blog here. Also, you can follow Kevin Cieri’s blog entries on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro.

Haskell Hat Day

The one day where I don’t mind waking up early on a Sunday ||

Haskell Hat Day It’s Sunday, July 31, 2016, and I’ve been waiting at the Monmouth Park grandstand entrance since 9:15 this morning, hoping to grab a few Haskell hats once the gates open up…I must either be nuts or have OCD to keep my hat collection current…unbelievable!!

The hat collection I’m referring to is my collection of hats commemorating the Haskell Handicap race at Monmouth Park, the track’s premiere race for the summer thoroughbred horseracing season.

The Amory L. Haskell Handicap has been run at Monmouth Park since 1968 and has attracted some of the most famous racehorses from around the world. It’s the only race in the entire meet that’s run at a mile-and-a-half.

The state took over operations of the track in 1987 and looked for ways to keep old-time bettors coming back while trying to engage new fans to come out for a day at the races. For the Haskell, a hat giveaway was implemented in 1988 and became a big hit with fans. For myself, I have at least one hat from every year that the Haskell has been doing its hat promotion, so for 28 years, this has been an ongoing thing with me.

Haskell Hat Day Now a day at Monmouth Park is like a day at the county fair. Besides all the promotional sportswear for sale, there are rides for the kids, food trucks, and bands playing in one of the picnic areas every now and then. With automated betting machines located throughout the track, you’re never far away from any of the action that’s constantly going on there.

But I digress. . .

When it comes to Haskell hats, it’s like a ritual every year for me. The day that the race is run, I get up early, get my morning coffee and then head over to the track around 9AM (the gates open at 10AM). When the gates open, I go through the turnstiles as many times as I need to in order to get the number of hats I need every year. I usually get two for my dad, then a few for myself. If someone I know needs a hat but can’t get to the track that day, I’ll get them what they need, too.

I’ll stay for a little bit to shoot the breeze with a few people who I know work there, maybe place a few bets if I see a horse running that I like, then leave.

Now that the Haskell hats have been secured and distributed, I head for home to get ready for the rest of the day. I’m usually home no later than 10:30, and the rest of the day is all mine to do whatever I please with it.

Mission accomplished. . .until around the same time next year!

You can find the entire Jersey Shore Retro blog here. Also, you can follow Kevin Cieri’s blog entries on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro.

Hot Dogs, Jersey Shore-style

How to dress-up a hot dog while down the shore ||

Hot Dogs, jersey Shore-styleI’m not sure if it’s my own personal taste or the fact that I’ve been doing this out of habit for years, but I truly believe that there is a science to dressing up a hot dog when you buy it at the Jersey Shore that makes it look like a work of art and taste great, too. To explain all this a little further, I visited one of my favorite hot dog restaurants at the Jersey Shore, The Windmill, to go over the step-by-step process for all of you out there to follow in order to make preparing and eating your own hot dog while down at the Jersey Shore a truly unique experience.

Once you get the hot dog, take the mustard container and squeeze out the mustard in a steady stream, working across the entire dog from end to end within the bun. Make sure you put it deep in the bun so that when you hold the hot dog to eat it, the mustard spreads sideways, garnishing the entire hot dog.

Next up is the sauerkraut. Whatever you do, don’t glob it on, or the juices from the kraut will wet the bun, which will make it fall apart while you’re right in the middle of eating your hot dog. Gently pick up a little sauerkraut and let the kraut drip back into the pot so that it goes on not too wet and not too dry, then spread the sauerkraut across the hot dog. Also, place the sauerkraut on the opposite side of the bun from where you put the mustard. For example, if you spread the mustard on the bottom half of the bun, put the sauerkraut on the top half. This allows for space on your bun when you put the relish on.

 Hot Dogs, Jersey Shore-style There are three types: regular or pickled relish (green); the sweet relish (red); and the spicy or hot relish, which is also red, but you can see the pepper seeds in it, indicating it’s got a good kick to it. The relish goes on top of where you put the mustard, so you now have an even amount of condiments on either side of the hot dog within the bun itself (since relish doesn’t take up as much space as sauerkraut does). My personal preference is the green relish, but that’s just me.

The distinctive tastes of all three condiments (mustard, sauerkraut, and relish), while hitting your palate separately, will all converge in your mouth with the hot dog itself to give you the quintessential epicurean experience that will make you come back to the Jersey Shore time and time again for them.

One last thing. . .Now look at your hot dog just sitting there in the paper holder, and you’ll notice that the hot dog is longer than the bun. There are two ways you can handle this. You can either move one side of the hot dog even with the bottom of the bun, giving you about 2-3 inches of bare, unadulterated hot dog on the other side of the bun that you can bite into prior to eating the rest of the hot dog with the bun and condiments. Or, you can leave equal amounts of the hot dog sticking out over each side of the bun. My personal choice is to move the hot dog to have one side even with the bun while the other side hangs over the two or three inches.

So there you have it. The ultimate Jersey Shore style hot dog. Mangia!!

You can find the entire Jersey Shore Retro blog here. Also, you can follow Kevin Cieri’s blog entries on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro.

My Wife, The Fitness Warrior

Onward and upward to a lifetime of health and happiness ||

My Wife, The Fitness WarriorFor the last few months, I’ve been writing about some interesting characters here at the Jersey Shore. Entertainers, race trackers, business owners. . .people that make the Jersey Shore go ‘round and ‘round. One of my own personal favorite people in the world is just as interesting as anyone I’ve ever written about, so I’ve decided to tell my wife Pauline’s story about her newfound commitment to a healthy lifestyle.

In February of 2014, my wife was diagnosed with a metabolic disorder that produced a fatty liver. Her doctor told her that she was facing a liver transplant if her health situation wasn’t gotten under control.

So she was put on a high protein low carbohydrate diet. . .no bread, no pasta, no rice, no potatoes of any kind. Lo and behold, from February – December 2014, she lost 50 pounds.

When the new year started (January 2015), Pauline made a New Year’s resolution to exercise 3-4 times a week. Our daughter Anne Marie, a physical education and health major who recently graduated from Kean University, got her mother to exercise for 21 days straight to make it a habit.

My Wife, the Fitness Warrior First, she began working out to on-demand fitness videos through Comcast@, our cable TV provider. Pauline would take snapshots of herself through a mirror and write down what workouts she did during the week. Then, Anne Marie would review her workouts and recommend changes to her routines, just to switch things up.

In July 2015, Pauline purchased Autumn Calabrese’s 21-Day Fix@ program (30 minute workouts for 21 straight days), a Beach Body@ product, and this is when her physical appearance started to change drastically in a short period of time. Beach Body@ is the company that produces workout videos along with meal plans, vitamin and energy supplements and “Shakeology” protein shakes.

Beach Body@ also provides a personal coach who motivates you and checks in on how you’re doing with whatever workout program you’re using. As Pauline continued to workout under Beach Body@ programs, her body got toner, and the inches melted away. From January 2015 to January 2016, she lost another 40 pounds.

Two months ago, Pauline started T25@, another Beach Body@ product that’s a 10-week-long program.

She never misses a beat with her workouts. Every day, every morning. . . Even when travelling, she packs resistance bands and her workout DVD’s in her travel bag. She doesn’t need a gym. Her gym is the living room in front of the TV.

People from all around, both men and women, have approached her to find out how she lost a total of 101 pounds over a two-and-a-half year period. Some people even think that she’s had bariatric surgery of some kind (she hasn’t). “Slow and steady wins the race” is her new mantra, since losing weight quickly doesn’t teach you how to eat. . .a big part of the Beach Body@ regimen.

Because of the success she was having with her workouts, her coach approached her to become a Beach Body@ coach herself, based on her success with the program, her belief in the products, and her new-found dedication to a healthy lifestyle.

Being a coach keeps her accountable to both herself and her customers that she mentors. She started her journey at 52. Age is just a number. “It’s not about the number on the scale, but it’s about your fitness level.” At 54 years of age, her motto is “no more excuses”. And she continues on her high protein low carbohydrate diet. . .no bread, no pasta, no rice, no potatoes of any kind.

When T25@ comes to an end, Pauline’s next exercise endeavor is CIZE@, another Beach Body@ product and dancing workout video by Shaun T (who also hosts the T25@ workout videos).

If you’d like to hear more about Pauline’s transformation, drop her an e-mail at

As her husband and biggest fan, I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of her for what she’s accomplished and how she continues on down the road to personal excellence. Love her for this and much more.

You can find the entire Jersey Shore Retro blog here. Also, you can follow Kevin Cieri’s blog entries on his Facebook page, “Jersey Shore Retro” as well as on Twitter at @jsretro.