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🌱Was this Ocean City’s last Black-owned eatery? | Down the Shore

Plus, real talk about the word ‘Shoobie.’

Pam Womble and husband Herbie Allwood (right) close their Caribbean restaurant Mosaic 701 in Ocean City, NJ. after serving community for over a decade. Photo taken on Thursday, May 26, 2022. They are chatting with neighborhood resident Sharon Dadswell outside their old restaurant now Gail’s Salad Co. The dog is named Satchmo.
Pam Womble and husband Herbie Allwood (right) close their Caribbean restaurant Mosaic 701 in Ocean City, NJ. after serving community for over a decade. Photo taken on Thursday, May 26, 2022. They are chatting with neighborhood resident Sharon Dadswell outside their old restaurant now Gail’s Salad Co. The dog is named Satchmo.Read moreALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer

Some interviews are over quickly, a mad dash, and others, like the one I did recently with chef Herbie Allwood and Pamela Womble, owners of the former 701 Mosaic restaurant in Ocean City, you just never want to end. This one seemed like it might stretch on all day.

It was a pleasure to sit with chef Herbie, who grew upin Jamaica’s St. Elizabeth Parish, and Pam for what we called an “exit interview,” nursing coffees on the patio outside another Ocean City institution, the Positively 4th Street Cafe, for nearly three hours. Three hours!

Allwood and Womble, who are married, made the difficult decision to close their popular Caribbean and Mediterranean restaurant ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

As two of the only Black business owners in Ocean City — Pam thinks they were the only ones at the end — they have a unique insight into a Shore town like Ocean City. Their thoughts touch on familiar themes about who gets to say who belongs Down the Shore and where, questions that have become more pressing as the Shore slips into the stratosphere of unaffordability.

There were incidents over the years, more than blips, as Pam said, but still, she reflected, seemingly inevitable. For instance, they say their Black J1 student-workers from the Caribbean were repeatedly stopped by Ocean City police while riding their bicycles home after work. (Chief Jay Prettyman denied his officers target anyone because of race or ethnicity.)

But their nearly two decades in Ocean City were infused with the warmth of customers who became friends, who loved Herbie’s food, the jerk chicken, the escoveich fish, the Mosaic salad, and Womble’s wit and passion, and enthusiasm for creating a fine-dining experience in dry Ocean City.

As the interview ended, they insisted we walk over to the historic Ocean City Life-Saving Museum, where John Loeper, an inn owner who worked to save and then restore the historic building, was presiding over its wondrous interior. For all the times I’ve sat at Fourth and Atlantic staring across at the building, I’d never thought to go inside. Looper helped smooth the way for 701 Mosaic, when Ocean City’s powers-that-be were a little resistant, a little nervous about the idea of a Jamaican restaurant in their resort.

And now, Pam and chef Herbie were urging me to write about Looper’s work at the Station. I will definitely be back. Read my full interview with the couple here.

🌊 Tides will be coming up as the afternoons wear on this weekend, so be prepared to move that chair.

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— Amy S. Rosenberg (🐦 Tweet me at @amysrosenberg. 📷 Follow me on Insta at @amyrosenberg. 📧 Email me at

Shore talk

🥖 Sack O’ Subs breaking news: All of Ventnor seems certain that the Sacco family will be returning to restore their family’s honor by reopening the shockingly shuttered Sack O’ Subs on Ventnor Avenue, as early as this weekend. We are betting on it.

🍕The saving of Wildwood’s pizza slice house. It was a victory for Wildwood’s historic preservation folks, and for those who want to just keep Wildwood weird. The landmark 1960s red A-frame building, slated for demolition, was sliced in half, and carted offshore, where its final destination is yet to be determined, but possibly a cemetery. Pizza house saved from demolition.

🚦Traffic Down the Shore Always a slog to and from the Shore, not to mention those unsynchronized local traffic lights. And watch out Sunday for closures due to the American Cancer Society’s Bike-A-Thon ending in Atlantic City. My colleague Tom Fitzgerald has the latest on that lovely gateway tothe Shore, the I-295, 76, and Route 42 “interchange from hell.

J.K. Rowling’s old yacht? The Arriva, once owned by J.K. Rowling, and before that, Johnny Depp, and sporting a British flag, was briefly docked at the Golden Nugget Marina. Alas, if you were looking for some Absecon Island quidditch, the yacht took a nine-hour, 22-minute trip from Atlantic City and is now docked in New York City. See video of the yacht here.

🗳️ Shore politics: New Jersey held a primary.

What to eat/What to do

🦀 Hang out on LBI: Long Beach Island, is it still a Philly thing? It used to divide between New Yorkers and Philly, then started to skew New York, now New Yorkers can be found all over the Shore. But LBI is lovely, and I never leave without hitting up Boulevard Clams in Surf City. Here’s our LBI guide.

🚌 Take a jitney in Ocean City The popular Atlantic City mini-buses have expanded to Stone Harbor and Avalon in recent years, and this year, they’re in Ocean City, taking people to the boardwalk and to downtown. Find Ocean City’s jitney schedule here.

Fill up with food. Fuel prices got you down? Sit among the former pumps at the Exit Zero Filling Station on Sunset Boulevard in Cape May, where curry-eating diners fill tables set among the former gas station lanes. Here’s our guide to other Shore spots with big outside seating.

Shore snapshot

Vocab lesson

So if you did last week’s Shordle (Shore wordle), you know that the answer was … Shoob, short for Shoobie, that word referring to second-home owners, summer people, day-trippers, anyone who’s not a local. (Apologies to the shlocals, who claim a foot in both camps.) The word’s usage has ebbed over the years, and seems to be used a bit less lately.

It also seems to cause people more distress lately when they are called Shoobies. I’ve heard a lot of explanations of its origin, but the most likely seems to be from the original train day trippers who packed their lunch in a shoebox. It’s true that locals can use the word a bit disparagingly, all in fun, mostly, and non-locals can feel a bit defensive, especially those who pay taxes. As with so much, the joke doesn’t seem so funny to people anymore.

Should Shoobie still be used? At The Inquirer, we’re giving it some serious thought. Meanwhile, Kook Burger in Brigantine has a marketing campaign to welcome Shoobies. (Never mind Shoobie Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, when some in Brigantine have been known to celebrate their departure.)

📮 Let me know what you think by replying to this email, and we’ll continue the the Shoobie discussion in a future newsletter.

Living local with Steve Hauck, house mover

After Hurricane Sandy, SJ Hauck and other house lifters and movers were everywhere, raising vulnerable houses to meet new FEMA regulations. Lately Hauck’s has been in the news for moving houses, like Wildwood’s pizza slice house. We had questions for owner Steve Hauck.

Was the pizza slice house a big challenge? No. Not really. It’s what we do. The only difference about it, is it’s a big triangle. It’s real tall and skinny. We don’t typically move A-frame houses like that.

So many houses get demolished at the Shore. Could they have been moved instead? Absolutely. We move 20, 25 houses a year. We can move double that.

People don’t realize these houses can be saved. It’s what should be done. Typically we get houses that are scheduled for demolition. A three-bedroom ranch home doesn’t make it on a million-dollar lot. We move them into towns where that does work. They become houses again.

Your Shore memory

Here’s a Shore memory from Jen Ragen of Philly, also known as Electric Jen, who recently became a second-home owner. She said this story “still hurts me deeply,” but is “a shining example of Philly grit.”

About a decade ago while in our mid-20s, my husband and I visited Margate frequently. We’d leave Philly at 8 a.m., stop at Wawa for hoagies for the cooler, enjoy the pristine beach for the day, then head home by 4. Our visits included no alcohol, no smoking, no music, and no litter. We simply enjoyed the sun, sand, and waves. One visit, while asking a woman where I could find a public restroom, I mentioned we were there for the day. With absolute disdain, she spit out that “there are OTHER beaches for that.” I’ve never felt so unwelcome — nor so speechless — in my life. As a formerly poor kid from Philly who was lucky to get 3 nights in a Wildwood motel each summer, I knew exactly what she meant.

Two years ago we purchased our dream beach house in that very town, on the very street where the only public beach restroom in Margate is located. I wish that woman could see us now, enjoying our third beach season as hardworking, well-deserving homeowners.

📮 Send us your Shore memory for a chance to be featured here or tweet me @amysrosenberg.

Hey Electric Jen, see you on the Boards!