OCEAN CITY, N.J. The Chatterbox, the iconic pink-facaded, family-owned restaurant in Ocean City, may soon have a new owner.
Longtime owner Marie Repici has reached a deal set for settlement April 1 to sell to Maria and Bob Boyer of Sewell in Gloucester County.
Terms of the pending agreement were not disclosed. The property was assessed at slightly under $1 million, according to tax records.
"I'm sure I am going to miss a lot of the people, but it's time," Repici said. "I'm glad it's over. I should have sold it sooner."
Repici, 82, who bought the restaurant 42 years ago with her husband, Tom, recently decided it was time to leave the family business.
Her husband died in 1986, and their son, Tom Jr., who helped run the restaurant with other relatives, died in 2009.
The deaths and the stress of day-to-day operations became too much. Hurricane Sandy was the final straw, flooding the restaurant, causing $400,000 in damage. Repairs were made, and it reopened Memorial Day.
"It's time for me to get the heck out of Dodge," said Repici who plans to spend winters in a warm climate. "There's always a good chapter coming up."
With its distinctive pink stucco, the Chatterbox has been a landmark known as much for its food as its friendly family-style environment. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served from a vast menu.
The turreted, two-story building at Ninth Street and Central Avenue was designed by Philadelphia architect Vivian Smith in the 1920s in a Spanish Revival style similar to some of his other Ocean City buildings.
Jean Campbell, the original owner of the Chatterbox, moved the enterprise, which she had begun across the street seven years earlier, into the current building in 1944. Campbell operated the restaurant until 1968, when she sold it to Bob Becote.
The new owners plan to keep the Chatterbox name and traditions the Repici family started, such as the Easter Bunny breakfast April 18-20, Maria Boyer said. They are accepting reservations for the breakfast, which typically sells out, she said.
"We're very excited to take it over and get started," Bob Boyer said Friday. "We thought it was the perfect fit for us."
The couple owned Tory's Ice Cream parlor in Ocean City and had been seeking a new venture since selling the business in 2005, he said.
The new owners have hired a new chef and plan to introduce a new menu that includes filet mignon and roasted short ribs, Bob Boyer said.
A job fair is planned at the restaurant for noon to 3 p.m. April 5 to fill up to 25 jobs in all departments.
The Chatterbox will reopen for business at 7 a.m. April 10. For more information, call 609-399-0113.