Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SCARBOROUGH INN MEMORIES - Part II, Ocean City, NJ


Gus & Carol Bruno, Scarborough Inn, Ocean City NJ
For a time, the Scarborough Inn served as official lodging for the soloists performing with the Ocean City Pops.  I discovered a photo of the 35 “headshots” of the stars that stayed with us over the years – these decorated one large wall on the main floor at one time.  These talented performers were always a delight. There’s also a picture of the Music Pier marquee announcing our sponsorship of a Pops concert. 

We have housed other special visitors; too, like the “real” Gidget – who was in town to attend a surfing event on the Music Pier – her inscribed photo is in the main hallway.  We host some of the speakers or performers from the Ocean City Tabernacle. Some of these guests like the fact that we are within walking distance to the Tabernacle grounds and we like offering them a “home away from home” as many travel frequently.  A group of teachers stayed at the inn one pre-season while attending workshops at Ocean City High School and asked to return recently. Nurses from the Philadelphia area came to the island for a seminal class reunion and decided to make it an annual event every fall.  And, of course, there are the couples who celebrate marriages or anniversaries at the Scarborough Inn.

It’s been a privilege to support local charities, organizations, or special events over the years.  Community involvement has been an integral part of our family life. Gus was recently recognized for being part of the “First Night” Board of Directors.  This event is a family-friendly, alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration and it’s great fun!  He also spent many years on the board of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce.  Carol worked with the PTA and served on the board of the Cape Educational Fund.  Both of us participated in professional associations for innkeepers.

A commitment to support fellow businesses lead to cooperation with local restaurants, shops, venders and tradespeople for packages or services.  We have many photographs of the fresh, local ingredients used in breakfasts and afternoon refreshments taken at the weekly OC Farmer’s Market.  Local newspapers, radio stations, and magazines have written articles or conducted interviews at the inn. You’ll see a selection of these features – like the great coverage in Ocean City Magazine – in the main floor hallway.  Our very first award was for the decoration of the “Sweet Thymes” room that included the addition of a Pencil Post bed and lively décor by local design team, Donna Hughes and Darla, Too.  Several years later when we renovated and redecorated the living room, Joann’s (on Asbury Avenue) created a beautiful and welcoming first impression for inn guests.

Looking at the photographs of the inn reminded us of the many, many changes that were made over the years.  When we purchased the Hotel Scarborough in 1988, it had a white exterior with artificial grass on the front porch and aluminum rocking chairs. The interior was painted Beeswax – a pale yellow shade.  All of the antique oak dressers were painted different colors. Room amenities included electric fans.

Goodness, the changes that were made over the years! We have photos of the building being painted traditional colors – the final count was eight shades.  The demolition of the apartment building next door provided parking for guests, plus more sunlight, space, and fresh air.  There are photos of new flowerbeds, the patio gardens, and privacy fencing being added.  Other decorating projects in the guest rooms and common areas were chronicled on the website (a new technology & beautifully designed by multi-talented, Jennifer Freeman) and in INN-Sites, the newsletter we created.  At one time, we mailed communication to guests; increasingly we use online options for reservations, email, and social media.  We’ve added in-room telephones, alarm clocks, AC, televisions (most recently, flat screens), and wireless Internet.  We enlarged many rooms and created some of the largest suites on the island.  We are constantly re-decorating, too.

Old photographs provide an opportunity to see and reflect on additional changes.  While we preserved the “vintage charm” of this historic building, it was also a goal to add “modern amenities” for guests. And we did.  In addition, when we became a Bed & Breakfast, the first food offered was a Continental breakfast served in the living room. With the addition of the dining room, we were able to offer more Breakfast options and Afternoon Refreshments, too.  Fresh, local ingredients became an important commitment of our menu planning and food offerings.

These recollections would be incomplete without mentioning the many, fine staff members who worked at the inn over the years.  Their dedication, hard work, commitment to guest satisfaction, and cheerful cooperation with fellow staff members are invaluable qualities that we value highly.  We enjoy the contributions of international students, too.  It was fun to interact with young people from around the globe and a recent group was featured in a video presentation about the program.  Often, the students bring gifts from their homelands; these are displayed in the Sojourn room on the top floor.  The faces of local staff members and students appear in many photographs – notably at the annual party we provided for our team members.  Thank you all; we recognize and appreciate your many contributions!

We are especially grateful for the contributions of our dear sons, Peter and Jason.  They were part of a very small staff that ran the Scarborough in the early days.  They performed many jobs over the years – laundry, housekeeping, groundskeeper, cook, and front desk – and always did a wonderful job (if we say so ourselves).  Notably, Jason took over the kitchen and produced scrumptious meals that guests raved about – all without any training – when Carol was unable to do that job.  Peter loves computers and became our teacher and guide as we added technology to the inn – both for guest’s use and for inn operations. He continues to be our personal tech guru.  We are forever grateful for their love and for their support of this family business.  And always they make us proud – every day!

Many important things have remained the same through the years. Local families have owned the Scarborough (as far back as we can discover) throughout her many incarnations and have delighted in forming relationships with generations of guests.  What a joy to be part of this tradition of creating a beautiful and welcoming home-away-from-home and extending warm hospitality to our very special visitors and friends.  We are grateful for that opportunity and we thank you!

Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
Scarborough Inn
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast

SCARBOROUGH INN MEMORIES, Ocean City NJ


Recently, I discovered a cache of old photographs during spring-cleaning and, oh, the memories they evoked of  our 27 years at the Scarborough!

There were photos of the “fashions” and hairstyles of the early years (enough said), the smiling faces of guests, the commemoration of special occasions, and the various projects and transformations the building and grounds have undergone, too.

Guests are the heart of the business and their presence and personalities are an indelible part of memories of our 27 years.  For example, there’s Dot who greeted our arrival as the new owners of the Hotel Scarborough (as it was known in those days) with a very surprised look on her face and a question, “What are YOU doing here?”  Thankfully, over the following seasons she adjusted to the new family and spent many years with us and an extended family of guests that all met here.  Dot was a former piano player for silent movies and enjoyed playing our living room piano for guest sing-a-longs – all from her memory of show tunes, hymns, and traditional songs!

Ray and Louise were also part of the “August Tenant’s Association”  (ATA) – a group who met at the Scarborough, discovered they got along famously, and thereafter, planned vacations in Ocean City to coincide with each other’s schedules.  Ray was a retired principal with a lovely smile and a gentle manner – he passed much too soon, but his photo reminds us of his time enjoying the front porch.  His wife, Louise, was a retired teacher and talented artist who frequently participated in the OC Boardwalk Art Show.  One of her pictures hangs in the Library Floor hallway – a constant reminder of her warmth and cheerful spirit.

Ray and Louise were members of the ATA and, happily, many others of the group continue annual visits to the inn. Photographs picture them over the years - rocking on the 100-foot wrap-a-round porch, cavorting on the beach, or singing together.  Some guests, who are now grown or even have children of their own, were photographed as youngsters during summer vacations at the Scarborough.  In some cases, we host 4th generation guests!  That means some guests have been coming here before we arrived.

It was Ray and Louise’s daughters who suggested the idea of a Spring Spruce-up involving willing guests.  The idea was to invite guests to come to Ocean City for a weekend before we were officially open for the season.  In exchange for room and board, they would help with spring-cleaning, or maintenance and repairs.  We were amazed when people actually came – and many returned annually!  What an amazing amount of work we accomplished in just one weekend.  Photos show participants painting the front railings or the bathhouse, scrubbing the siding, or cleaning guest rooms.  They planted annuals in the gardens, stabilized antique chairs for the dining room, and helped install the furniture on the porch and patio each spring. We fed them frequently, everyone laughed and joked a lot, and the weekend ended with a group pizza party on Sunday afternoon. Photos show different groups lined up on the front steps grinning for the camera. Our sincere thanks to all of you for your incredible and generous contributions, Spruce-uppers!

Ocean City, NJ - Dunes on the Beach
We have photos of guests in their finest attire ready for weddings, anniversaries, or showers.  There are pictures of family reunions, girlfriend getaways, and friends vacationing with friends, as well. But we have shared sad times, too. Guests have shared their distress over serious illnesses or concerns about their children or partners.  Some have talked with us about “the black night of the soul” they were experiencing. Others have lost loved ones. We’ve planted roses in the inn’s garden to remember some of those lives, one family remembered their beloved daughter with a ceremony at the inn, and we’ve marveled at the strength and faith people discover in themselves during hard times.

Many guests have expressed their affection for the inn in a number of thoughtful ways. Dorothy always calls when she hears news of an impending hurricane to see if we’re OK.  Beth takes beautiful pictures of the Ocean City beach and has presented several to us – you can see them framed along the main floor hallway. Lani made a beautiful seashore-themed, quilted wall hanging that you can see adjacent to the “Seaside” efficiency.  Beth frequently brings absolutely scrumptious cakes and candies when she visits and shares recipes, too. One reunion group has brought a generous selection of their amazing tomato products from the family business, Furmano’s.  Then there were the many guests and staff members who contributed recipes to Scarborough Seasons (the inn’s collaborative cookbook). All of these lives…all of these memories and experiences…all of these special people are a cherished part of the Scarborough Inn. 

Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
Scarborough Inn
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Summertime at the Jersey Shore - Ocean City, NJ

Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean (Ocean City, NJ)
Spring is right around the corner...time to plan your vacation getaway to Ocean City, NJ with a stay at the Scarborough Inn bed & breakfast. 

I've been looking at photographs of seasons past and reminiscing about favorite places, special events, and especially about our V.I.G.s - (Very Important Guests).  Because, of course, as we redecorate rooms, locate tempting new recipes or add new amenities, we are focused on guest satisfaction, comfort, and pleasure.  The fact that a large percentage of our guests return every year - and some several times a season - rewards these efforts.  Thank you so much for coming again and again!

The 2014 Season at the Scarborough Inn will be grand and we hope it will fill your heart with happiness and wonderful memories to cherish forever.

Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
Scarborough Inn
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast

Saturday, August 17, 2013

"HONEY BEE DAY" is August 17 - Celebrate with a Recipe

Honey Bees in the Hive
Today, August 17, 2013, is National "Honey Bee Day" I've learned. And that's a good thing. We all benefit from the work of honey bees, but may not know a lot about these vital insects.  I'm sure there's lots of websites for factual and educational information about bees, but I've decided to celebrate this national holiday by sharing a recipe!

This recipe for Honey Butter Ambrosia came to me via one of my favorite blogs, "One Good Thing by Jillee" please check it out!  Comments about the recipe that I found helpful were to (1) use less sugar & (2) add 1 teaspoon vanilla.  I'm taking both of those suggestions. If you try this Honey Ambrosia recipe; let me know what you think!

HONEY BUTTER AMBROSIA

1 cup honey (local, if it's available)
1 cup cream
1 cup sugar (try 1/2 cup, if you like)
3 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Put the honey, cream, and sugar in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.  Let it cool a bit and then pour it over the softened butter in a blender.  Blend until the mixture is well combined. Pour it into (canning/ jelly?) jars. Cool. Refrigerate.

Notes: I have to wonder if cinnamon wouldn't be a nice addition (instead of the vanilla?) to add a hint of spice. Luscious on biscuits, waffles or pancakes, ice cream - perhaps with nuts - use your imagination. Enjoy on National Honey Bee Day or any day!

INNsider Tip:
When you visit Jillee's blog, she has some charming labels that you can download for free so you can give the Honey Butter Ambrosia as a gift. Sweet!

Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
Scarborough Inn
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast

Saturday, August 10, 2013

SUMMERTIME RECIPE: "JERSEY FRESH" CORN SOUP

"Jersey Fresh" kernels of Multi-colored Corn
This Summertime Recipe is both delicious and different, based as it is on "Jersey Fresh" corn. Not only that, but it is easy to prepare - a bonus during the busy summer months. Best of all, the main ingredient is local and seasonal.

The original recipe, "Joan Munson's Sweet White Corn Soup with Poblano Puree" is from a REAL SIMPLE post.  I changed it to accommodate the ingredients I like and had available. In addition, I deleted the poblano pepper part altogether (too much work, for too little impact) and substituted something else that is flavorful, but much easier.

Following is the original recipe, with my changes indicated in blue.

"Jersey Fresh" Corn Soup Recipe

1 poblano pepper (I did not use this and substituted something else*)
2 1/2 cups, plus 2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade broth, if available)

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
5 cups fresh corn kernels (about 10 ears)
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream (half & half)
cilantro leaves, for garnish
Tabasco sauce* (the 'something else')

Directions:
1. Heat broiler. On a broiler-proof baking sheet, broil the poblano, turning, until charred, 8 to 12 minutes. Wrap in a paper towel for about 10 minutes until cool. Use the paper towel to remove the skin. Remove the pepper seeds. In a blender, puree the pepper with 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth; transfer to a bowl. Rinse out the blender.

I do not include Step 1 in my version of the recipe - saving about 15-minutes of prep time. In addition, I found it impossible to accomplish the goal here. The pepper + 2 tablespoons of broth did not make enough ingredient to be successfully blended. Also, why rinse the blender? You will have these same ingredients in the soup, so just precede to next step. Finally, why use a blender at all? I suggest you use a handheld immersion blender - easier & less clean-up, too.

So, beginning with Step 2...

2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is tender (but not brown) about 8 to 10 minutes.

3. Add the corn kernels, 2 1/2 cups chicken broth, a little salt and pepper (fresh ground, please) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the corn is tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

4. In the blender, working in batches, puree the soup until smooth, adjusting the consistency with water (chicken broth or half & half = more flavor) as necessary. (Alternately, use a handheld immersion blender directly in the saucepan.)

5. Serve the soup with a drizzle of cream and the poblano puree (separately); sprinkled with cilantro. (I eliminated the poblano & cream, but substituted Tabasco sauce on the table so guests could adjust the "heat" to their personal taste)

"Jersey Fresh" Corn Soup with Tabasco drizzle
 Note: I made the soup in the morning, refrigerated it, then warmed it over medium heat for dinner. The "Jersey Fresh" corn was very sweet, so the Tabasco sauce was a great complement!  SERVES 4.

INNsider Tip:
An immersion blender is a kitchen tool used for blending soups, sauces, and other liquids. It is basically a stick with blender blades at the end of it. An immersion blender is inserted into a container of liquid, like a pot of soup, for example.

Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
Scarborough Inn
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"OCEAN CITY FISHING CLUB" CELEBRATES 100 YEARS

"Ocean City Fishing Club" celebrates 100 Years
It was a blustery day when we went to Open House at the Ocean City Fishing Club pier.  The club is celebrating 100 years of existence this summer (1913-2013) and allowing the public an unprecedented look around the historic structure.

The pier extends 635-feet out into the Atlantic Ocean at 14th Street.  According to the OCFC, it is the only surfside fishing pier in Ocean City and the "oldest, continuously operating fishing club in the nation!"  In commemoration of this historic milestone, the OC Fishing Club pier is pictured on this year's beach badges.  In addition, there is a special exhibition at the OC Historical Museum (July to mid-October) and a Centennial Surf Fishing Tournament to be held in October.

Members welcoming visitors to Open House
When we visited, various club members escorted us around the facility and shared information about the history of the structure, upcoming special events, and their ongoing community service activities. A couple of anglers also demonstrated their skill at surf fishing.  It is clear that OCFC members not only share a love of fishing and Ocean City, but also are proud of this 100th. anniversary.

Scarborough Inn guests can stroll past the pier by walking south along the boardwalk; you will see it perched over the ocean at 14th. Street. While there, you may want to take a photo of one of the most frequently photographed sites on the island.

A small Drum Fish variety - caught & released
We enjoyed being able to visit and to see the Ocean City Boardwalk from "out at sea" - a unique and special prospective for those who attended the recent open house. Thanks OCFC!

INNsider Tip:
To learn more about the Ocean City Fishing Club, visit their website at www.oceancityfishingclub.com

 Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
Scarborough Inn
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast

Monday, July 8, 2013

BEACH GAME IDEAS? HOW ABOUT "CLAM DRAIN"

Join the "Clamshell Pitching" Revival
Scarborough Inn guests love the Ocean City beach! Especially since it's only 1 1/2 blocks stroll from our B&B and there's a Bathhouse with refreshing shower awaiting their return. And.....delicious "sweet" and "savory" Afternoon Refreshments in the Butler's Pantry (after 4PM) to anticipate, too.

But I digress.

While enjoying the beach, guests might enjoy playing a beach game as a diversion from sunning, enjoying a "beach read," or swimming. The idea of pitching clam shells was undoubtedly created by inventive beach-goers who used the tools at hand - shells - and created a fun game that all ages could play.  The object in clamshell pitching is to hit a target - a hole dug in the sand.  But today, it is difficult to find the right shells on the beach anymore. (Beach-raking and beach-replenishment projects are the suspected culprits.)

So, Joe McGettigan and Ken Fabianovicz created CLAM DRAIN: The Shell Game with four custom-made shells in spiffy colors, and the rules - all packaged in a net bag.  Real clamshells (from First St, beach in Ocean City) are used as the mold for the urethane-resin game pieces.  Naturally, they display all the natural flaws and irregularities of real shells.  The experts claim that the very best time to play the game is two hours before and after low tide when you can use the packed sand as a playing field/ game court.

CLAM DRAIN: The Shell Game is now available in the Scarborough Inn Gift Shop for $17.99 and would make an excellent souvenir or gift for other beach-lovers.  Recently, we sold game sets that were used as favors for a beach wedding!

McGettigan says, "We're pulling a game from the past and preserving it for future generations." 

Rumor has it that there will be a Clam Drain Tournament in Ocean City in the near future - watch for details!

INNsider Tip:
Mention this blog post & you'll save $1.00 off the cost of a CLAM DRAIN game purchased from our inn gift shop (subject to availability).

Carol & Gus, Innkeepers
Scarborough Inn
an Ocean City NJ Bed and Breakfast