The Chicken or the Egg Crackin’ All Winter Long

By MARIA SCANDALE | Oct 30, 2019
Photo by: Maria Scandale

Beach Haven — For the first time, The Chicken or the Egg (“The Chegg”) in Beach Haven will be open year ’round, that’s all winter, and the news is getting a big reaction.

“Next to my wedding day, this may be the best day of my life,” wrote a man from Lanoka Harbor, after learning on social media.

“The prayers of all locals have been answered,” wrote another among a legion of more than 2,000 Facebook page commenters on the announcement.

The stoplights are off, the summer lines are gone, so it’s a good time for anyone who’s around to visit restaurants whose lights will be beacons in the off-season.

Last Friday afternoon, all ages filtered in to fill up many of the seats at what’s normally a slower time of the day for restaurants. When night falls, the crowd will mix in more school-age dates and groups, from all around.

“We’ve got a really strong mainland following,” Mark Cohen, an owner/manager, said, “all the high schools – Pinelands, Barnegat, certainly Southern. So I feel pretty good that we’ll be able to make a go of it.”

What has worked since 1991, Cohen said when asked, is putting out good food at affordable prices, “and not taking ourselves too seriously.”

What days will the Chegg be open?

“The ones that end in ‘y’” Cohen answered.

Winter hours starting Wednesday, Oct. 30 will be: Monday-Thursday 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Friday 8 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m.- 9 p.m., and Sunday 7 a.m.-8 p.m.

What would be mandatory to keep on the menu if the menu did get shortened in the middle of winter?

“Chicken and eggs” was the answer with a straight face.

Seriously, the award-winning, all-day breakfasts and the wings – from “ludicrous”-ly hot on down – put the Chegg menu on the map, and on The Cooking Channel. There’s a choice to “buffalize” anything on the menu with one of the 18 sauces and a side of blue cheese or ranch.

“For now we’re going to play it by ear and continue running our full menu,” said Cohen. “I have a feeling that come January or February we might scale it back a bit, just because there won’t be as many people here and that way we can stay in stride with the time of year.

Wings bring the heat, but think warmth for other winter food trends. Cohen is thinking Chegg chicken chili.

“We’ll get into more wintry type of foods and we’ll be running specials.  We’ll be more soup-centric coming to winter and probably do a couple different types of chili. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a chicken chili come out this winter,” Cohen hinted, “because it’s right up our alley here. It’s white, and we pull the chicken; it’s not ground chicken. It’s really tasty.”

“We don’t want to lose our personality; we still want to be who we are,” Cohen added, “but being voted the No. 1 (white) chowder at Chowderfest, we’re obviously going to have chowder all winter, for sure.”

Menu items have a way of combining several favorites to the point of irresistibility. Garlic pub fries, sloppy fries, peanut butter banana pancakes, vegetarian Caprese wrap, Carolina pulled pork, Thanksgiving feast on not just Thanksgiving, topped with a cinnamon roll ice cream sandwich – it’s all there.

New on the omelet menu is a pierogi omelet made with mashed potatoes – talk about winter comfort food – or a lumberjack omelet containing fried chicken tenders, bacon and pepper jack cheese, with country sausage gravy and a biscuit. The new Reuben omelet is loaded with house-made corned beef and the rest of what makes a Reuben.

The animated chicken dishes move over enough to bring in burgers and more beef. A slow-roasted prime rib dinner is $15.99. Fancy Meatloaf is “kind of like Mom used to make,” says the menu, but with beer-battered onion rings along with the mashed potatoes, vegetable, and a balsamic beef glaze ($12.29.)

“Gone Fishin” is its own corner on the menu, with jumbo lump crab cakes, a Seafood Feast and more.

Beach Haven resident and regular customer Betty Ortiz is expecting to gain 20 pounds because The Chegg will be open this winter.

“I’ve been coming here for years. Everybody here knows you by name. Even if you don’t even know who they are, they know your name,” she said.

Patrons like Kate Ally, of Manahawkin, with Pegg Dowd said they didn’t get there all summer, but made it easily Friday now that “it’s not as crowded.” The young kids knew exactly what they wanted: Connor “a waffle with powdered sugar,” and Sadie, “a waffle with no powdered sugar, and bacon.”

Gretchen and John Coyle, of Beach Haven, enjoy the experience. “I think most people our age found out about it through their grandkids leaving leftovers in the refrigerator,” Gretchen said, since it started out as a kids’ place to go after work or after a night out, and now many times it’s more multigenerational.

“One night I was there with four generations of some friends,” Coyle added. “The grandmother was not fond of wings, so the waitress told her that her own grandmother always had chocolate chip pancakes. So, that is what she ordered and everyone from a 1½-year-old to 85 were happy!

“The food is good, and there’s something to eat for everyone.”

See the whole creative menu online. The Chegg is at 207 North Bay Ave., Beach Haven, phone 609-492-3695.


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