Friday night marked a cold and windy start to the Memorial Day weekend. But Long Beach Island has seen its share of dreary days recently, and not even a bit of lousy weather could keep its residents and visitors from crowding around the tavern at The Dutchman’s Brauhaus on Cedar Bonnet Island that night. They weren’t just celebrating the holiday or looking for a warm place to converse with friends. They were also there to support one of their favorite local restaurants as its new sign blinked to life after losing the old one to Superstorm Sandy.
“The sign was demolished to pieces because of Sandy. We lost our name,” said Rick Schmid, a co-owner of Dutchman’s.
Though upset by the sign’s destruction, Schmid said he and his family are grateful the building did not suffer any further damage from the storm.
“I’ll take sign damage any day compared to water in the building; we were blessed with no water,” he said.
But many of the restaurant’s loyal customers expressed grief over the sign’s destruction via The Dutchman’s Facebook page. To show their appreciation for the eatery’s loyal fans, the Schmids allowed its Facebook friends to decide whether or not the new sign should include a “The” before “Dutchman’s.” Fans voted to keep the sign the way it had been for the past 41 years, as plain old “Dutchman’s.”
“I think people are tired of change due to Sandy. I think they wanted to see something consistent,” said Schmid.
The new sign, a stainless steel, LED-lit billboard created by Effective Sign Works in Burlington Township, was placed on the restaurant’s rooftop on Wednesday, May 22. It was lit at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, as Schmid’s son, Max Schmid, 21, stood beside it, braving the cold wind.
Max, who now works as the restaurant’s upstairs and dining room manager, remembered hanging out at the restaurant with the bar server as a young kid while his dad worked his daily shift. He said he also remembered visiting his grandparents, who resided in a five-bedroom apartment above the tavern. The old apartment now functions as an office and storage area.
“Seeing the (Dutchman’s) sign as a kid always reminded me that I was almost home,” said Max, who grew up on the Island. “It meant a lot to me, and I think it means the same thing for other people who live here or visit. There are just certain billboards that people remember. I think the (Dutchman’s) sign just sticks in people’s minds. It’s a monumental sign; people know they’re almost at the beach,” he added.
The new sign sits 4 inches higher than before, and its letters are 2 inches taller than the original ones. It can now be seen from the first trestle bridge on the Causeway.
“That’s just what the doctor ordered,” said Rick, viewing the lit sign from the rooftop for the first time. “I don’t want the sign to blow down again. I’d like to see it stand another 41 or more years,” he added.
Those who visited the tavern during the lighting of the sign will receive some sort of memorabilia keepsake in the future. Rick said he has not yet decided what to give.
— Kelley Anne Essinger
This article was published in The SandPaper.