For the past dozen years Tomatoe’s has epitomized the modern elegance of Margate’s Amherst Avenue business district, and the Budesa Brothers have been part of its hip nightlife scene for the past six.
Amherst Avenue has been the site of a lively social scene for decades, especially during the summer months, but today the bayside stretch of Margate is a world away from what it was like 30 years ago.
The area appealed more to the frat-house crowds through the 1980s, with a raucous nightlife vibe dominated by shot-and-beer joints. It’s since been eclipsed by contemporary havens like Tomatoe’s, with Asian- and California-influenced cuisine combined with fine wines and spirits in a cozy yet upbeat atmosphere.
The nightlife side of Amherst Avenue has been through an evolution too, and Tomatoe’s is at its forefront with DJs and live entertainment nightly. Weekends generally rule the roost where nightlife applies, but one of the best days to savor Tomatoe’s flavor is Monday, when the Budesa Brothers entertain from 7-10:30pm.
The brothers are Rob Budesa on acoustic and electric guitars and Rich Budesa on piano and organ, and they’re accompanied by trumpeter and vocalist Gino Cortopassi. The three are now in their sixth summer at Tomatoe’s and, while their sound is rooted in the legendary Philadelphia jazz-organ combos, they meld to the prevailing mood of the crowd on any particular Monday night.
“We’ll do anything from jazz to rock to dance music and people really seem to enjoy it,” says Rich Budesa.
“We’ll have people get up and dance or just chill out and listen to the music — we have a good time no matter what kind of crowd it is. If it’s an older crowd we can do Sinatra, if it’s younger we’ll doing more pop and dance music. I think that’s why [owners] Karen [Sherman] and Carmen [Rone] use us on New Year’s Eve, because we can literally switch from AC/DC to Tony Bennett to Earth, Wind and Fire or whatever the crowd wants to hear.”
The Budesa Brothers play year-round at Tomatoe’s on Monday nights.
“We’ll see more regulars in the winter than in the summer, which may sound kind of strange, but some [of the locals] don’t like the big crowds and tend to show up more often in the off-season,” says Rich Budesa. “In the summer it’s much more of a mix of locals and weekenders or vacationers.”
Now back to serving 60 wines by the glass and serving upward of 700 guests on busy weekend nights, you could almost believe nothing ever happened.
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