FOOD & DRINK > RESTAURANT REVIEWS

Longport’s Ozzie’s 


Granola French toast, oatmeal waffles, deli fare and more in this unique year-round eatery. 


By Frank Gabriel

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Nov. 2, 2012

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Longport, New Jersey is 
anything but the typical Jersey shore community.


 

Tucked into the southwestern corner of Absecon Island, barely one-and-a-half miles square, this narrow spit of land still manages to encompass some of the most valuable real estate on the East Coast.


The borough even possesses a quirky, storm-related geography; its initial 10 blocks disappeared during a winter gale in 1916.


So, it should really come as no surprise that Longport’s signature eatery – in fact, its only year-round food operation – is just as far from ordinary.


Ozzie’s, at 2401 Atlantic Ave., has been in business “as we know it” since 1952, according to owner/operator Likie Nika.


Founded in 1948 as a small neighborhood market, it was expanded four years later by the Lenzsch family to include a luncheonette.


In keeping with that theme, Nika, who has owned the sparkling retro-style restaurant for 12 years, is no standard-issue proprietor either.


Born in Greece, she served as an aide to Democratic representative Mendel Davis of her home state, South Carolina, from 1975 through ’79.


Married 33 years, she and husband George met during that D.C. era, when he was similarly employed in the office of California Senator S.I. Hayakawa.


After relocating to southern New Jersey in 1980, Nika obtained a position with the office of Ocean City’s Bill Hughes — a 10-term House member and eventual Ambassador to Panama – lasting 14 years until his retirement.


But it was at the turn of the last century when the energetic Nika, at the urging of her husband – formerly a maitre d’ himself – found her own haven.


The little café had been lovingly restored by then-owner, retail magnate George Siganos, to its original 1950’s decor.


With a 10-top lunch counter and tables for another 40, it offered an anachronistic, small-town seashore charm.


Since taking over, Nika has nearly doubled that seating capacity with the removal of a wall to create another, separate space including cozy booths along the furthest wall.


Breakfast, always the lead player here, includes several signature items.


Most notable among these is Chef Guadalupe Quintero’s namesake, Lupe’s Day Break, poached eggs atop an English muffin with Canadian bacon, cheddar cheese and salsa.


That final item, which has become wildly popular with customers, is the product of Mexico City native/kitchen staffer Yesem Alvarez.


The oatmeal pancakes are another house specialty.


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