Pleasantville cafe sprouts up with amazing fare and a touching American story
Ask Webster’s Dictionary to define “entrepreneur” and you’ll get: “Whoever initiates, on his own account an enterprise in which others are employed and risks are taken.”
For a living example, visit Jose Marin and wife Martha of Pleasantville’s thoroughly unexpected Mambo Cafe.
That alone doesn’t do this Colombian-born pair justice; they also own and operate a modern, Latino-oriented supermarket called La Cosecha (“The Arbor” in Spanish) just across Decatur Avenue along with a smaller “bodega” — their original venture — of the same name on Georgia Avenue in Atlantic City.
Meeting Jose on a warm, sunny late summer morning, one can’t help being taken by the crimson-haired fortysomething’s youthful enthusiasm. The man seems constantly in motion; greeting arriving patrons, acknowledging them upon exit, gently directing employees or screening calls on his relentless cell phone.
The restaurant itself is a gorgeous little haven — bathed in soft tropical shades of orange, lime and yellow — with artsy interiors providing customers room and opportunities for privacy.
Mambo Cafe’s creation is a classic tale of immigrants pursuing their dreams in America.
Jose, native to South American metropolis Medellin, arrived in this country circa 1985.
He initially found work as a blackjack dealer at Resorts locally and then moved for one year to The Crystal Palace in the Bahamas.
“Then I got homesick and came back,” he explains, which fortuitously led to meeting Martha, also from Medellin, but strangers prior, in 1990.
The couple married one year later and have two children: sons Matthew, 13, and Jake, 10.
How they went from one little grocery manned by five family members to an empire employing nearly 80 people is nothing short of inspirational.
A friend wanted to sell his Ventnor store and despite admitting that “We knew it was hard, grocery stores are,” Jose and Martha — who similarly aspired to run her own business — bought in.
Successful there and expanding to Atlantic City for over a decade, the couple eventually purchased Pleasantville real estate at two corners of Decatur and Main.
The food market was originally located here, but when La Cosecha expanded south in August of 2011, the current Mambo Cafe served only as storage.
With that desirable frontage costing “18K a year in taxes” Jose began considering other use of the retail space. Initial options included a pharmacy, a discount store or rental to professionals.
But it was cooking which truly stirred his soul.
“Every Sunday I cooked a big breakfast for my wife and kids and they always tell me “This is the best day of the week.”
Ask Henry Zhang, the baby-faced 40-year-old owner of Margate’s midtown restaurant Miyako, to explain the origin of his restaurant’s name and he will quickly tell you “The capital city, like Washington D.C.” Go to an online source and the definition becomes broader, drawing from three separate Japanese words: Mi (beautiful) ya (night) ko (child) — making it also a popular name for girls.
Seventeen months after changing its name and re-branding itself as an affordable casino catering to a largely local market, the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel is showing a new side.
Walk into the vestibule of Ocean City’s venerable Chatterbox Restaurant — open at its current location since moving from across 9th Street way back in 1942 — and look down. A foot or so above the floor, a thick black line is etched into the doorway wall, denoting the high-water mark of last autumn’s Superstorm Sandy.
In celebration of our 40th anniversary, over the next several months you will be reading about and hearing about special plans for the occasion. In this week’s cover story, we offer 40 things we love about the Atlantic City region.
In an Atlantic City market crowded with big-shouldered, corporate-backed steak houses, Max’s Steakhouse — recently re-christened Max’s Prime — at Trump Plaza remains unique.
On July 11, Tropicana Casino & Resort will unveil the most ambitious restaurant expansion this town has seen in a great many years, as six separate eateries make their debut at the same time.
Sitting quietly with Sofia for a few minutes at the close of our interview, pleasantly noshing on a mezze plate of sticky whole figs, golden apricots and a smooth Bulgarian feta cheese, it makes sense when she says of herself and her relations: “We breathe restaurants, and hospitality is in our veins.”
Happy Hour, 11am-6pm daily, drink and appetizer specials. Conveniently located in the heart of Margate City, on the corner of Ventnor & Essex Avenues, Bocca’s completely customized interior and exterior represent an investment of over $1.5 million in renovations. Offering three unique atmospheres to comfortably accommodate guests and their individual dining needs, guests can choose from a casual yet modern pizzeria, formal dining room, or intimate bar & lounge area. At Bocca, guests can order anything they want, anywhere they want. Live music weekends, 9:30pm...
Area casinos provide opportunities to win cash and prizes, as well as offering special room rates and other upgrades and amenities based on your casino play
Authentic Mexican food. Extensive menu. Open 10am-10pm. Take out and free delivery....
Florida-based troubadour Jimmy Buffett has built an empire of resorts, restaurants and retail, all dedicated to the finer points of his laid-back Caribbean lifestyle. A quartet of those enterprises — the flagship Margaritaville restaurant, the beach-fronting Landshark Bar and Grill, the 5 O’Clock Somewhere bar and the Margaritaville Casino — arrived at Resorts Atlantic City earlier this year.
Johnny Liccio is a rather busy guy these days. Already running a pair of successful Margate eateries — an eponymous full-service restaurant and an authentic south Philly style corner sandwich stand — along with wife, Joanne, the duo now counts the days until a third complementary food enterprise joins their family’s portfolio.
Genuine Jamaican cuisine has been a missing treasure locally for quite some time. Sure, lots of places serve a perfunctory, ersatz version of jerk chicken, but we challenge you to try and find less-common island fare like brown stew chicken, curried goat, callaloo or Caribbean-style oxtails.