Tag Archives: Donovan’s Reef

Scene Around: Donovan’s Opening Day Icon Sighting

Photo/Grace Cangemi Ryan

What would a Donovan’s Reef reopening be without a spotting of its unofficial, or official, mascot — the iconic guy about town everyone knows as Dizzy Dave?

Well, lots of area folks were there for Sunday’s (delayed from Saturday) grand reopening. And, while it was pretty packed and running into Dave was tantamount to playing a giant game of Where’s Waldo, one devout Donovan’s fan, Gerry Ryan, found him and struck the classic pose.

Ryan’s wife, former Red Bank Councilwoman Grace Cangemi Ryan, grabbed the photo op and shared it with Rumson-Fair Haven Retrospect.

Rumson Mayor John Ekdahl told us he was there as well, but, no roving photographers seemed to capture him, either. He said he did not see Dizzy. “It’s surprising that I didn’t,” Ekdahl said on Memorial Day. “He’s pretty hard to miss!”

The new place got a thumbs up from the mayor. The Ryans and all other locals and fans we spoke with gave the new Donovan’s rave reviews.

Now, where’s Dizzy Dave?

 

Retro Donovan’s Devastation, Memories

It was like a scene out of The Wizard of Oz, with a wicked witch of a storm dropping a house on the spirits of Rumson-Fair Haven area locals. It was the scene of what many might call the Superstorm Sandy crime that devastated the Sea Bright peninsula and wiped out a decades-long iconic spot — Donovan’s Reef.

When the coast was literally clear of the storm’s wrath, locals flocked to the site to see what Sandy had spit out and left behind. They cried, reminisced, meditated on the jetty and gathered tiny scraps of memories made at the longtime RFHers’ hang-out.

The Retro Pic(s) of the Day take us back to Donovan’s in the aftermath of Sandy.

Laying on the ground were decades worth of remnants from a hut by the sea where many milestone memories were made. On the cusp  of the iconic spot’s reopening, people wonder if the new and expanded hut by the sea will be a place to DO it again? Time will tell. Locals are poised for the fresh start. But, they always seem to look back on the good ol Donovan’s days.

What is your favorite Donovan’s memory from years gone by?

— Elaine Van Develde

— Photos/Elaine Van Develde

Resurrection: Donovan’s Debut

It’s day that many Rumson-Fair Haven area locals have been anticipating since the ravaging dawn of 2012’s Superstorm Sandy — the reopening of the devastated iconic Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright.

After many fits and starts, that day, save for any unforeseen issues, now appears to be set. It’s Saturday, a Twitter post confirmed, though with a praying hands emoji.

“4+ years ago we were washed away 😪 thanks Sandy,” a post on the Donovan’s Facebook page says. “NOW, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You can sit at the inside bar & take in this amazing view! Can’t wait to see you! Hope for no delays and we open MDW!”

Take a look at the progression since Sandy in the below photos …

— Photos/Elaine Van Develde

Focus: The Donovan’s Rebuild

When it comes to the rebuilding (and expansion) of the iconic Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright, things are looking up … and out.

It will be five years ago this October that the mainstay locals’ summer hangout and RFH reunion spot was tossed and flattened to bits by Superstorm Sandy.

So its rebuild has been a particularly long-awaited one by townies and Rumson-Fair Haven area folks.

The plan is for the new, improved and indestructible Donovan’s to be open for business by the start of the summer season.

Much progress has been made to date.

Take a look and see for yourself …

— Elaine Van Develde

Retro Post-Sandy Donovan’s

There’s a lot of buzz about the long-awaited rebuild of Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright after it’s untimely, untamed demise due to Superstorm Sandy’s merciless wrath in October of 2012.

Well, Donovan’s will be getting back in step with its summer traditions in a literally grande way.

So, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day offer a glimpse back to a winter about four years ago when Donovan’s was in bits and people came to mourn what was or was not left of the iconic hangout on the beach.

Take a look back and remember …

— Elaine Van Develde

Donovan’s Reef after Sandy
Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Sightseers looking at what’s left and mourning the loss of Donovan’s Reef after Sandy
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

Focus: Bringing Donovan’s Reef Back

It’s been more than five years since Superstorm Sandy tossed and flattened the iconic Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright.

In the aftermath of the storm in which the Atlantic Ocean met the Shrewsbury River over the small peninsula town, all that was left of Donovan’s was a tossed building, a shell of the main bar, restaurant equipment, torn up pavement and wood — lots of wood — in scattered piles. What remained of its sign were the letters D O … found on the ground by Mayor Dina Long.

The letters became symbolic of the can-do attitude Sea Bright residents and business owners embodied in the tough months, even years, of rebuilding ahead.

There was a year without Donovan’s. Then there were a few years of an open Tiki bar on the beach.

Now Donovan’s is coming back — bigger, higher and stronger — for its first summer as a rebuilt area legend.

Take a look at the progress so far …

— Elaine Van Develde

Retro Sandy-Ravaged Donovan’s

People walk the sea wall by Donovan's Reef in Sea Bright after Sandy, checking out what's left of the iconic spot. Photo/Elaine Van Develde
People walk the sea wall by Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright after Sandy, checking out what’s left of the iconic spot.
Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Donovan's Reef after Sandy 2012 Photo/Elaine Van Develde
Donovan’s Reef after Sandy 2012
Photo/Elaine Van Develde

It was four years ago that the havoc wreaked by Superstorm Sandy left monumental wreckage in its wake in Sea Bright.

Once the ghost-town kind of calm settled in after the storm, people flocked from all over to witness the devastating damage done first hand.

One iconic spot that Sandy decimated, hoisting up its buildings and fiercely slamming them down onto twisted tar, was Sea Bright’s Donovan’s Reef.

Parts of the place were severed, flattened, scattered and, well, relocated by the merciless, angry surge of wind and surf.  A few remnants remained. People walked the sea wall to get a last look at scattered bits and pieces — mementos of what once was the gathering spot for generations of so many who grew up in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

A piece of the sign out front with the remaining letters DO are what Sea Bright Mayor Dina Long clung to as she spoke to residents at a forum at RFH after the storm, updating them and giving her famous “DO” speech.

“Do is what we’re gonna do,” she said on that damp, cloudy Nov. 2 of 2012. “We’re gonna rebuild our town sustainably for the future a better Sea Bright than you saw before and not a different Sea Bright. Sea Bright is not gone! Sea Bright is it’s people!”

Donovan’s owners have since vowed to reopen. That is still the plans. The Tiki bar on the beach has been running for the past couple of summers.

— Elaine Van Develde

Retro RFH Class of ’80 Reunion

RFH Class of 1980 35th reunion at Salt Creek Grille Photo/Steve H-Minus Facebook post screenshot
RFH Class of 1980 35th reunion at Salt Creek Grille
Photo/Facebook post screenshot

Yes, the RFH Class of 1980 reunited after 35 years (OK, some still hang out together) over the weekend — or some of the class, anyway.

When these guys and girls graduated, the top song was Blondie’s Call Me and number two was Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. Can you guess what number three was? Hint: the singer was another blonde female.

Class members tell us they were out and about at the classic Donovan’s Reef Tiki bar stop, where all RFH reunions traditionally start — well, except when the Class of ’78 had its reunion 10 months after Hurricane Sandy.

And the main event was held at Salt Creek Grille in Rumson.

So, in honor of the RFH Class of ’80, the Retro Pic of the Day is one of the gathering of classmates at Salt Creek.

Speaking of classmates, do you know which local official is an RFH Class of ’80 alum? Shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out.

Cheers, Class of ’80! Here’s to another 35! Well, five? Ten?

Thanks to Steve H-Minus for taking this pic and sharing it!

 

Retro Chillin’ With Donovan’s

There are a couple of things people in the Rumson-Fair Haven area couldn’t wait for after a long, snowy winter — summer and the reopening of Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright.

Well, both have happened. In fact, Monday was the hottest day of the summer yet, according to National Weather Service stats. And Donovan’s Tiki bar is back on the beach.

So, just to cool you down a little and serve as a gratitude nudge, the Retro Pic(s) of the Day offer a glimpse back to a cool snowfall on what was left of Donovan’s (which was pretty much flattened buildings and the Tiki hut) the winter after Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of the iconic place.

The sky had an orange hue that day that seemed to paint it with hope. It made snow look invitingly warm and for what was a chilling scene for Donovan’s devotees.

Well, it’s back and sporting the literal sign of the undaunted “Sandy Who?”

Donovan’s has brought a lot of friends and couples together over the years. It’s a tradition, really, for Rumson-Fair Haven area people. Did you meet your boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, BFF or some other significant other or others in your life at Donovan’s? Yes? Of course, yes!

Tell us your story and send us your Donovan’s pics or email us at evd@rfhretro.com. We’re putting together a Donovan’s Connection slideshow.

— Elaine Van Develde

Sea Bright Stairway to Donovan’s?

[WRG id=3490]
It’s May. Countdown to Memorial Day weekend has begun and the unofficial start of summer is not far off. But whether or not Donovan’s Reef will make its comeback with summer is not yet clear.

The lot of the iconic Sea Bright spot has been cleared. The Hurricane Sandy-ravaged bungalow is gone. That all happened, after a static period, in December of last year.

Last word, according to Donovan’s Facebook page, was in February of this year. In answer to a patron’s query of whether or not the bar would be back and exactly when, ownership said, “Yes. Things are moving forward, just don’t have specifics yet!”

Since then, not a word. Only speculation. After Sandy, there was a time when a sale was pending. Then that changed. And in the summer of 2013, owners were saying that it would be back in 2014.

Plans for a larger Donovan’s, replete with on-beach Tiki bars and tree houses, were approved, after some delay, in 2014. And there was a plan to at least partially open with Tiki bars on the beach that year, as a teaser.

A Tiki bar and thatch umbrella have remained on the beach since.

The cleared lot and sea wall are fenced in. Small remnants of the original Donovan’s remain. And there’s a relatively new staircase over the sea wall to the beach, where Donovan’s deck and staircase to the beach was before Sandy. Another staircase is a few feet away for beach access.

One of the owners, Dr. Robert Carducci, died in February of 2014. The other is Bob Phillips.

Phillips was not reachable for comment.

There have been rumors of sales bandied back and forth for years.

But, as of now, the above gallery offers a glimpse into its present state — looking far from ready for an end of May, or even summer, opening.

Could that change?

Rumson-Fair Haven Restrospect will keep you updated. 

 
— Elaine Van Develde

Donovan’s, Dunes & Diehards

— Photos by Elaine Van Develde

Sunday was true to its namesake. The sun was out … and bright.

So, people hit the beach in Sea Bright — a sign that spring had finally sprung.

While the sun was like a siren calling all beach bums back, upon hitting the beach, there was a chill in the blustery air.

So, some stuck it out, bundled up and taking advantage of the wind with kites, others abandoned the beach-going idea.

However, there were a few things to take notice of — like the bit of progress being made to bring Donovan’s Reef back, and the dunes sprouting up all over.

Donovan’s, the longtime Sea Bright summer classic for Rumson-Fair Haven area people and beyond, was flattened by Hurricane Sandy.

There were all sorts of rumors circulating that it had been sold, then the ownership announced that it would be rebuilt with a target date of last Memorial Day.

There’s a Tiki hut and accompanying thatch umbrella at the base of new staircases and it looks like there may be some hope for some sort of resurrection this summer. We’ll see.

And the dunes that were planted across the beach — some by the Fair Haven Garden Club — to stave off erosion are really taking hold.

Check out our photo gallery above for a glimpse into the day and the progress. Click on any photo to enlarge.