In Memoriam: Sea Bright ‘Anjelica’s’ Restaurant Owner, Ray Lena, 76

The owner of longtime Sea Bright restaurant Anjelica’s, Ray Lena, of Long Branch, passed away unexpectedly in St. Maarten after a brief illness on Feb. 16. He was 76.

“In 1996 Ray and (his wife) Phyllis opened the beloved Anjelica’s Restaurant in Sea Bright where he continued to share his love of food, conversation and having a good time. He loved his staff and had cherished, long-standing employees. Ray loved a good concert, a summertime Jersey tomato salad, planting a garden, a Coca Cola with a lot of ice, a simple bowl of pasta, watching sports and jeopardy, time spent at the restaurant with his crew or his family, making memories with all his grandchildren, winters spent in St. Maarten with friends, the casino, and of course, a cigarette. He was one of a kind and will be missed beyond measure.”

Loved ones of Ray Lena in his obituary

More about Ray Lena …

Born in the Bronx, NY to Julia and Reno Lena in 1947, the Lena family moved to Long Branch where Ray attended Star of the Sea elementary school. He graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in the Lincroft section of Middletown where he excelled at baseball and basketball and won a state championship.

Ray then graduated from St. Peter’s College in Jersey City. After college graduation, he marched with Bobby Kennedy, attended the 1968 DNC in Chicago protesting the Vietnam war, and hitchhiked cross-country and Central America several times with dear friends. In 1971 he married Susan Newman and traveled Europe the summer of 1972. They welcomed a son Jesse in May of 1973.

Ray had many professions including a high-school teacher, social worker, sports writer at the Asbury Park Press and Sports Information director at Monmouth College before buying New Brighton Dry Cleaners in (the) West End (section of Long Branch).

While at the Asbury Park Press, he spent summers traveling from Maine to Virginia with his son fishing, camping, surfing and attending Yankees games.

In 1984 he married Phyllis, his high-school sweetheart, and a year later they welcomed their daughter Anjelica.

Ray soon decided to pursue his lifelong love of food and cooking and began working as a cook at Jimmy’s Italian Restaurant in Asbury Park. Simultaneously he operated the restaurant at Elberon Bathing Club which he successfully ran for more than 20 years, making many lifelong friends. Anjelica’s was opened in 1996.

Ray was predeceased by: his father, Reno Lena and mother, Julia Marvuglio; siblings, Joseph and Janet; and wife, Phyllis.

He is survived by: his son, Jesse (Linda); daughter, Anjelica; and grandchildren, Julia, Jack, Grace, Charlie and Julien.

In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory may be made to Make the Road New Jersey, a NJ-based Immigration Rights Non-Profit Organization.

— Edited obituary prepared by family via Fiore Funeral Home