As the sun rose off the coast of Ocean City a few weeks ago, the new day brought a new eatery to life. The story behind Hooked on Breakfast, at 916 Asbury Ave., has all the makings of a Jersey Shore beach read. The journey of Alicia and Keven Stauffer’s initial meeting, the building of a family, and the dream of owning their own restaurant has been one of passion, focus, determination, hope and good timing. The result is a friendly and welcoming space offering breakfast and lunch in one the nation’s most family-focused cities.
The Stauffers met as teenagers working at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House. Keven worked in the kitchen while Alicia waited tables. They began dating 24 years ago, have been happily married for 20 years and have three children: Taylor, Drew and Brielle.
Over a dozen years ago they started dreaming about opening a restaurant. In 2017, they put a plan together and actively started looking for suitable locations for their restaurant. Keven’s hometown of Ocean City was their first choice. It is a family-friendly town with great schools, plus the entire family loves the beach. While there is a large influx of seasonal visitors, Ocean City is still vibrant during the shoulder seasons of fall and spring, with year-round local residents who are supportive of business in the community.
As luck would have it, a location became available that allowed for the Stauffers to purchase a building on Asbury Avenue, in the heart of the downtown. The location has provided the business space and the opportunity to live in Ocean City year round. Hooked on Breakfast is in the center hub of many of the activities that Ocean City offers to the community throughout the year, including block parties, parades, holiday festivities and more. Foot traffic and available parking within walking distance is an added bonus.
When they sold their house in Linwood, they jumped into building out the restaurant and their living space believing it would all work out, and it has gone very much according to plan. The couple was hopeful Keven's cooking would win people over. They counted on the support of family and friends, and feel lucky to be welcomed by the city and community. They were excited about the opportunity to hire a staff of hardworking dedicated people.
Hooked on Breakfast is serving both breakfast and lunch. The couple made this decision for several reasons. Most importantly, they want to be able to have family time together outside of work. While the business model gives them the time to connect as a family in the evening, they also plan to offer private parties as catered events after regular service hours. The couple hopes baby and bridal showers, as well as retirement parties, anniversary parties and birthday dinners will be held at the restaurant.
The Stauffers feel this is a full family endeavor. Selling their home on the mainland, moving the family onto the island and living through a year-long renovation involved the whole family. Although at times difficult, the couple reports the children handled it very well. All three are working with them. Taylor is working at the register, Drew cooking with Keven, and Brielle is helping as a hostess in training.
The Stauffers have received tremendous support from their friends and the community since the restaurant opened its doors. Outdoor dining and takeout has worked well, allowing the team at Hooked to ramp up the operation. Repeat customers have returned four or five times already in their first two weeks. Feedback from customers and staff has been positive. The couple is grateful to their neighbor, Liz Beasley of PLAAY Yoga, for helping them be more successful with outdoor dining by sharing sidewalk space.
Keven’s favorite item to cook is the Chunky Monkey Pancakes, while his favorite item to eat is the Deputy Chief DiMarco Sandwich. While Alicia has trouble picking one favorite, she has enjoyed “testing” Keven’s recipes for over 20 years. Her top picks include Sticky Bun French Toast, Sweet Breeze Waffles, and the Summer Salad with Grilled Chicken. As for the Stauffer children; Brielle loves the Mickey Pancakes with chocolate chips. Taylor's Toast, a stuffed French Toast tops Taylor’s list, and Drew cannot get enough of the Pulled Pork Burger
The Stauffers welcome everyone to Hooked on Breakfast and hope customers find the meals, made with fresh ingredients, to be delicious. The restaurant has a full breakfast and lunch menu that offers homemade items with something for everyone in the family. They strive to provide friendly service and hope people feel very welcome.
And so the story that started on an island, in a breakfast eatery, created a loving family and a family business, continues to be written at Hooked on Breakfast.