A Seaside Heights bar that owned Monday nights for scores of summers has had its last call, but its replacement will include a new theme and a highly-touted seafood restaurant upstairs.
The Aztec Bar, best known for its popular “Aztec Mondays” club nights which drew large crowds to the boardwalk at Sherman Avenue for years, will not return for the 2023 season. The bar was purchased by the owners of Jersey Roll, John Fels and Robert O’Donnell, who have gradually expanded their business from a food truck serving pork roll sandwiches to a location on the boardwalk itself. The former Aztec location will serve as the restaurant’s new home and include a Jersey-themed bar centered around the Garden State’s signature (and controversial – yes, we know, “Taylor Ham” fans) dish.
Long owned by Louis Moscatiello, of Lavallette, the establishment’s liquor license was transferred from an entity associated with Moscatiello to its new owners following a vote by the borough council on Wednesday. Borough Administrator Anthony Vaz said the adjacent Aztec Ocean Resort hotel, to his knowledge, has not changed ownership, however the bar portion will now be owned and operated by its new owners. Moscatiello also owned the former Jax Garage bar, which shut down following restrictions imposed on its liquor license last year, and still operates Used to Be’s on Route 35 in Brick Township.
“The bar was sold, but the bar and hotel are separate,” Vaz said.
The bar will be renamed “Jersey Roll Bar and Grill,” with signs having gone up over the past several weeks in the windows of the establishment.
According to the business’s website, Jersey Roll was found by Fels and O’Donnell – “friends since their days playing tee ball” – who began serving pork roll breakfast and lunch sandwiches and platters in their classic style alongside several twists. The menu features the classics alongside pork roll paired with melted provolone cheese and marinara sauce on a kaiser roll, a “tropical” pork roll with pineapple and island barbecue sauce, and even the “El Bandito,” which pairs pork roll with jalapeno poppers and tator tots.
The changes to the eatery don’t stop with the boardwalk-level bar, however. The second story will house a new location of the Lobster Dock, a restaurant that gained a significant following after opening in Ortley Beach last season at the former Capriccio by the Sea restaurant. The Lobster Dock had its origins at the Channel Marker Cafe, located at Ocean Beach Marina, and expanded to a second location specializing in seafood last summer. This year, the Ortley Beach restaurant will return alongside the new boardwalk location overlooking the oceanfront from the second story above Jersey Roll.
“This season, we are excited to offer ocean-view seatings at our new Boardwalk location at Sherman Avenue in Seaside Heights, above the Aztec Ocean Resort and steps from Casino Pier and Breakwater Beach,” the restaurant said in an announcement. The restaurant is due to open May 5. Vaz said Jersey Roll will operate drink service for the Lobster Dock.
“It’s great food no matter what they cook!” said Vaz, a personal fan of the Lobster Dock.
Lobster Dock’s Ortley Beach location is due to open for the 2023 season May 19, the restaurant announced.