Menz Restaurant & Bar
Back in 1926, William Hennis had something on his mind. His 19-year-old grandson, Franklin Menz, was in the hospital for an extended period and had lost a leg to cancer. Fearing that Franklin had little to look forward to and knowing that, in those days, finding a job would be difficult, Granddad Hennis decided to give him a piece of ground he owned on Route 47 in Millville. His hope was that Franklin could make himself a little business, and have something to do with his time.
Sixty years and several moves later, Franklin's little business is still going. Franklin put that original property to good use, selling produce to passers-by. By 1930, he expanded his operation to a roadside stand, where he sold hot dogs and hamburgers and pumped gas at 12 gallons per dollar. In 1933, the bought a beer license (the forerunner of a liquor license) and began serving a "full" menu, which included 25- and 35- cent dinners. Franklin's early waitress staff included a young Millville woman named Marie Quinn. Preliminary arguments showed they might be onto something, and in 1937 she took on the additional job of being Mrs. Menz. She brought several recipes to the family business, and more evolved through the years. Even now, her deviled crabs, cole slaw and banana whipped cream pie are favorite staples of their menu.
When Route 55 came through the Millville area, their restaurant was a casualty of progress, and, soon after, Franklin and Marie brought their family to Rio Grande, where they bought Fort Apache, a recreated Old West town, and turned it into a campground. During and after this venture, they operated several businesses, but non were as satisfying as their original. In 1977, his children, now grown, were bitten by the restaurateurial bug, and Franklin and Marie found themselves back in the business, this time accompanied by Denise, Trudy and Jay Menz. They opened Menz's Seafood Take Out on July fourth of that year and added a dining room the following January. Like the buildings, the furnishings, antiques, bric-a-brac and oddities have been collected through the years, the restaurant is now a staple for "locals" and visitors alike. The restaurant's latest acquisition was the purchase of a liquor license on June of 2000. By July, the new enclosed front porch bar was in full swing, including Happy Hour every Friday night complete with entertainment hors'd'oeuvres and specialty drinks.
The Menz family is continuing the tradition born many years ago not too far away: to give people a good meal at a fair price and make them want to come back.
Marie Menz 1916-2002
Marie Menz, aka "The Duchess," was the hand that rocked the cradle and made the rules in the Menz family until her death in 2002. Wife of the late, great J. Franklin Menz she was the acknowledged matriarch of the family, "the iron fist in the velvet glove." The Duchess had a large circle of friends, mainly because she was at home with everyone. During her life, there were lean times and times of plenty, but she never changed. She was equally at ease with her well-to-do friends and her workers. A dignified and discreet gentlewoman, she was the unofficial Miss Manners for all who knew her: quiet and calm but unyielding, especially when pressing her case for doing the right thing. She was also known to channel Mae West from time to time. One of her trademark lines, a la Mae West, was, "It's better to be looked over than to be overlooked." She was a devout pinochle player, hosing raucous games that lasted until the sun came up. In the various restaurants she opened and operated with her husband - and later her children - she preferred to work behind the scenes. Despite advancing years, she put in many long hours in the restaurant, until illness kept her away. There she was known for her efficiency and calmness, cutting through the sometimes frantic desperation around her with a quiet, "What do you need right now?" The Duchess lives on in the hearts of her family and friends, and in the restaurant's dedication to quality and good times.
J. Franklin Menz 1907-1992
Frequent visitors to our restaurant may notice something is missing. The decor hasn't changed, nor has the menu. In November 1992, the patriarch of our clan, Franklin Menz ("Pop Menzie" to our younger visitors) ended a long life dedicated to good food and good works. For the benefit of those who never knew him, Pop held court near our cash register for the last several years. From a large recliner chair, he greeted old friends and welcomed new ones, explaining his left-handed handshake as "closer to the heart." Children especially took to him, particularly when he promised them lollipops if they "cleaned their plates." One of the few things that troubled him was a child in need. He earned a reputation early as someone who shared whatever good fortune he had with those who needed it. If he learned of a child without shoes for school, or milk for breakfast, he reached into his pocket and the necessary item appeared. To draw attention to a group of children forced to make a dangerous walk to school, he escorted them in his wheelchair. Shortly thereafter, the school district provided a bus.
Forceful and gruff, Pop was not what today would be termed "politically correct," but he was years ahead of his time and respected anyone who earned it - regardless of race or sex. He also demanded the same for himself, and anyone who underestimated him because of his wheelchair soon learned differently. His lifetime dedication to service did not go unnoticed, and he received many awards and honors over the years. The last came shortly before he died, when Governor Jim Florio presented him with the state's "Humanitarian of the Year" award. Representative William Hughes, Senator Frank Lautenberg and Middle Township Mayor Michael Voll were in attendance. But perhaps he would have been most pleased by the tribute he received posthumously at the end of the year, when he was named Honorary Grand Marshall of the Middle Township Christmas Parade. It was an event filled with laughing children and good will towards men, two of his favorite things.