New owners, menu at Apron Cafe
Apron Cafe, tucked away at the Hammonton Municipal Airport, is now under new management.
Sal Silipino, who runs the luncheonette with his wife, Nancy, said that the idea had been percolating in his mind for some time. Silipino owns Garden State Grounds Control, and was a regular at Apron Cafe under its previous management.
“During the winter months, or whenever we would be working locally, I would come here for lunch and I always liked the place. I always liked the atmosphere; it’s a cozy little place ... The town owns this, and the people who are leasing this whole property from the town called me and said that, if I was interested, they wanted to reopen the place. I couldn’t say no,” he said.
Silipino said that, despite the demands of his landscaping company, he has had the full support of his family in assuming management of the restaurant.
“I said, let’s do it. My wife backed me up. My family backed me up. They said, ‘go do it,’ so we put it together ... People say I’m crazy; I’m busy with my other business, but I like this. I like doing this. I like being around a lot of people. I grew up in this town; I like this town. I love the people. I love having people come in and socialize, and have a good meal and a friendly atmosphere,” he said.
Nancy Silipino said that the staff at the cafe is extraordinary.
“We have a great wait staff. April Riek, our manager, has done a great job of meshing everybody, training everybody, so that, when they come to the table they’re versed but not overpowering; they’re just right,” she said.
Sal Silipino agreed with his wife.
“Everybody who works here really wants the place to be successful. They’re looking out. We were very fortunate to get this staff, because they’re very in tune to making this work,” he said.
Sal Silipino also expressed his appreciation for the staff in the kitchen, as well.
“We have a great cook in the back—Regina Clark—she’s our chef. She’s got a lot of experience being a chef, and she’s put together a lot of the meals and the menu ... Regina makes everything fresh. We bring it in and she cooks it here, then she slices it up,” he said.
Clark, Sal Silipino said, has been responsible for creating the menu at Apron Cafe. Though there are a few staple dishes that were available previously, much of it is all-new, such as the restaurant’s skillet meals.
“We’re trying out a few different things, and we’re trying to get input from the people: what they would like, what they would like to see, what they would like to have,” he said.
Nancy Silipino said that one of the draws of the luncheonette is the location itself. With large windows surrounding the dining room, the scenery—and the ability to watch airplanes and helicopters take off and land—is quite popular with patrons, especially younger ones.
“The kids love it here. Our servers always put the kids facing outside and give them a special chair ... it’s nice for parents, because their kids can eat with a little bit of distraction so they can have a nice breakfast,” she said.
Sal Silipino said that they have plans to expand in the warmer months, as well, while continuing to capitalize on the view.
“We’re going to open up the outside patio in the spring. We want to expand it so that you can sit outside—we’ll make a garden theme out of it—and it’ll be nice with all the planes and helicopters flying,” he said.
Sal Silipino also said that he hopes the cafe’s location itself will continue to be a draw to patrons from around the region.
“We’re going to try to get some of the clubs to come in; the airplane clubs, because that’s what they do a lot of times on weekends. They’ll fly in on weekends just to eat breakfast or lunch, then they’ll take off,” he said.
Nancy Silipino agreed, saying that it is their belief that everyone will find their place at the luncheonette.
“One of our main goals is to be a comfortable, laid-back kind of place to go. Hang out and get a cup of coffee. It’s a good atmosphere,” she said.
Sal Silipino echoed his wife’s sentiments.
“I’m here to make sure that everybody’s having a good time and everybody’s enjoying themselves. That’s what it’s about,” he said.
Apron Café, located at 75 Academy Drive is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.