If you had been a patron at Rick’s American Café, the longstanding Barnegat Light watering hole and night spot, you likely never went upstairs. Even many regular customers didn’t know the sprawling room was up there – with amazing views of the bay, inlet and Old Barney.
“When we went upstairs, the space was so big, it was just screaming banquets,” said Paul Sabarese, co-owner of Daymark, which has since taken over the building.
“It was just totally independent of the space downstairs. We knew we didn’t want to do two floors of dining. We decided to keep it wide open and make it an event venue.”
Brothers Brian and Paul Sabarese opened The Arlington in 2013. It has since become a favorite Ship Bottom restaurant and bar known especially for its modernist style and ever-changing selection of craft beers. But The Arlington is broken up into three different rooms, not ideal for events like a wedding.
“We’ve had some weddings. We had one in December, and it was awesome. But ideally we don’t want to close our restaurant, because we have year-round local business and we never want to turn them away,” Sabarese explained.
But when they opened Daymark in 2016, they saw the exciting potential for brides and grooms.
“We were really busy just getting on our feet the first summer, but this fall we did about 12 weddings. The location is key.”
Daymark has seating for 160 and can accommodate a cocktail affair for 250. The wide-open 2,500-square-foot space upstairs has its own kitchen, completely independent of the restaurant. The gazebo at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, built several years ago, has become a great place for wedding ceremonies, right across the street from Daymark.
Sabarese noted that the north end of LBI is beautiful, and quieter than much of the rest of LBI.
“It’s so much less developed. There are actually trees here. Fourth Street has all these wooded lots. The house across from the Daymark is almost hidden in its own woods.”
He also added the authenticity that’s afforded by Viking Village and the working fishing fleet.
“There are so many people who have ties to Barnegat Light. It’s such a great addition to what we do. There just aren’t that many spots on LBI that have waterfront dining, and we’re not as expensive as some of the other venues mid-Island. Of our 30 events coming up this year, 20 are weddings,” Sabarese added.
Spring and fall Saturdays for this season are mostly booked, but there is still availability on Fridays and Sundays. He added that there are six hotels or bed and breakfasts and many homes available for weekend rental in the off-season to accommodate extended families.
“We present everything very clean and modern. We have a touch of nautical, but we’re not full Barnacle Bill-sytle,” Sabarese added. “We don’t have that old look of tablecloths and carpet. This isn’t your parents’ banquet hall.”
Jill Boyce and her husband, Brian, of Highlands, N.J., were married at Daymark in September.
“My family’s been on LBI for a few years and The Arlington is at the end of our street, so we were very familiar with the food and style,” said Boyce. “They had only had one wedding there (at Daymark) before ours. You wouldn’t have believed it was only their second wedding. We got married at the lighthouse and walked right to the Daymark.”
She described the feel upstairs as rustic and esthetically pleasing.
“And we had a beautiful sunset right out that window. It was so easy; we didn’t have to do much. We just knew that everything would be taken care of.”
The Boyces decided to keep the tables sparse as to not detract from the Daymark-style place settings. And guests raved about the food.
“The scallops were the highlight. We offered salmon, chicken and meatballs as entrees. I had the salmon. I know brides say they never actually eat at their wedding because there’s so much happening, but I wasn’t skipping their food,” she said, laughing.
The general wedding menu is a sit-down, four-course meal. The pan-seared scallops over vegetable risotto are a popular appetizer. There’s a soup or salad, followed by a choice of meat, chicken or fish.
“We’re also vegetarian friendly, and we can accommodate dietary restrictions,” said Sabarese,.“And we offer a raw bar.”
They source locally from Forty North Oysters and buy scallops, swordfish and tilefish from Viking Village. Boyce went on to add that the timing of everything was perfect, and when the wedding ran a bit long, they weren’t kicked out.
“Paul was very good about making last-minute changes to the seating, for that person who doesn’t want to sit by that person. If I could do it all over every weekend, I would.”
The next day, she and her new husband went back to Daymark for lunch. As they walked in, they heard their wedding song, “Home” by Edward Sharpe. It was a wonderful full-circle feeling.
Reposted from The Sandpaper