2012 Ocean Today
Our July Q&A with Ocean Today is with Jon & Rose Grossman, of Jonnie-G’s Food & Outdoor Movies on the Go. Jon and Rose have owned Jonnie-G’s for over 9 years, during which they have provided great food and entertainment with outdoor movies for private parties, corporate events and store openings. Jon also has a regular presence at the surfing beach in Asbury serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to eager patrons of the surf beach and boardwalk.
Q. Hi Guys! It’s always great to interview people I know, but I’ve known you both for a long time! We’re school friends since the mid 1980’s and while we haven’t seen each other a lot, it is great to catch up and learn about your business, Jonnie-G’s!
A. Yes, we are both Ocean Township High School graduates and high school sweethearts’, we even went to the Prom together! We both graduated and went to college in different places, but wound up going to graduate school back here at Monmouth University. (Jon) After getting my Master’s Degree in Education, I applied to the Central Regional School District for an open position as a science teacher. I’ve always been active in the outdoors, mostly as a surfer at local beaches, and it was logical for me to become a science teacher, which I’ve been for the past 14 years.
Q. How did you guys get into the food service business?
A. (Jon) After college, I started working in the restaurant business. I was working at the Columns and the Parker House running the raw bar: shucking clams, cooking lobsters and making fresh burgers. It was great work, but when you start a family, working until 3am isn’t the greatest situation. It was a great experience and I learned a lot from the chefs and about the food industry but after 10 years, it was time to become my own boss and make my own hours. That was the best move I could have made for my family’s sake. (Rose) After receiving my Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice, I was working in local law firms, doing paralegal work and legal research. I also worked as a Government Affairs Coordinator for the NJ Apartment Association. Having the experience in this field of work has been great for us because I do all of the administrative work for our business, getting permits and filing our documents as required, including booking parties and corporate events.
Q. What made you decide to do a Food Truck, instead of a restaurant or some other type of food place?
A. (Rose, laughing) Actually, it was my idea! Every day, driving to work, I would notice this food truck on the side of the road, with people waiting for coffee or breakfast sandwiches. I told Jon, “This is something YOU should do! You are so good with people and your cooking is so great.” Plus, as a teacher, you have to do SOMETHING in the summer and camp counselor is not Jon’s thing. So we took the plunge after having our 1st daughter, Emily and before our 2nd daughter, Lauryn was born. (Jon) Since then, the “food truck” business has BOOMED! There are SO many different levels of food quality and types. We try to be at the top of the food chain, with a very clean truck, with the freshest ingredients and the best quality menu items. We also consider ourselves ‘private caterers’ for private parties and events, but we also will work festivals, when it makes sense. This year, we’re going to be at the Italian-American Festival in Ocean, which we are really excited about because it is our 1st year working it with our new truck, which we put into service last year. I also operate the Jonnie-G’s food truck on the weekends at the surfing beach on the north-end of Asbury Park.
Q. What kind of bookings do you do, when you wear the hat of a private caterer?
A. We have some excellent clients in the area that have brought us to their business. Monmouth University, for example, was one of our clients. We’ve done tailgate parties for different groups there and we also bring the truck to Seashore Camp swim meets where several teams come to compete. We’ve been hired by some corporations to bring food for their employees during an employee-recognition event or opening of a new branch. We also have been hired by Senior Communities, which is so much fun! It is great to see the surprise on the residents’ faces when they approach the truck! We offer an alternative to bringing in sandwiches or trays of food INTO an office or building. People love to come to our truck and are often surprised at some of the menu items. When we private cater an event, our menu is displayed with NO PRICING, which allow people to better understand that they can order whatever they want, and get as much as they’d like.
Q. Great transition, because I was about to say that I’ve heard people RAVE about your meatball sandwiches, and all the other food on the truck. So tell me what to expect the next time I roll up to the Jonnie-G’s truck!
A. It all depends on WHERE you find me! If it’s the weekend at the Asbury beach, right after the Loch Arbour beach and the high Asbury Tower, and its morning, you’ll get porkroll, egg and cheese sandwiches and coffee. I’ll still be there when you get hungry again and come back for chicken sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs. We also recently added smoothies: fresh Strawberry/Banana smoothies and Very Berry smoothies which are big sellers! If you get to us at a private party, it could be Maryland Lump Crabcake sandwiches, stuffed pita sandwiches with tuna or chicken salad, and even offer vegetarian options. Plus, we have fries, desserts and drinks and the food is unlimited during your party.
Q. Ok…let me slow you down a little. Explain to me how a private party (birthday, retirement, graduation, sweet sixteen, etc.) works?
A. Every party is different, some customers book just the food truck, some customers book just the outdoor movie experience with fresh popcorn or some have BOTH! With the food truck we offer unlimited food for 2 ½ hours at your location, and you get to be a GUEST at your own party. We do everything: prepare the food, serve, collect the trash, and we even have our own electricity so we can have the party anywhere. We’re completely self-contained. If you have the space we can bring the party to you! We offer beverages, desserts and everything including Italian ice. All of this is based on packages that we offer, which are located on our website: www.Jonnie-G.com, according to what your budget and your tastes require.
The outdoor movie parties are a fantastic event which includes a large 20 foot movie screen with a Hi-Definition Projector and Sound. We have such satisfied customers after we run their parties that they find it to be less money than doing it themselves.
Q. What’s next for Jonnie-G’s?
A. We’re always improving something, whether it is the menu items, our equipment or the technology for the movies. We use marketing to expand into other local areas, which is why we like the Eatontown/Tinton Falls Today, your other paper. We want to spread the word of Jonnie-G’s Food and Outdoor movies to a larger audience because we feel we’ve got the BEST concept and deal in town for parties and special events and we want as many people to know about it!