Founder John ”Jack” Bahrs, the grandson of a tall ship captain, and wife Florence, had their beginning in the Dutch Neck section of Newark where they owned and operated a small neck tie manufacturing business. The family was interested in Highlands and, after a robbery and their silk supply and finished neckties, they cemented their resolve to move to Highlands. They purchased a small boat rental business on Cedar Street that they operated in the summer and went back to work in Newark for the off-season. In 1917, they purchased the beached houseboat at this location, moved the rental boats over and started cooking up chowder. The rest is history! Jack, Florence and their four children, John(Bud), Al, Ken and Ruth, worked hard together selling bait, renting rowboats and cooking up dinners for fishing parties that would come down on the train Friday night and pay $2.50 for room and board. The two story houseboat had a potbelly stove and operated just seasonally. The houseboat structure remains as the interior of main dining room and reception area.
From the 1940s to the 1970s, Bud and his wife Peg successfully grew the business to a year-round destination entertaining seafood lovers visiting from Monmouth Park, the Garden State Arts Center, and the beaches. Famous stars such as Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and Ernest Borginine, and many more enjoyed lobster dinners at Bahrs. In the early days you could arrive by steamer or train when the Central Railroad of NJ came from Jersey City and stopped at Highland Station, just outside of Bahrs front door, on its way to Long Branch.
Bud & Peg officially retired in 1974. The Restaurant has been owned since by Ray Cosgrove and his son Jay, the fourth generation great grandson of the founders. Together they have expanded the facility to include Mobys Outside Deck & Lobster pound as well as the original marina facility. Our family and experienced dedicated staff have served over 12 million customers. Bahrs Landing is considered one of New Jersey’s famous landmarks as well as one of the country’s oldest family run restaurants.
Bahrs Landing specializes in catering to large and small groups, with friendly service, creating special memories for you and your family!
1917 Our History – Houseboat Beginnings
June 9, 1917
Founder John “Jack” Bahrs, born 1880, was the grandson of a ship captain. In 1910, he and his wife Florence(nee Crelin)lived on Walnut Street in the Dutch Neck section of Newark, N.J. with the Crelin family. John Bahrs and Brothers Necktie Factory was listed in the buyers guide of the New York Times in February of 1908 and was located at 313 Market Street. William K. Bahrs, born 1840, wrote that the business was “doing as good as could be expected in a year with a panic” referring to bank failures. However, in December of 1907 the necktie operation had been…
The First Winter
December 19, 1917
As happens during cold snaps today, the first winter was not free from worry as ice sheets move through with the tides, threatening pilings in the marina. The old scow of the houseboat is visible and at this time the building probably lifted with very high tides. The south side of the building reads…
March 15, 1932
Footpath Across the Drawbridge to Highlands This undated photo(late 1920’s?) of Bahrs Landing has the $1 Dollar Shore Dinner advertised in paint on the side of the building. The building to the right is Highlands train station. The train tracks were only 30 feet from the restaurant door. The Central Railroad of NJ came from Jersey City and stopped, just outside of Bahrs, at Highlands station on its way to Long Branch. Prohibition came to and end nationally in 1933 and one…
January 10, 1940
Clam Chowder is on the Bahrs Landing menu in 1929 but there was not an indication as to whether it is red tomato based or if it is milk based. Chowders in this area were typically the Down East type, that is, made of whole clams and the clam juice, with a dash of potato for flavor, although the customer who asked for milk or cream in his chowder may have had it. People that lived in Maine said “no” to tomato in chowder. People in Manhattan said “yes” to tomato and for years the name Coney Island Chowder stuck, until, someone decided that Manhattan Clam Chowder sounded better and then that name stuck for tomato based clam chowder. We found a note containing a recipe for Church Chowder 1940 from Hattie Walstrom to Ken Bahrs(envelope address typed to Ken although note is addressed to John). Hattie was an active member of the Highlands Methodist Church, as were the Bahrs family. Hattie was so regarded that she was known to take the pulpit when the reverend was out of town. In the recipe, Hattie declares that this Church Chowder was the best ever made! For…
Fete for Gertrude Ederle
August 4, 1956
Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel in 1926, was feted at Bahrs Restaurant on August 4th 1956. Trudy spent her summers in Highlands where she trained in the challenging currents beneath the Highlands bridge. She swam 35 miles from Cape Griz Nez, France, to the south coast of England in 14 hours and 31 minutes. The event celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the Channel Swim and was covered in the society magazine Spotlight and in the local papers.
Bahrs In The 1960’s
June 1, 1961
The recipe for Bahr’s Special was published by the Ford Times (yep the car company) in May of 1966. This publication was distributed to about 5 million people and the edition that Bahrs Landing was in, was titled “Famous Recipes from Famous Restaurants,” reason being that if you had a car you needed to know where to eat when you got there. The art for the piece on Bahrs Landing is by Howard Connelly. He painted, to accompany the recipe, a beautiful rendition of the lounge and dining area including the red leatherette bar chairs, the carved King Neptune, ship wheel and ship model. Peter Doremus, Ford sales manager of Mount-English, Red Bank, presented the original watercolor to Bud and Peg. Bud was Mayor of Highlands at this time. The Garden State Arts Center and Monmouth Park attracted crowds and celebrities. Long time Courier News reporter Muriel Smith wrote…
Bud & Peg Bahrs
August 19, 1969
Bud and Peg did a spot on the Joe Franklin Show in the early 1950’s. Joe Franklin had moved to television from radio. He was a pioneer in promoting products such as Hoffman beverages and Canada Dry ginger ale on the air. The writing on the photo reads “Thanks for sparkling on TV, Bud and Peggy. Loved honoring Bahrs for Canada Dry. Howdy Earl and Joe Franklin. P.S. See you in Highlands.” A large lobster is on the table behind the glass of ginger ale.
Bahrs During The 1980’s
June 1, 1980
Bud and Peg officially retired in 1974. The Restaurant has been owned by Ray Cosgrove with his son Jay, the 4th generation great grandson of the founders. Together they have expanded the facility to include Mobys Outside Deck & Lobster pound as well as the original marina facility. The family and experienced dedicated staff have served more than 12 million customers. Bahrs Landing is considered one of New Jersey’s famous landmarks and one of the country’s oldest family run restaurants.
Restaurant acquires model ship collection
January 9, 2011
Bahrs Landing is home to ship model builder Henry Schaefer’s collection of 33 museum quality ship models. Schaefer ran a nautical antique business in Atlantic Highlands but had been making detailed models of ships since he was a young kid. When Schaefer was in his eighties, he wanted to find a place for his prized models to stay together and a place…
Super Storm Sandy Photos
October 31, 2012
Bahrs Landing Celebrating 100 Years
December 18, 2016
JAKBAR and STARBOUND
January 19, 2017
In photo above, next to the JAKBAR, the famous 65′ sloop, “Starbound” was being framed, at Bahrs Pier 7 during the years of 1946 through 1948. Built for Nutley NJ engineer J. Kenneth Whitteker, who after becoming fascinated with sailing, began researching the Spray, Joshua Slocum’s famed sloop. Determined to have one just like her, William J. Deed, New York Naval architect was commissioned to draw the plans and the Bahrs boatyard at Pier 7 was to build her. The…