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Woody's Oceanfront Sea Bright Mess Tent Gets Thumbs Up from Gov. Christie

Woody's Ocean Grille owner Chris Wood went to work on tent right after Hurricane Sandy hit

Chris Wood grew up in the Rumson-Fair Haven area.

He graduated from Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School. He grew into adulthood immersed in R-FH tradition, much of which included summer fun in Sea Bright. He has a love of Sea Bright that is steeped in good memories.

Like all R-FHers, he spent many a day at Sea Bright beaches and many a night at Donovan's Reef and Ichabod's. It was just the R-FH way. If you wanted to connect with R-FH classmates, post-high school, you could usually find them back at some Sea Bright haunt, like Ichabod's.

In keeping with tradition, Chris, also known as Woody, decided that it would be a great idea to buy Ichabod's and make it his own in sort of a time-honored R-FH traditional way. He did just that little more than a year ago and re-named the place Woody's Ocean Grille.

Word spread about the good food and atmosphere at the place and the clientele at Woody's quickly grew. On any given day or night, you'd find Woody at his place running around, greeting new and old friends and keeping things running smoothly.

Then, Hurricane Sandy hit. Woody's fared far better than most places. On the ocean side of Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright, it remained standing through it all with damage that Woody shook off as a minor annoyance. He was much more concerned with how he could help those around him who didn't weather the storm quite as well.

So, without a flinch, Woody jumped into action getting area chefs together to cook for and serve those working on restoring Sea Bright. From there, he decided to expand his operation and create a three-meal-a-day mess tent, unofficially dubbed Food City, for residents as well when they start filtering back into town.

In no time, the U.S. Army's National Guard descended on his makeshift site with tents, refridgerated trucks and all sorts of supplies. Volunteers came to him by the hundreds, including many area restaurateurs and chefs, and food, utensils and cooking equipment abounded.

He's now set up to serve three meals a day to those in need. "We will serve three meals a day: breakfast at 7 a.m., lunch around noon, when residents are in town and dinner for all the workers and anyone else left in town after the curfew around," Woody said.

He has been working basically around the clock since, so it's difficult to catch up with him. And, today, the last word was that Gov. Chris Christie stopped by and gave Woody the thumbs up to keep up his good work.

"He gave the go ahead to keep our operation going as long as we need it. Awesome!" Woody said in a brief post on his Facebook page.

Later in the day, Woody issued this alert on the restaurant's Facebook page:

"Food needed! We fed 1,000 meals today: tomorrow at Piping Rock field in Rumson by the HS we will have a pick up from 9 to 11 a.m.

We need: burgers, burger rolls, hot dog rolls, thin sliced chicken breast, mayo, sterno, aluminum serving dishes, soda, Gatorade, BBQ sauce, heavy duty paper plates, celery, aluminum foil, and easy to grill lunch items ... we have all the hot dogs we need. I could also use a truck full of ice. Please share this and spread the word quickly. Thanks. Woody"

A non-profit called Sea Bright Rising is being set up for this and other Sandy recovery efforts in the borough.

Patch will be visiting with Chris Wood at his mess tent as soon as he gets a moment. Stay tuned for more. And, keep it up, Woody! The R-FH community is very proud!

Stephanie Pelletier November 11, 2012 at 12:19 AM
You are amazing! I wish I saw this earlier. I worked at the Quay and spent many memorable nights at all of the Sea Bright bars and clubs when I lived down there from 2001-2004 and seeing the destruction is heartbreaking. My husband and I have secured a trailor from the Salem Fire Department here in Salem, MA and have been collecting items to bring down this weekend. We plan to leave tomorrow. We are bringing the people of Sea Bright many blankets, toiletries, baby food, pet food, diapers, medicine, dry goods, canned goods, water, hand and foot warmers...people are really pulling through and eager to help. I will post this list on our even site on facebook and see if we can fill some of your requests as well. You Rock Dude!!!
Stephanie Pelletier November 11, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Elaine, I have read several of your articles and it was actually your articles that I have been using to get information to encourage people up here to donate. We had another drive for Long Beach, NY and sent several Uhauls down. I am heading down tomorrow night with my husband and will be bringing our truck and trailor down to the Sea Bright area on Sunday. Where is the best place to bring these items? We have baby food, pet food, toiletries, propane, blankets, cleaning supplies, packages of socks and underwear in all sizes, chapsticks...any help you can give me as far as driving restrictions etc. would be helpful. You can email me at skondon@yahoo.com
Allen Cutler November 11, 2012 at 02:42 PM
What a great story! I spent nearly every weekend with shipmates at The Seagull Nest during the afternoon. Jennifer and Kristan Gross kept us entertained and hydrated with Coors lights and rum drinks. We would then venture to Donovan's Reef and Ichabod's for the evening while stationed at Earle Naval Weapon Station in the early 90's. Met so many good and fun people in Sea Bright. I was shocked seeing the damage Sandy did to Sea Bright and surrounding areas, but warms my heart the way people have come together. Would love to help out in some way but live in Fort Lauderdale. Is there a local organization set up to take donations? Allen aka Woody
Tom Jones November 11, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Great job woody!
Kimberley Larsen November 18, 2012 at 01:40 AM
I continue to be amazed by you Woody! So wish that I could see you and help out with this wonderful effort. Gotta get back to my Jersey shore. Kim Morris Larsen

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