Founded In Family – Eight Years of Milestones and much more in store, the Saropoulos Family and their team is doing something right at Lefty’s Tavern.
You might say that both Lefty Saropoulos and his wife Jennifer were born to run their family business. Both grew up in Southern Ocean County, spending most of their childhood’s right in Barnegat. In 2009, the opportunity came to them to open Lefty’s Tavern at 547 North Main Street in Barnegat from two employees who worked at the location under the ownership of Monte’s.
Lefty’s Tavern finds putting treating customers and staff like family, and putting them first helped them beat the odd. Nationally, about 60% of restaurants fail within the first 3 years. The Sarapoulos’ philosophy is that the restaurant business is a family, discussing decisions with the staff. The first consideration is how that decision will affect our family and the 30 or so families’ dependent upon the restaurant. Everyone is valued, we are people, with families, depending on the success of our business. It is that feeling of team work that helped Lefty’s Tavern expanded from just a family restaurant to a full banquet facility as well as an off-premise caterer. The past few years have been filled with milestones from booking their first 200 person wedding, to hosting the prom and the granddaddy of all wins, being voted Grand Champion Red Chowder at Chowderfest 2017. To bring that title to Barnegat for the first time in the event’s 29 year history was a feat that could only be accomplished as team. Under the direction of Lefty, Jennifer and Chef Oscar, the entire staff, family members and volunteers rallied together to achieve a monumental win for the restaurant.
Family means everything to Jennifer & Lefteddy who are the chief family members involved with the business. On any given day you will find them teaching their sons the ropes. At ages 8 and 10 years old, both have a good grasp on some of the responsibilities and are happy to pitch in. 8 year old Noah, is quite a proficient dishwasher and Aiden, age 10, loves to mingle and host our guests. Both Lefteddy and Jennifer’s Dads also help out no matter what the task. Lefty’s Dad, Chris, helped get the business up and running the first few months and Joe runs our poker night every Tuesday. Both are talented painters and builders who take on remodeling projects to fit with the restaurants plans.
Living here for 40 years, the Sarapoulos’ have seen a lot change to Southern Ocean County, with the biggest being the boom in population. With the development of the many Active Adult communities the area has seen a shift toward a more mature population. The Lefty’s team always looks to adapt, by keeping an open mind, keeping what works and what is comfortable; while making changes slowly and deliberately to keep it fresh. The shift in growth will help in keeping the younger generation around a bit more. Lefty and Jennifer stated “When they were starting out, if you wanted a job, you had to commute to Northern Jersey or the cities…now with tele-commuting and net-meeting and all the other fancy new ways to connect; it’s easier for young people to stay here, in Southern Ocean County where it’s affordable to live, relatively safe, and a great place to raise the next generation. I look forward to serving them and we’ll adapt for them too”
When reflecting on changes, the couple states “Everyday there are new challenges and old hat routine. As the years go by, new challenges become old hat and old hats gets a fresh look. And the years fly on by.” Through the changes, it is good to know that the value they show their extended family keeps some things the same, like those two employees that suggested they open Lefty’s almost a decade ago, are still part of team.