Remembering Toms River’s Old Time Tavern

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3 mins read
Old Time Tavern postcard for sale on ebay.

TOMS RIVER, NJ – It’s long gone. It has been replaced with modern amenities, but for those who grew up in Toms River in the 1960s through the early 2000s the Old Time Tavern is more than just a piece of local history. It’s where families and friends gathered. It’s where children gawked in amazement at the large wooden barrel entrance, waiting for their table as the hostess called out names over the loudspeaker.

“Smith, party of 4, your table is ready.”

The Old Time Tavern closed for good in 2008. An attempt to declare the restaurant as a historical landmark was made, but failed because the building was demolished before the process could begin. The building, part of which was constructed in the 18th century in Downtown Toms River was torn down and is now gone forever. In its place is a Chase Bank sits today. In its parking lot, there’s a Buffalo Wild Wings, Panera Bread, Smash Burger, and the former Social 37 restaurant.

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The Dover Mall was a hangout spot. It’s where I enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1990, just two days after Iraq invaded Kuwait. It was home to Wolfie’s Deli, Bradlees, the Dover Theater, and it’s where the downtown lawyers would go for their one-hour Martinizing. At one point there was even a casino school and an upstairs Armed Forces Recruiting Center.

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The original Dover Plaza is also long gone, replaced with Staples, a liquor store and a Party Fair. The only thing that remains similar is Shop-Rite, but a much larger and more modern version of Shop-Rite than the one that stood behind the Old Time Tavern.

The Old Time Tavern provided generations in Toms River more than old-fashioned portions at old-fashioned prices, it was where we all came together. Civic groups held their meetings in the many dining rooms throughout the restaurant. Weddings were held and birthdays were had.

Memories of the Old Time Tavern flooded back when some menus and old postcards were recently posted for sale on eBay. Share with us in the comments below some of your favorite memories of the Old Time Tavern and what you think about what has since replaced the restaurant and the Dover Mall.

Old Time Tavern menu for sale on eBay.