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VFW Post 1963 has new things in store for members, including a new menu.

By MADDY VITALE

The inside of VFW Post 1963 in Sea Isle City may still be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, but that doesn’t mean members and volunteers can’t stop by for a great meal outside.

A new chef, volunteer Henry Wilson, of Sea Isle, will display his culinary talents for members in the latest addition to the post’s amenities — outdoor dining.

Post Commander Charles “Chick” Haines said having a new chef and outdoor dining will hopefully attract new members and please current members.

“This is going to be good for the club,” Haines said Monday. “It will be open more and bring more people in at least five days a week.”

The post will feature lunch on Wednesdays, dinner on Thursdays and Fridays and lunch and dinner on Saturdays. Hours for lunch are 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. There are discussions to expand the schedule.

Outdoor dining at New Jersey restaurants began June 15, after Gov. Phil Murphy eased dining restrictions that were initially limited to curbside pickup and takeout throughout the state.

VFW Post 1963 Commander Charles “Chick” Haines, right, joins Mayor Leonard Desiderio and Councilman William Kehner while marching in the 2018 Columbus Day Parade.

While Post 1963, located at 301 JFK Boulevard, will remain closed inside, refreshments and food are available outside at a large tent on the lawn for members.

Anyone using the refreshment area must be a member and adhere to the membership requirements. They must also show current membership cards prior to entering the grounds.

Wilson, who has volunteered for Post 1963, said he worked in the restaurant industry from the time he was 15 to 29 years old.

He then chose the IT field and ended as a senior systems engineer upon retirement last June.

That was when Wilson said he had to do something he enjoys.

“I was trying to enjoy retirement and deciding what to do,” he noted. “The pandemic hit, which is devastating businesses all over the country.”

Wilson went to Haines and told him he would like to help out in the post’s kitchen.

“I mentioned to the commander that I had some interest in reopening the kitchen and have a regular posted schedule,” Wilson pointed out. “He immediately agreed.”

Some of the specials featured on Wilson’s menu include macaroni salad with green olive, a fresh ground beef burger and a steak sandwich, Wilson said, adding that the menu options will expand to dinner entrees as well.

When indoor dining is allowed to resume, which according to the latest news will be July 2 — with a restriction of 25 percent capacity — then the VFW will offer dinner entrees such as smoked meatloaf platter, chicken cacciatore over rice and mussels marinara over pasta. Pricing varies.

Wilson also created a contest to name the new kitchen. For a $5 donation, from June 24 through July 8, people may suggest a name on one side of an index card and on the other side they should write their contact information. The winner, who will be announced July 11, gets “bragging rights.” The proceeds benefit the post.

“Please come out and support your Post,” members said on Facebook. “It’s been a long time and we miss seeing all of you and need all the support we can get.”

For hours of operation and other information visit www.vfwpost1963.com or call (609) 263-1711. People may also go on the Post’s Facebook page.

Volunteer chef Henry Wilson is looking forward to serving up entrees to members. (Photo courtesy Henry Wilson)