Joey’s: A Sure Thing By The Shore

Once upon a time, the Compo concession stand was located where the volleyball courts are now.

Run by Chubby Lane, it was staffed by high school and college kids. Though it was cool to work at the beach, the grills and fryolators were hot as hell. Lines were long, customers pushy, and no one wanted to be seen wiping down the tables outside or (worse) picking up garbage.

I know, because I was one of Chubby’s workers. It was my 1st job, the summer after 10th grade.

And don’t get me started on the navy blue shorts and knee socks we had to wear.

I thought of all that the other day, as I stood in line at Joey’s, the current (and longtime) Compo concessionaire.

The menu is a lot more varied than back in my day. (It was a big deal when Chubby added fried chicken to the burgers and dogs.) Today’s cooks have much more work. And even though a computer screen has replaced our high-tech method of yelling orders over our shoulders, no one has yet devised a way to cool a grill or de-grease a deep fryer.

It was hot. The lines  were long. But the teenagers and 20-somethings working at Joey’s were unfailingly polite. They did not snap (as I used to) at people who had 10 minutes to figure out what they wanted but just started deciding the moment they reached the register!!!!!!

They made sure little kids didn’t drop their ice cream cones or their change. They smiled at everyone, and (unlike my era) actually cared about getting the orders right.

Plus, there was always someone wiping down the tables, and picking up garbage.

Joey Romeo, by the shore.

Joey Romeo, by the shore.

We tend to take Joey’s for granted. It takes an out-of-towner to make us realize how good we’ve got it.

The other day, a friend-of-a-friend was visiting from DC. I sat on the beach; she went off in search of food.

She came back awed.

“You wouldn’t believe it — they have everything there!” she raved. “And sweatshirts. And pails and shovels!

“And it’s so clean! And the people are so nice! I couldn’t believe I was at a beach stand!”

Next year, Joey Romeo celebrates his 25th anniversary as Compo’s concessionaire extraordinaire.

It’s about time we celebrated him.

16 responses to “Joey’s: A Sure Thing By The Shore

  1. Eric William Buchroeder

    So if it were a present day choice, you’d choose Joey over the Chubster?

  2. I’ve written about Joey before–while most of the mom-and-pop shops that we grew up with on Main Street are long gone, he (and Elvira’s) are living proof that that type of operation and personal service are alive and well in other parts of town.

    Plus, I had a similar experience with an out-of-town guest who said she had never seen a beach concession that was so well maintained and that offered such a diversity of menu choices.

    I didn’t realize he had been there 25 years. Congrats!

  3. PS–here’s a factoid I learned yesterday from a friend and classmate who worked at Chubby’s Compo concession: Paul Newman stopped in there on a number of occasions.

    • Eric William Buchroeder

      Fred: Anything (or anyone) that was any good in Westport did not escape Paul. Anyone ever see him at Joey’s? I’ve never been to Joey’s because I left town in ’78 but I will be sure to try it out when I get back. There were a couple of “holy trinitys” at the Chubster’s: The girls he hired, the onion rings and the hamburgers with the unlimited sauteed onions, in that order. Also, I used to LOVE ridiculing my buddies who worked there in their light blue button down shirts, Navy blue Bermuda shorts and best of all: THE BLUE KNEE SOCKS!!!

  4. Sally Campbell Palmer

    Wasn’t it Chubby’s that tried out “beach service”, with kid’s wandering around the beach in their “uniforms” taking orders? That was cool!

    • Sally, that was before my time. Employees (in their blue button-down shirts, Bermuda shorts and knee socks) walked around the beach taking orders. They relayed them to the shack via walkie-talkie, and tied a colored balloon around a beach chair so some other Chubster would know where to deliver it.

      I’m surprised Joey hasn’t created an app for that.

  5. Michael Swimmer

    Hard to understand these comments. Compo beach is one of the biggest assets in town and all we expect from the concessionaire is to keep the place clean while serving junk food? You only have to look at all the restaurants that have opened up in town to imagine the potential that the Compo beach location offers and I am not thinking about something upscale. Anybody can do better than Joey’s and it is time to grant the concession to somebody that is willing to do so. One idea would be to grant two concessions, which creates some competition in the location to do better.

  6. ELLEN NAFTALIN

    Such a good memory. I worked at Chubby Lane’s behind the New Englander aka The Westport Inn. He and his family lived upstairs and I also would work as their babysitter. He would let me go downstairs and help myself to whatever so my favorite mid-night snack was Hot fudge and Whipped cream. No ice cream. Still my guilty pleasure but never tastes as good as it did then. And as a babysitter I didn’t have to wear the knee socks and shorts.

  7. Michael, I’m not sure when you were at Joey’s last but, while admittedly there’s a lot of junk food on the menu, there is some choice of more healthful items–which is one of the things my out-of-town guest noticed.

    To the best of my knowledge, there is a competitive process for that concession at Compo and, if Joey’s wasn’t meeting the needs and tastes of beachgoers, I don’t think the establishment would be as popular as it seems to be when I occasionally stop in (to get a good salad they offer, by the way, and a locally made gelato that my wife thinks is superb).

    PS if that is your real name–sorry, I haven’t noticed it in the Comments section before–I can see it as an ideal one for a beach concession somewhere.

  8. Nick Thiemann

    Mark (Chubby) and Pat Lane are two very nice people. By the way Mark was not chubby. Anyone know where they are?

  9. I agree with Fred. They have a large selection, much of it relatively healthy. I remember Chubby’s, and the Lane family with fondness. Have been in town over 40 years and think Joey’s hits the nail on the head for me! Best thing about them- if we have a warm weekend in Nov. or March, they’ll open up. They are real troopers! Tracy Flood

  10. Werner- you are funny!
    Tracy