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.
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.