Fenwick’s Tasty Tradition
For the Mumford clan, Warren’s Station offers a living and a lifestyle. For diners, Warren’s offers great hospitality.
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With his long neck and sharp features, he looked just like a turkey, Paula says. He certainly had something to gobble about. As president of the National Turkey Federation, he once presented a turkey to President Harry S. Truman.
Johnson had at first wanted to run a barbecue place, so he built a small annex in front of the restaurant for the smoker. “Smoke poured into the dining room,” Jeff says. “It didn’t work out.”
So Johnson turned his attention to family-style meals. He had roast turkey down to a science. Past menus also promised Black Angus steak, but without specifying the cut. That’s because Johnson would buy whatever steaks were on sale in supermarkets up north, then store them in the freezer until he drove them down to the beach. The crab cutlet recipe came from his seafood vendor on Deal Island, Maryland. An old menu lists the price at $1.85. Now the price tops $12. Back then, a platter included an entrée and two sides. The dinner was served with soup, salad, sides and dessert.
At 14, Jeff joined Warren’s as a dishwasher. He quickly graduated to breakfast cook. The morning job suited the Selbyville native, who’d spent summers at the beach all his life. He spent afternoons surfing. He met Paula, a Seaford girl, at a party in the summer of 1966. Jeff had burned his face over a gas jet at Warren’s, and the medication he wore dripped from his face onto his shirt. “I felt sorry for him,” Paula says. She started working for Warren’s in 1967. They married in 1969.
Jeff was 21 and Paula was 24 when Johnson called to see if they were interested in owning the restaurant. The timing was right, and there was serendipity: Jeff’s middle name is Warren, which is also his father’s name. The summer of 1970, the Mumfords learned the ropes from Johnson. They took over in 1971. Johnson went back to Nottingham full time to raise turkeys. (He passed on a Thanksgiving weekend.)
Though the restaurant was one of the few eateries in Fenwick, it was still tough going. The Mumfords had no turkey farm to fall back on. “It was hard to maintain a mortgage and a lifestyle,” Jeff says.
Son Scott was born in 1973, shortly after Jeff built a house on a lot behind the restaurant. Wendy came along in 1975. For seven years, the family lived in Fenwick full time. Along with the isolation, they fought the damp, chilly weather. The home’s lower level was so cold, the family spent most of their time in the upstairs living area. Paula felt like she was confined to an apartment in winter.
Jeff eventually built a house on Derrickson’s Creek, and they built a new beach home on what was the employee parking lot. Though the two houses are less than three miles apart, they stay at the beach house during summer, driving to the other house every day to get the mail and paper.
Page 3: Fenwick’s Tasty Tradition, continues...