Fenwick’s Tasty Tradition
For the Mumford clan, Warren’s Station offers a living and a lifestyle. For diners, Warren’s offers great hospitality.
(page 3 of 3)
Shortly after taking over Warren’s, the Mumfords spruced up the restaurant with fresh paint and curtains. But it wasn’t enough. In 1983 they planned a major overhaul that absorbed the existing structure by adding wings and a new kitchen.
For the design, they chose a lifesaving station. “We wanted to give it some character,” Paula says. “Fenwick Island lost its lifesaving station in the storm of 1962, and it was never rebuilt.” Jeff, who does carpentry in winter, was the general contractor. His helpers were “two cooks, a carpenter and a dog,” he says. “It was a long winter.”
Jeff made all the tables. A local artist painted murals depicting lifesavers in action and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. There are also photographs of the beaches in days gone by. The Mumfords worried that longtime customers would balk at the changes. They didn’t. No matter its appearance, the restaurant is part of people’s memories—memories they want to relive.
“I first went there as a teenager when I worked across the highway at a motel that’s now gone,” says Randy Gregory of Salisbury, Maryland. “I would go and get my lunch there. I have been there many times over the years, and I always make sure to save room for Mile High Pie.”
The ice cream confection is just one of Mary Lynch’s signature desserts. In her 80s, Lynch, who was once Johnson’s breakfast cook, reports to work at 5:30 or 6 a.m. and stays until noon. Pie varieties include peanut butter, sugar-free fruit, lemon meringue, chocolate chip-pecan, chocolate cream and seasonal fruit pies. There’s apple crisp, carrot cake and rice pudding. Most are $3 to $3.25 each.
The chopped sirloin is gone, but such favorites as crab imperial and sugar-cured ham steak served with raisin sauce remain. (Steaks now include T-bone and sirloin.) The restaurant goes through six 30-pound turkeys a day. The birds are turned into turkey entrées, soup stock and gravy. There are always three soups simmering, including the top-selling cream of crab.
For now, the Mumfords are content to keep the 250-seat restaurant as a seasonal business. It opens Mother’s Day weekend and closes three weeks after Labor Day.
In 2006, when the restaurant installed a new computer system, Paula stepped back. Today, she primarily handles payroll. Elise runs the dining room. When Scott took over the kitchen, Jeff helped Elise until she got her footing. “Now I tell people I’m maintenance and finance,” he says. “When something breaks they call me, and when they need money they call me.”
There’s no moving to Florida, Jeff maintains. There’s no going to Florida during the winter, either. The Mumfords are clearly Sussex County folks, and that is what adds to the charm of Warren’s Station. “We’ve kept great food at reasonable prices with courteous service,” Paula says. “Our motto is, ‘Let our Family Serve Yours.’”
That 50-year-old tradition shows no sign of changing. For the Mumfords, the family business offers both a living and a lifestyle.