A first (As Far As I Know)

Since 1995 Martin & Ottaway has been based in Monmouth County on the North Jersey shore, but many of us have known the shore for much longer than that. One of Chris Hanges’ favorite Jersey hangouts was Bahrs Landing in Highlands, a short distance from the Seastreak ferry.

Bahrs Landing still is a Jersey shore favorite and plays a part in the life of many a Monmouth County resident past and present. The restaurant decor is traditional “shore shack” with sawtooth fish jaws, rustic ship models and a diver Dan suit, but the last time I stopped by I noticed a diorama containing three generations of the Columbia Bar lightship. These scale models were quite a step up from the crude models that are associated with the traditional shore shack style. Jay Cosgrove, the fourth generation Owner of the restaurant, was right there and I asked where he picked that beauty up.

So this is the story in a nutshell: One of his customers, Henry Schaeffer, a long time Atlantic Highlands resident, is an avid ship model builder, who is now near 80 and had moved some time ago to a retirement community in central Jersey. Advancing in age, he was wondering what to do with his ship model collection, and contacted Jay if he could donate his ship model collection to Bahrs’ Restaurant for free lunches in perpetuity.

Jay accepted the offer and now the restaurant will be displaying over 30 museum quality ship models. The models are quite beautiful, but, most of all, I am looking forward to meeting this talented gentleman, since the selection of the models is quite extraordinary. So far, I noticed a Liberty ship, the Normandie, the whaler Willem Barendtz (diorama), the Columbia Bar lightship diorama and van Speyck’s ship. This is one eclectic collection, but these are all ships with really interesting stories and they cry out to be told.

And, suddenly, there was that shining light moment. A moment of perfection, a moment of galactic convergence. Museums are difficult propositions. There tend to be forever more museums and they tend to require more and more fundraisers and all fight for the same customers.

But here we have a new paradigm: The first Museum Bar! At Bahrs you can learn about ships and at the same time enjoy your favorite cocktail! Which in Monmouth County obviously is the Jack Rose.

Blog Update: Bahrs has partnered with Navesink Maritime Heritage Association to further develop this concept and the Bahrs Museum Project is moving along slowly but steadily.