Anthony Mancuso, head concierge of the Bungalow shares what Long Branch, N.J. hotel and its team can offer as well as an insider’s look at the best of the local scene.
What service can you provide to groups that they normally might not receive?
We strive to make our guests feel like family. None of the employees wear name tags, so we really encourage the staff to introduce themselves and get to know each guest individually. With only 24 rooms in the hotel, it’s easy to provide customized service even with a full house. I can’t think of a request that we wouldn’t do our best to accommodate. I once drove to Walmart at 1 a.m. to get an electric tea kettle for a guest.
What are you bar or nightclub recommendations?
The closest venue with a nightclub atmosphere is Porta in Asbury Park, N.J., a 12- to 15-minute Uber or taxi ride away from the hotel. They serve excellent pizza during the day, before the lights dim and the dance floors fill up. Most of the walking-distance destinations are calm, although Avenue/Le Club does have a nightclub atmosphere on the rooftop after 10 p.m. As far as a spot for some creative cocktails, our lobby bar serves extremely well for that.
Can you recommend a good place to take a stroll?
Well, that’s an easy one for this area. The Bungalow is steps away from the Long Branch boardwalk, which runs several miles along the beautiful coastline. These North Jersey beaches defy the “Jersey Shore” stereotype. You won’t find carnival rides or stands selling cheesy t-shirts. Take a stroll down our boardwalk and discover some amazing dining options, everything from high class French cuisine to fresh seafood.
Are there any quirky places we should check out?
Steps away from The Bungalow is the Wine Loft, with a generous selection of drinks and a creative tapas menu. A recent fad has seen Stumpy’s, a hatchet throwing joint, grow rapidly in popularity. Go toss a few axes and blow off some steam. If you’ve come with a furry friend, then take a short drive down to Asbury Park for Yappy Hour at the Wonder Bar. It’s a happy hour geared towards dogs who’ve brought their humans along!
What is an unusual request from a group you’ve had?
There was a wedding party that stayed at the hotel and the groomsmen were tasked with building the arch under which the couple would get married. They were given the materials but no direction; just a box filled with driftwood style logs for a beach-themed ceremony. They were totally in over their head, so another employee and I spent an hour in the parking garage out back helping them construct a wedding arch. I’m not sure it would’ve been possible without some of the tools we had at the hotel.
A party of 12 wants to have dinner right away. What restaurants can accommodate last-minute requests of this size?
Rooney’s is always one of my first recommendations for a local bite to eat, and I’m sure they’d be well equipped to accommodate a large party on short notice. The location is perfect – just about a five-minute walk on the boardwalk from the hotel and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. The menu is diverse, with a focus on fresh seafood.
What’s a unique event that has taken place at your properly?
A few months ago, we had a hundredth birthday party, or ‘century party’. The truth is, it was a party for two guests, one turning 60 and the other 40. There was a magician there for entertainment, and not the kind that pulls rabbits out of hats. He mingled with the crowd and might approach you and start a conversation, and before you know it he was pulling a string out of his eye. The DJ was great too. I specifically remember this night as being loads of fun, both for the guests of the party and for us employees to watch.