NJMOMpreneur: Executive Chef & Restauranteur, Marilyn Schlossbach


New Jersey is home to many ambitious and talented women who juggle family, career, and home. A select few of these women are also extremely busy building their own companies to help better manage the balance of work and family. At NJMOM, we want to highlight these extraordinary women building New Jersey businesses, and learn the secret to their success.


Owner, Executive Chef, Restauranteur,
& NJMOMpreneur: Marilyn Schlossbach

To label Marilyn Schlossbach as a creative, multi-tasking philanthropist with inspiring family values almost wouldn’t do her justice. There isn’t a scope wide enough to view the full range of Marilyn’s accomplishments in building her company’s brand through a variety of restaurant concepts along the Jersey coast, giving back to her community by fostering an array of partnerships through Food for Thought by the Sea,  all while mothering four-year-old twin girls. Marilyn has a refreshing sense of humor about her own life’s journey in a way that exposes deep appreciation for her current situation and ability to use her extensive resources to give back to her community. Simple, powerful life lessons passed down from her parents stem from their generational gap, as her father was born in 1898, and reflect a simpler time when being kind and working hard were the foundation to running a business that maintains integrity and quality.

NJMOM had the pleasure of meeting with Marilyn in her Asbury Park beachfront restaurant, Langosta Lounge, to learn about the many branches of the Marilyn Schlossbach Group, her surprising kick-start into the restaurant business, and her uplifting outlook on raising children while maintaining a sustainable lifestyle.


Marilyn Schlossbach, Photo via loveprintphotography.com for NJMOM

NJMOM: What is it that you do?
Marilyn: I oversee the Marilyn Schlossbach Group which is a couple restaurant concepts: Langosta Lounge, Labrador Lounge, Pop’s Garage, a new restaurant in Rumsen that we’re going to be opening next week (name to be determined), a retail surf bodega called Lightly Salted, and a bar called Asbury Park Yacht Club. But the bigger picture, is I lead a bunch of people to do great things.

We have a non-profit called Food for Thought by the Sea, which oversees some partnerships with the Boys and Girls Club, Lakehouse Music Academy, and Mary’s Place by the Sea. We just launched a red wine called Community Vines which is a fundraising tool for the food bank and lunch break in Red Bank, and I am launching a cookbook that is called Feed This Community: Eleven Chapters for Eleven Charities Globally and Locally. I do water projects in Nicaragua; tonight we are doing an event [at Langosta Lounge]for Haiti, and we are possibly going into Cuba. We partner with Waves for Water for those projects. I implemented with interfaith neighbors at Kula Cafe in Asbury Park, which is a front-of-the-house training cafe for youth and minority in diverse areas that are struggling. And we just added a farm to that called the Kula Urban Farm, which is doing aquaponic micro-greens and vegetables. We also kickstarted Merrick Farm in Farmingdale, which is the first certified organic farm in Monmouth County. It was about to go bankrupted and we funded it to get it back on its feet, and now they are growing for our restaurants and we are buying it back. Some of our staff goes out there and helps when we can.


Photo via Merrick Farm Facebook

We’re in the process of a crowd-funding initiative; we’ve written some grants for a food truck called the Food Wagon, which is going to be a non-profit food truck which will go out to communities and partner with other charities for their efforts. So we’ll take it next summer, hopefully if we get it funded, up to the beach which will be for the Kula youth to work on that project and raise more money for kids to be in the Kula program. Mary’s Place has asked us to use it for their run next spring, and sell food out of it to raise money for them, and the Boys and Girls Club wants to use it for their Hip Hop Institute. So, it’s a truck we’ll own through our non-profit, but we will put it out there for partnerships so we raise funds for other people. And sometimes, it’s not even about the money, but the awareness of the project, which Kula struggles with, being on the west side of Asbury.

And then, probably the biggest thing that I do is wake up every morning to twin four-year-old girls to start my day and be the best that I can be for them, to inspire them to hopefully take on some of the community responsibility that I’ve taken on. So, I’m busy!


Photo via Labrador Lounge Facebook

NJMOM: How did you get started with your charity work?
Marilyn: About 10 years ago I had a restaurant downtown [Asbury Park] called Market in the Middle, and I was sitting at the bar one day, and a woman came in named Pat Sherman who runs an organization called Feeding Frenz, and they do a [bicycle]ride for pediatric AIDS. And we were chatting about the holidays, it was right before Thanksgiving, and how depressing that is for a lot of people, including myself. I lost my parents both within a year – one before Christmas and one after. So, the holidays became a really gloomy time for me, and I said to her that it would be really nice to do a dinner for people who are sad, or out of work, or lost a loved one, in a restaurant where it could be vibrant and social…giving a place where people could come and have the dignity that we have on holidays with the ability to go out to a restaurant or be with a big family. So we partnered, and we did our first community dinner at Market in the Middle, and ten years later, we’re doing one every Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. We serve about 1,000 people on and off-site. We deliver meals to seniors and the police department. And through that, I shifted my gloom and doom of holidays and made it a really positive thing to look forward to, for me. My family comes and helps me cook and my staff is here cooking when they can, and we have the same core group of volunteers that we’ve had for 10 years. That inspired me in all the changes I could make in someone’s life through what I do for a living, which is different than how other people impact community, but I see a lot of people through my venues every day and we have amazing ability to let people know about things that are wonderful in the world without having to hit them over the head.


Photo via loveprintphotography.com

My parents raised me to fill my cup and then give it over into my community, and they were very philanthropic people and I guess I inherited that quality and want to keep it alive. And this community [of Asbury Park]needs a lot; not every community needs a lot. But even places like Normandy Beach, where the Labrador Lounge is, was totally put out by Hurricane Sandy. A lot of our customer base and neighbors lost homes, or have not yet gotten back into their homes. So that is a different need, but what we found there is that we needed each other. We needed our daily routine of going to your favorite restaurant on Friday night or seeing your neighbor at the post office so you could feel like your life was getting back to some normal state. And then in Rumsen, obviously the demographic there is fine financially, but that demographic gives a lot. There are a lot of people in that area that sit on various charitable boards that are fundraising for others, so we’ve engaged with them doing a community night once a month for a charity. So I find that the ways you give are always different based on the need of the immediate community or the extended community, and in our business we can fit into that, no matter what we’re doing or where we are. It’s easy for us.


Photo via foodforthoughtap.com

NJMOM: What do you offer your clients and how is it different than other professionals in your field?
Marilyn: Each restaurant is different; they all have their own kind of vibe, but I think most of what I do, being the Executive Chef of the company, is try to instill local partnerships farms, oyster fishermen, meat purveyors, whoever it is, from the product standpoint and the business standpoint. Where we can work with someone and help support their family and their business as opposed to a bigger corporation. ‘Farm to table’ has this whole concept that you have to eat in a hip restaurant, and it has to be kale. But Langosta Lounge in particular is very farm to table; a lot of product that comes through here is very local and all the product comes from scratch, but we turn it into Polynesian, Thai, and Vietnamese food, which you wouldn’t think is farm to table, but there are farms and tables everywhere around the world! We just do it in a broader scope.

We try to be sustainable as a company, which makes us different, and we put a lot of pride in that. We don’t put straws in our cups because they are a big polluter of our ocean. So from our core mission and our values comes a place of sustainability and supporting our community, and then we take that into different cuisines. Langosta Lounge is what we call ‘vacation cuisine,’ which is inspired by how my husband and I surf and we travel a lot to go to places that have water and waves. So most of the food here has a coastal base to it, but in a very broad way. There’s some Spanish influence, some French influence, Thai, Vietnamese, a lot of Hawaiin Polynesian, because I have this dream that I’m going to live in Hawaii some day, so I live vicariously through our menu! We also have sushi here. We do, what I feel, is very fine dining in terms of the attention to detail in the product and service, in a vibrant, fun atmosphere. So from the public’s view, we don’t get put into that ‘fine dining’ category because when you come in here, it’s not precious. It’s boisterous, it’s vibrant, there’s live music and we’re doing fun things here, but from back-end, we take very seriously the product that we’re giving and the service detail that we expect from our staff. We want all of our restaurants to be kind – to the customer, to the community, and to the environment. So if we’re kind to everything, everything else will kind of find its place in the way that our mission is.


Langosta Lounge’s Sushi Bar, Asbury Park, NJ. Photo via loveprintphotography.com

NJMOM: What inspires the concepts for your restaurants?
Marilyn: We try to always have a story for what we do. Pop’s Garage is our Mexican concept. That came about because my husband and I used to go to Sayulita a lot – it’s a little town in Mexico, kind of a surf, funky, artisan town – and we would try tacos from everywhere on the street. This was 10 years ago that we started Pop’s down in Normandy Beach and the name came from a surf shop in Normandy Beach that was owned by a guy named Pop, and was in a garage. My husband used to go there with his father who passed away when he was young, but his memories of his father were sitting on the counter at Pop’s garage, so that’s where that name came from. Most people think it’s an auto place at first!

For Labrador Lounge, I had a litter of 13 puppies – not intentionally, my boyfriend and my dogs just really liked each other! And we had a puppy shower and decided to call the restaurant the Labrador Lounge, because the puppies were labradors and lounging around everywhere for weeks. And here [at Langosta,]this name came from the connection of the lobster industry in New Jersey and the northeast. We travel a lot, and we have the best lobster here. Lobsters in the Caribbean and southern areas don’t have claws. It’s indigenous to this area. My friend Kat is a sculputuress from Vermont who had waitressed for me in Normandy for a brief period. She does metal sculpting and wanted to do a metal lobster, so that kind of inspired the name and whole story here.


Photo via Langosta Lounge Facebook

Everything has a story for us, a journey that I want to be attached to and have roots in, not just a name that’s relevant to today. I want to feel like it has meaning for me, so I can create the passion that comes with doing this every day. Because when you’re busy and have children, and you’re trying to balance all of these things, what makes you want to keep creating? This is my art, so everything has a lot of thought that the customer might not always see, but I think that once you start following us and our brand, you kind of get it. It’s not polished, it’s very grassroots and rooted in our community and environment. With opening a new restaurant, I get to create a new menu, work with a new chef and inspire them, and lift people up; especially a lot of women in this company have been lifted up to important positions because I am a fan for women in this company. They might have not had those opportunities as easily thrown at them from the male-dominated world that I’m in. So that feels great, too.

NJMOM: What is your background in your business expertise?
Marilyn: I was supposed to go to the University of Miami for Marine Biology, that was my course when I was 17. I applied and got accepted, but Asbury Park High School lost my transcripts. So I was down in Miami trying to figure out what I was going to do with my situation and my mother got terminal cancer and they gave her about a month to live. At the time, my brother was going through a macrobiotic diet phase to try to lose weight and we did some research and found that that was a very big healer for the kind of cancer she had. So, he took her to Michio Kushi Foundation which is still in Massachusetts and one of the founding macrobiotic doctors in America. We took her there, got her on a diet, and she went into remission 100 percent within a couple months. So what I saw from that was a physical transformation of healing through food, pure food, food grown locally. The whole basis of macrobiotic is that you live in your local environment and your food is indigenous and pure to that environment, so that really changed my perspective. I was young, I was 18, it was the ‘80’s and people weren’t doing farm to table, and weren’t really focused on their environment at all, even the ocean at that point. So I got a job with Clean Ocean Action.


Photo via loveprintphotography.com

My brother had a little Japanese restaurant in Avon at the time, called Oshin. The chef didn’t show up for Fourth of July weekend on a Friday and my brother was in New York opening another restaurant. I was a waitress there, and I was young, and was like, ‘What do you want me to do?’ He said, ‘You need to cook.’ So, I did it. I cooked. I loved the energy of it, I loved the chaos that came along with being in a kitchen, and I love the heat; I’m a summer girl so I don’t mind that at all. For whatever reason, I guess every artist finds a passion in a moment, that you’re not planning on creating a painting or doing a sculpture, or creating beautiful food, it just happens like that. I can’t explain it, I didn’t think, ‘Boy, I want to be [a chef].’ I just became that.

I was driving south one day in the fall of that year and saw this ‘For Rent’ sign in Bay Head and I walked down and there was a beautiful little French cottage back there with edible flowers and herbs all around it. It was a restaurant, but the chef just up and left. The landlord said he would give it to me for something like $3,000 or $2,500 for the season, and I had about that much in my bank account, so I gave him a deposit, went home, called all my friends and said, ‘I really need help because I’m going to open a restaurant!’ And I did! I cooked out of cookbooks for probably the first month because I had never created food on my own. It got great reviews, and I just kept going and going and going.


Photo via loveprintphotography.com

NJMOM: What’s the best piece of advice your parents ever gave to you?
Marilyn: ‘Be kind,’ is one. Any time that I go back to that core value from my parents, it makes my choices come from a very positive place for me. I don’t have to feel guilty about those choices. If they’re not the right choices, I know they’re from a kind, giving place. I think my work ethic comes from my parents, too. They were self employed in the real estate business. It had a very up-and-down income, like my business, it was seasonal. They worked really hard. I have that mommy-guilt trip; I’m not home a lot, and my parents weren’t home a lot. But when they were with me, it was important to them and seeing how hard they worked to give me a good education and a roof over my head and the ability to be healthy and happy was important. That comes from them, for sure. I got very simple lessons from my parents. My father was born in 1898, so the generational gap between me and my father was huge! He grew up in an age where there were no TV’s, no airplanes, and the car was just invented, so it gave me a very stable [idea that]you don’t need all these things to be happy.

You need your family, you need your core.

NJMOM: Tell us about your kids!
Marilyn: They keep me very young at heart! I did it very late in life; I was in my late 40’s when we decided to finally have children, and twins was not something we were planning on! They’re very different – yin and yang. I think because of my environment and what I do, they are very well-adjusted. They’re around all kinds of people: different babysitters, different restaurants. They go to a school that’s a very diverse demographic, so my daughter’s the only white child in her class, honestly. They go to Nicaragua every winter, so they speak Spanish and when we’re there. We have them with a Spanish speaking babysitter so they don’t speak English with her. I’m trying to foster that mental stimulation, and I don’t speak fluent Spanish, so hopefully some day they’ll be able to translate for me! They’re wonderful kids. Probably the drawback of this world and them is that they order dinner at home like we’re in a restaurant! The other day I said to my daughter, ‘What should we call the new restaurant?’ and she said, ‘We should call it Rubi and Hari’s, and we’re going to be the chefs, but we can’t cook because the stove is too hot. We’re going to sit and tell people what to do!’

I always said from the moment I got pregnant that I was going to be the healthiest I’ve ever been in my life and I was going to put only pure things in my body. I threw out everything that had a name on it that I couldn’t pronounce, and to this day I only use coconut oil on my hair and skin. I wanted them to have the best healthy start. I made sure that I was happy throughout the process, and that I wasn’t frustrated or angry. I just wanted my kids to be happy, because I struggled a lot as a child. There were a lot of things in my life that were very difficult and I don’t want that for them. I want them to always feel safe and ebullient about life, that they feel with joy, that they see the moon and the stars, and that they don’t go through life missing what’s around them – and that they have manners, I hope!


Photo via designsponge.com

NJMOM: What are your favorite things to do in NJ with your family?
Marilyn: Honestly, my kids are great beach kids. [At other places] they’re really tough to handle. I get anxiety going to a store by myself because they don’t have boundaries or fear because of this environment. They’ll just take off and go to the park! But on the beach, they get kind of like me and will just stay put and enjoy it. They love the ocean and they both swim and are doing surfing. That’s the easiest place for me to be with them, because I don’t know a lot about being a mother, so you’re always worried about whether you are doing and saying the right thing to children, and [have the]fear if they are going to get hurt. Knock on wood, we haven’t gone to the hospital yet, which is amazing to me because Rubi is like a monkey climbing up the walls! But I don’t want to stop them from climbing up the walls because I want them to experience life because when they get to be older they’re not going to be able to climb walls – so just do it and please don’t fall down!

I love Normandy Beach, where we are at the Labrador. It’s just like being at the outer banks. I love [Asbury Park] for the ability to go get a drink and have food and go play miniature golf and do all these things. But when we’re off, we go down to Normandy and get away from the world. There are no restaurants or anything at the beach down there. In Nicaragua, where we go in the winter, is beautiful. It’s a time past. It hasn’t caught up to the modern day, so there’s a long, beautiful beach you can run around on. I’m always engaging, so when there’s downtime, we go down.


Photo via loveprintphotography.com

NJMOM: What are your favorite restaurants?
Marilyn: Mine! (Laughs) I do love my restaurants, I eat in them a lot because I really like the food in them and I also want to inspire the staff to be the best they can be. If I’m sitting a table, that makes them be on their toes. Not for them to be in fear-mode, but I want them to be great at what they do. I want them to feel good about that, and I really do love the food that we produce.

We tend to go more ethnic when we go out, to little hole-in-the-wall places that nobody ever really goes. One, to get away from everybody we know, and two, I like to learn about food from where it was intended, where the culture comes from, not where people reinvent it, because that’s what we do. I don’t want to reinvent a competitor’s thing where they’ve already gotten their inspiration and taken it where they want to go. I like to see where Grandma made pizzaiola from before I make pizzaiola. Sometimes I don’t even know the names of these places! I know there’s one on Route 9 in Lakewood I like, I know there’s an Indian place on the highway here that I like, but I don’t know what it’s called! We just know where they are and we go. Bamboo Leaf is a Thai place in Bradley Beach that we like. We try new things all the time. We’ll take a drive two hours just because we read about some restaurant; we were in Cape May last week. Sometimes we’ll take a little tour and do an appetizer here, an appetizer there, and go to a lot of restaurants because we know we don’t have a lot of time to check out a neighborhood.


Photo via Pop’s Garage Mexican Cantina Facebook

It’s also tough with kids. We have to go to restaurants that are open to our wild children, so usually they’re either really crowded restaurants or not crowded restaurants, which makes me feel bad. But that changes your whole dynamic of where you go out in the world, when you have kids. We’re not those parents that say we have to eat at this time or take a nap at this time, but you do have to be cognisant of those crash-and-burn moments that you can’t have in a nice restaurant.

NJMOM: What’s next for the Marilyn Schlossbach group?
Marilyn: The wine label [Community Vines], I really want to expand on. We’re partnering with a winemaker in Sonoma, James Foley, who I know from high school years ago and we reconnected. He has a brand called Seamus Wines that’s a higher end, but we’re trying to come in at a lower, more affordable price-point to get a whole label out to do community work for food banks with that wine.


Photo via communityvines.org

I have another toy project that I’m working on and trying to find a manufacturer to use for environmental recovery after storms. We’re doing a ketchup called Kula Ketchup that we serve in-house, but we’re going to bottle it with Rutgers and use it to raise money for the Kula Cafe. All of the projects we’re doing are sort of these social enterprises, so we’ve been talking to a lawyer about forming a B Corp and doing this kind of company that gives back by putting all these different things into the company and working with different organizations. We started our nonprofit not to be a typical nonprofit that just does one thing. We started it to be able to help other nonprofits through our existing business. We basically funnel money that we raise to other organizations and have them do the work. But we have access to a lot of people that have passions about a lot of different things. I think that we can do work without actually having to be in the field.

NJMOM: Anything else you would like to tell moms in New Jersey?
Marilyn: Being a mom is tough, it’s balance. The guilt trip that you put on yourself as a mother and fitting into the mother mold that your mother was, or somebody else’s mother is, or your friends are to their children, is a thing that I really had to come to terms with early on because we did in vitro, and did a whole process that isn’t normal, and I’m an older mom with all these businesses, so I’m not a conventional mother. I want mothers to know that you don’t have to be. You just have to be the kindest, most positive leader to your children to create them into beautiful people so they can carry the torch on. And however you do that makes us all different, and that’s what the world is; if we were all the same then that would be kind of…boring, as my daughter would say!

Every mother has a different way of mothering.

There are mothers who stay at home; that’s not for me, and that was a real guilt trip on myself that I didn’t want to be that mother that was home all the time. I didn’t have kids to be at home. I had children mainly for my husband who is a little bit younger than me, and loves having family around him. And the generation gap with my parents was big, so I don’t have a lot of cousins and family around me. So part of it was for him, and to create this family that was ours, and to hopefully create some beautiful people that can do great things in the world. But we’re doing it in a very different way than most people do, and I don’t want to be judged for that, and I don’t want to judge any mother mother for that. I want mothers to be mothers for the things inside of them that made them make that choice.


Photo via loveprintphotography.com

That’s probably my biggest advice to women; don’t be afraid to be a mom because it’s not the way that some other mom is. If you want to be a mother, be a mother. If you don’t want to be a mother, that’s fine! I have a lot of friends who don’t have kids who have become second mothers to my kids, and their choices are theirs, and ours are ours. There is a lot of influence in the world, positive and negative, for everyone in life. Especially when you turn on the TV and hear all of this rhetoric. Women have made big steps to be multiple things in life: business owners, CEO’s, stay-at-home moms. A stay-at-home mom to me is the scariest job ever! I don’t know how women do it, I give them so much credit. It’s a lot of work. So whatever you choose to be as a woman, be inspiring to the people around you.

To learn more about the Marilyn Schlossbach Group, the restaurants, and charitable projects, visit their website.
Discover mouth-watering menus, photos, and upcoming events on Facebook: Langosta Lounge, Labrador Lounge, Pop’s Garage, Asbury Park Yacht ClubMarilyn Schlossbach Catering & Events, Lightly Salted
Find out how to get involved or donate to Food for Thought by the Sea by visiting their website.

Photographs by Loveprint Photography

This interview has been edited.


About Author

Chelsea is a freelance writer and photographer based in the kid-friendly community of Asbury Park, and she loves sharing tips and news about this cultural beach town with NJMOM readers. When she's not discovering new bike trails, playing in her handbell choir, or reading on the beach, Chelsea works as a Children's Library Associate at a public library. You can catch her out in Asbury Park watching her husband play drums with talented local artists - be sure to come say hello!