Anniversaries are special, especially in a family town like Ocean City.
Celebrating a long time in business by the waves is a big accomplishment, after all. Ocean City’s was founded in 1879 (that’s 142 years ago), and businesses started to form not long after.
Some things change over the years, yet others stay the same. If you’ve been coming to Ocean City your whole life, even if you’re approaching 100… there are some establishments that have been there the entire time.
This story is the second part of a longer series highlighting the history and achievements of these beloved businesses
Eating an O.C. Sand donut from Fractured Prune while sitting in a Pessano’s beach chair while the kids play with sand toys sounds like the perfect summer day. Both businesses are celebrating anniversary years. Pessano’s is celebrating 75 years of preparing beach people for the season and Fractured Prune has been serving up delectable donuts for the past ten years.
Fractured Prune started in 2011 after Ken Jenkins and his family went on vacation.
“We started in Ocean City (NJ). We saw this concept when we were visiting Ocean City, Maryland. There are Fractured Prunes down there. We didn’t want to be a franchise. We wanted to be an independent business,” Ken said.
Their concept proved to be popular in this Ocean City, too; they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary this year.
“Our breakfast sandwiches, our donuts beyond the basics, our coffee, that’s all creations that we have developed in Ocean City,” Ken said.
They’re located on 1225 Asbury Avenue. In 2013, they collaborated to open a second location in Ocean City on 34th Street and West Avenue- a shared space with Johnny B Goode Ice Cream Parlor.
“We were approached by Jane Davis from Johnny B Goode. We thought
‘What a great combination?’” said Ken. “We do our donuts in the morning; Jane does ice cream at night.”
In 2017, they opened a store on the Wildwood Boardwalk. In 2020, they opened a Sea Isle City location.
“We started out with 15 specialty donuts. Now we’ve got 40 donuts. We’ve grown our breakfast sandwich menu. We started out with basic bacon, egg, and cheese. We have a beach burrito and a triple decker meat lovers sandwich. We’ve also expanded our beverages. Our first year, we had drip coffee. We now have specialty lattes,” said Ken.
Their donuts include Monkey Buns (honey glaze, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a vanilla drizzle), strawberry shortcake (strawberry glaze, graham crackers, and powdered sugar), and Death by Chocolate (chocolate glaze, mini chips, Oreo, and chocolate sprinkles).
Ken, along with his wife Joanne and their four kids run the four Fractured Prune locations.
“The kids grew up in this business. It’s been a very rewarding experience. We feel blessed with the support from our fans and family. We’re looking forward to serving the next generation of Fractured Prune fans.”
Pessano’s Variety Store
Pessano’s Variety Store, 801 3rd Street, has been around for 75 years. Though the “Variety” in their name signifies the products they carry in the shop today from sundries to beach items to games, it could also describe the many iterations of the shop over the years. Pessano’s was once a pharmacy, sold ice cream, and even had a deli inside.
“It started in 1946. My grandfather, William, was a pharmacist. He moved the family to Ocean City and bought a corner pharmacy. There was a soda fountain in here,” said Andrew Pessano, owner.
At one point in time, they even had a deli for a few years. It was run by Andrew’s aunt, MaryJane.
Andrew’s dad, David, took over in the ‘60s and wasn’t a pharmacist.
“Early on when he was the second generation, they sold a lot of over the counter medicines. It stayed that way for the years they ran it. They did
have gifts and toys but not to the level that it is today,” said Andrew. In the 1970s, David expanded Pessano’s up to the Boardwalk. He had two locations: 1320 Boardwalk (Aloha Soft Serve’s current location) and 1130 Boardwalk. The stores remained on the Boards until 1985.
At the turn of the century, Andrew took over the business.
“I graduated college in May 2001 and opened (the 3rd Street store) on Memorial Day Weekend,” said Andrew.
Less than a decade later, Pessano’s moved back into its 1130 Boardwalk location, only recently leaving at the end of the 2020 season.
“It was 25 years [since dad left the Boardwalk] and then I went back up there.”
This year, Andrew is focused on the original 3rd Street location. He’s expanding it to include a sport that’s growing in popularity – pickleball.
Landing Creek Pickleball will be in Pessano’s back room – a 150-200 square foot space that was formerly used as an office and for inventory.
“Landing Creek Pickleball is a very new business. I’ve been selling paddles through Pessano’s. The business is exploding and I saw the opportunity to fill the void. People are receptive,” said Andrew. “This is my 21st season. I’ve done two major remodels over the years. I introduced tons of different things, I’ve tried new things. Retail is difficult. If you stay the same, you don’t last. You have to adapt to trends. It’s the most important thing in retail. In mom and pop retailer – listen to your customers.”
Find this story and more in our June magazine.