It’s summertime, and that means it’s time to indulge in beachfront snack shack dining. So what’s not to love about one that features burgers, dogs, and ice cream – particularly when they’re made with only the best ingredients?
Schultzy’s Snack Shack is a family affair many years in the making. Owners Deb and Kurt Schultz are both Rhode Island restaurant veterans with more than 30 years experience in fine dining. For more than ten years they knew that they wanted to do their own thing, something more casual, cost-conscious and family friendly. They also wanted an ocean view, which can be quite a challenge to find at an affordable price.
“This location became available and was in a budget range, but it required a lot of work,” Deb Schultz says. It took a year, a complete gutting of the space, and five dumpsters filled with materials stripped out of the building to get to opening day this past May.
Deb served as general contractor and laborer during the renovations. “The community was great. They were out here every day watching us do the ren- ovations. They’d say, ‘it would be nice to have ice cream here’ or ‘it would be nice to have something other than seafood here.’” The Schultz family took that advice and developed a small menu with high-quality ingredients, which Deb calls “stupid good,” simple ingredients that are the very best they can source.
The top-selling dinner items are their 100% Angus beef Shack Burger with cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato and Shack Sauce ($5) and their Chicago Dog and Chili Dog. The Chicago Dog is the more expensive of the two, at $3, and is topped with cucumber, tomato, pickles, mustard, onion, relish, celery salt and sport peppers.
The ice cream is from Gifford’s Ice Cream of Maine, whose ice cream beat out other purveyors in side-by-side taste tests. “It is creamier and lasts on the palate longer than other ice creams,” Schultz says. “You wouldn’t know this if you just ordered an ice cream and walked away, but when you’re tasting ice creams side by side, it becomes very clear who’s the winner.” Schultz enlisted her contractors, neighborhood children, grandparents and parents to weigh in on the ice creams, and Gifford’s won the popular vote.
It’s not just the flavor and the creaminess that makes it a big hit with the kids and parents alike. “I’ve had moms tell me that they just love it. Their kid comes home from school, does his homework and his chores right away because he’s looking forward to get- ting an ice cream here,” she says, “and then the whole family can come down. They come with their children, meet up with the grandparents. It’s a very family-friendly place.”
Family friendly indeed: Deb and Kurt’s children Karrah and Jason both work at Schultzy’s Snack Shack. Karrah works with Deb managing the front of the house and Jason works in the kitchen. Kurt, who is the Executive Chef at Atlantic Beach Club, does all of the ordering and manages the kitchen, and Deb’s mother helps with the bookkeeping. Add to that, the Schultz family has hired 11 neighborhood children to work at Schultzy’s this summer helping them to learn about food service and food safety as well as providing a fun, friendly work environment when summer jobs can be scarce.
Look for the menu to expand down the line, too, and for it to reflect the local flavor. The next item expected to be added to the menu? “Look for chourico with peppers and onions,” says Deb. 346 Park Avenue, Portsmouth. 401-683- 2663.