Saturday night I sat at dinner with a few friends, discussing the restaurants that we thought were best in New Jersey.

Sushi spots, pizza, places, ethnic foods, etc. But when it came to hotdogs, everyone agreed on one spot. The Windmill.

I was so surprised because I was in a group from places all over New Jersey.

I had no idea that other people knew where the Windmill was since I grew up with it.

Google Maps
Google Maps

I always took the Windmill for granted, because it was always a mile or so from where I lived. The Windmill was not just a restaurant though.

It was a destination spot. Whenever people would come in to visit from other states, we would always take them to the Windmill because it was something to see as well as to taste.

On hot summer nights, we would sit in the terrace above the restaurant overlooking ocean Avenue in Long Branch just because it was cool to sit behind that huge illuminated windmill.

Facebook/Windmill Hotdogs
Facebook/Windmill Hotdogs

Forget about having the best cheese fries in the entire state, the Windmill was where you could find all your college friends hanging out, we could stop in with your family, or even with a date.

I will never forget the night I bumped into Bruce Springsteen and his then-new bride, Julianne Phillips, eating a burger at the Windmill. That solidified how popular the place was.

Facebook/Windmill Hotdogs
Facebook/Windmill Hotdogs

When I moved from California to New Jersey, in the '70s, Windmill was just in its infancy.

I would bring my friends from high school there just to show them how cool it was. Mind you, they only lived in Asbury Park, which wasn’t too far away, but since we all had just gotten our driver's licenses, many had never ventured down Ocean Avenue in Long Branch.

The first place a lot of us drove to when we were given that ultimate token of teenage freedom, the driver's license, was straight to the Windmill.

Facebook/Windmill Hotdogs
Facebook/Windmill Hotdogs

Thousands of people have driven in and out of that parking lot over the years and the owners announced last week that they’re getting ready to sell the place.

Eric Scott quoted the owners, Rena and Steven Levine in his article in last week:

"Though bittersweet, as a family, we have made the difficult decision to sell The WindMill restaurants," the couple wrote, "Since 1976, we have had the honor of serving you delicious food that made us a Jersey Shore icon."

And serving memories galore.

But the good news is that the restaurant owners intend to keep the place exactly as it was. So the memories can continue. And new ones can be made.

You can read Eric Scott's post about the Windmill here.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco only.

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