For the past year, I've been putting a spotlight on small businesses around the Garden State. Every once in a while, Jodi and I get a chance to have a more relaxing dinner, typically if the last event for the day is a dinner close to home!

This week, we joined my friend George Gilmore and state Sen. Bob Singer with a packed crowd at a special dinner for the Ocean County Republicans. We were seated next to incoming Senate Republican Leader Tony Bucco and had a great conversation about the future of New Jersey and what it could mean if we replace the current majority. Stay tuned for more on my plan to work with several legislators to push through a common sense, practical agenda to start addressing NJ's worst problems.

For now, I have to mention the great food at Charlie's of Bay Head.

It's hard to serve a large group and get the timing, temperature, and quality perfect. The staff at Charlie's did it this week as they have every time we've been there as a guest.

Jodi had the pan-roasted chicken breast and I had the pecan-crusted salmon. Delicious and cooked perfectly, it was easy to join the clean plate club.

If you're not headed to an event and are just looking for a friendly, upscale bar scene or special occasion dinner, Charlie's is your place.

Parking is easy (at least in the off-season!) and the expansive restaurant can accommodate a large private room party or a romantic dinner for two. My advice? Get there before the summer crush!

When you're not in the mood for fancy dining, how about a food truck?

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The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.

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