HomeMedford News'It's been a good run'

‘It’s been a good run’

Chef takes leave after 28 years of feeding Shamong and Medford at his diner

Courtesy of Manny Monteiro
Like old times at Camp Ockanickon, where he cooked for campers, Chef Manny Monteiro (in orange center) welcomed some of those kids as he retires from ownership of the Shamong Diner and Restaurant.

Chef Manny Monteiro has decided to hang up his chef’s hat after 42 years – 28 of them in the Medford and Shamong communities.

He was first the food services director for what is now the YMCA of the Pines in Medford, spending a decade there before working for 18 years as chef and owner of the Shamong Diner and Restaurant.

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For Monteiro, opening the diner had been a dream come true. He came to America from India to “get the hang of the American terminology” in the culinary arts field. And on Dec. 31, he said goodbye to a dream accomplished.

“It’s been a good run,” he said.

It was 2006 when Monteiro got an opportunity to purchase the diner.

“When we came in, we redid the outside and inside and made changes to the menu,” he recalled.

With his culinary expertise, Monteiro established a vegetarian menu and later an array of Indian food.

“We were one of the first diners to offer a vegetarian menu,” he noted, making it a “very diverse vast menu.”

During his almost two decade run at the diner, Monteiro could be seen in the kitchen – day in and day out – cooking and prepping the meals. The vegetarian menu was inspired somewhat by his time feeding kids at Camp Ockanickon at the YMCA in Medford.

“There were no vegetarian options,” remembered Monteiro, who transformed a cheese sandwich into a veggie cheesesteak for the campers. “They loved it. The vegetarian menu was a good route to go … then the addition of Indian food.”

As COVID slowly lifted, Monteiro said one of his employees suggested an Indian night.

“I was a bit hesitant, but it took off.”

As he got closer to retirement, Monteiro said goodbye to the many community members who have essentially become his family.

“I’m going to miss my customers,” he related, adding that he cherishes the many relationships he made over 28 years in the YMCA community and at his restaurant.

“The kids that I knew from camp brought their kids in to wish me well …” he said. “It’s all the same community.”

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