Inkwell Coffeehouse Remains a Beloved Constant

The iconic Long Branch spot has been serving generations of patrons since 1965.

Photo by Tiago Lino via Pexels

Down the shore, some things never change. In Long Branch, that would include the Inkwell Coffeehouse, an iconic West End gathering place since 1965 that remains a favorite among local musicians, poets and undergrads from nearby Monmouth University.

Kathy Molloy of Ocean cherishes memories of drinking Dutch coffee at the Inkwell with her buddy Marta and other girlfriends after nights out. That was in the mid-1980s. Now her 21-year-old daughter carries on the tradition.

“It’s cool to share the Inkwell with another generation,” says Molloy.

Of course, not everything about the Inkwell has stayed the same. In 1979, it moved to its current location in a Dutch Colonial on Second Avenue, two blocks from the boardwalk. In summer, regulars grab an outdoor table on the front porch or the side patio. Inside, colored lights twinkle and whimsical art adorns the dark-painted walls. Live music fills the patio on open-mic nights in the summertime.

While owner Anthony Esposito acknowledges the Inkwell has evolved during his 18 years at the helm, he’s careful to preserve the classics. You can still order basic breakfast fare, grilled sandwiches and tempting desserts. But in recent years, the young staff has added vegan options, as well as smoothies and 12 blended-coffee choices, known as Inkacino’s.

Brendan Gillespie of Manasquan frequents the Inkwell with his bandmates after almost every gig. He’s comfortable here; the servers know him by name.

“It’s so underground,” says Gillespie, “but at the same time not underground at all, because everyone knows about it.”

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