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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

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Family Ice Cream Business Fosters Faith

Don Long Jr. is glad to carry on his parents’ tradition as a Christian businessman in Wildwood. 

By Rachel Rogish

WILDWOOD – “No matter how bad things get, it will get better,” Don Long Jr. reflected June 24.  

Grit and a “can-do” attitude go a long way, especially where aging parents and family businesses are concerned.  

Long, 66, understands life’s ups and downs but works to take them in stride. Anchored in faith, Long continues building and maintaining his family’s legacy at Duffer’s Restaurant, in Wildwood.  

Clams to Ice Cream  

Born in 1955, Long is the oldest of three sons born to Don Long Sr. and Dorothy Long. His mother’s parents came from Sweden in the early 1930s. His paternal grandmother came to Philadelphia from England.  

Two sets of immigrants seeking a better life shaped Long’s heritage. Hard-working and industrious, both sides of his family settled in Wildwood.  

“It was nice,” Long said, while describing his childhood.  

“The stores were all in town then. It was good,” he added.  

Long grew up alongside his father, helping him in various schemes and ventures. 

“You name it, I’ve done it,” Long said.  

From working in the family clam business to fixing cars, Long came to entrepreneurship honestly. One of his first jobs at Duffers was making homemade ice cream, in the 1970s.  

“I was always here,” Long explained.  

Carrying the Torch  

Christian faith underpins Long’s life and journey. He is an active attendee at the First Baptist Church of Anglesea, in North Wildwood. His mother is also a member and enjoys attending Bible studies and Sunday services.  

“If you don’t have the Lord, you don’t have anything,” Long said.  

Principles from the Bible shape Long’s business philosophy. Working with other people requires patience and fairness, while providing employment helps families year after year.  

Long’s brother, Douglas, and sister-in-law, Regina, also help keep the business running.  

The vintage décor is more than a throwback to yesteryear, according to Long. He sees it as providing a wholesome atmosphere for families. He not only accrues revenue, but also gives a sense of moral values.  

“This is my parent’s legacy. We’ve been here almost 50 years,” Long explained.  

The Long family offered Christian literature for patrons to take and read, pre-Covid. The literature was free for anyone to take and read about Jesus’ love and the Gospel message. 

Questions and Hope 

Long’s passion is electronics, which serves him well in the restaurant’s game room. Yet, although he could pursue another path, Long is glad to remain in Wildwood. With a family of his own, his greatest hope for them is their happiness.  

Late nights and busy summers place strain on anyone in the hospitality industry. Summer 2020 tested Long’s mettle, but he is encouraged by the crowds thus far in 2021.  

“We have nothing to compare it to,” Long said.  

Expanding online ordering and adjusting to less staff are part of Long’s “new normal.”  

“Without faith, I wouldn’t have my sanity,” Long confessed.  

He remains confident in God’s help for a full economic recovery.  

He also “looks out” for his mother and strives to pass down the values she instilled in him. Don Sr. passed away in 2015, leaving the challenging task of filling the patriarch’s shoes.  

Long draws comfort and courage from Jesus Christ’s example.  

“Jesus questioned the Father, but He did what He had to do,” he explained.  

For those who question life, Long encourages them to “do the best you can,” while trusting that all will unfold as it should.  

“Work as hard as you can,” he added.  

Life may not be easy, but the rewards of perseverance are sweeter than ice cream.  

Faith Matters is an ongoing series exploring the connection between individuals and their faith, impacting their families, community, and beyond. Those with a story of faith to share shouldcontactthewriteratrrogish@cmcherald.com. 

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