POINT PLEASANT BEACH – Molly Kastner, owner and operator of Molly Boards in Point Pleasant Beach, got her first taste of working a family business as a youngster when she helped run a catering business started by her grandparents called Byrnes Family Catering.
“My grandfather started that catering company,” Kastner said. “Everyone in our family worked that business, from my aunts and uncles to all my cousins and siblings. Growing up as kids, that’s where we went and we started as dishwashers as young as 12 or 13, just going to help out.
“The business was based out of East Brunswick and Spotswood,” Kastner said. “It was all family and we covered weddings and events like that, which we absolutely loved doing. Most of the places were local, but we still put 100% effort into every event we covered because we were so dedicated to doing a fantastic job. It was a win-win for me and my younger siblings because we got to make some easy money and hang out with Grandma and Grandpa.
“My grandparents got older and the catering business was not as busy as it once was, so I migrated into waitressing and bartending,” Kastner said. “I’ve been in the food industry my whole life and loved it. I was around 14 or 15 when I started doing that and I worked at the O.B. Diner in Point Pleasant for two years, where I started learning how to deal with customers and people. I realized how to manage all of the different things that people wanted and expected from me in that position.
“In all my years in the restaurant business, I accumulated a lot of experience,” Kastner said. “With that experience, came a strong work ethic because, for the most part, I worked long hours, so I had to pay a lot of attention to detail and also practice cleanliness around my fellow employees. Even though I wasn’t there for a long period of time, I enjoyed learning about the business itself and took in a lot of information about how to function in that job.”
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Becoming a ‘foodie’
After leaving her first job at the diner, Kastner went to work at a restaurant called Lastrada. It was similar to her grandparents’ catering company because it was a family atmosphere and everyone knew each other.
“That was a big one for me,” Kastner said. “It was an Italian/Portuguese restaurant and I continued my learning process there. It was a family-owned business back then and I had a really great relationship with my boss. It was the first time we had family meals and there was a sense of unity in that restaurant. It was a great place to work. It was a lot of hard work, but it was also a great learning experience.
“That was when I really became a foodie,” Kastner said. “I able to experience different cultures there and the food was different than what I grew up around and wasn’t ever able to experience. I tried food there that I never would normally try. I worked there for years, even when I was in college and I would pick up some shifts here and there while in school. I really valued my time there.”
Kastner went on to attend Ocean County College and Kean University, where she would earn a bachelor’s degree in general education.
“I was a little lost at that point because my heart was not in the teaching space,” Kastner said. “I bartended for a little while at that time, until I had a desire to go to hair school. It was just so hard to get a teaching job at that time, so I pursued cutting hair. After I finished Paul Mitchell beauty school, I worked for free at the very same school I trained to become a professional hairstylist to pay down my schooling debt there.
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“They were so great and I worked there for about a year and a half,” Kastner said. “I eventually decided to teach cutting hair because I had such a great time doing that trade that I wanted to put my teaching degree to good use. I ended up working for that company that I trained at nationally, which means that I taught cutting hair to students all over the country. I studied cosmology at Paul Mitchell The School Jersey Shore and then continued advanced training to become a national educator for John Paul Mitchell Systems. I did that all the way up until the pandemic in 2020.”
In 2020, when the pandemic hit, Kastner was unable to continue teaching. Eventually, she was able to participate in online sessions, but it just wasn’t the same.
“Everything was more virtual and that just didn’t cut it,” Kastner said. “I just didn’t have the same rewarding feeling doing the job. The one-on-one physical response just was not there. It got to a point to where it was not fulfilling for me to really enjoy my job. It’s a whole different way of teaching between online and in person. It’s a deal breaker for me.
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“After making the decision to not teach virtually anymore, I took some time off, but I did have plans to return at some point, which I decided against ultimately,” Kastner said. “Even though I had all these different jobs at different times in my life, I always, from a young age, had a passion for making charcuterie boards.”
During a party in December 2020, a friend recommended to Kastner to start selling them as a business.
“I thought to myself, maybe these really could sell,” Kastner said. “I started doing it from home, but I eventually went out and rented a commercial kitchen in Point Pleasant and just like that, Molly Boards was born. We don’t have a storefront, so we prepare everything for either delivery for catering events or curbside pick-up from the kitchen we work out of. Either way, we have a strong following for our charcuterie boards and people seem to love them a whole lot.
“It’s been wonderfully wild,” Kastner said. “When we first started this, it was right in the thick of the pandemic. My original goal was to help out as many local businesses as I could that were hurting from the pandemic itself. That’s exactly what we did and we have succeeded thus far. We do so many things and we want to keep up the pace.”
Molly Boards break down into different combinations of foods.
“We do boxes, platters, boards and sandwiches mainly,” Kastner said. “We do individual boxes that people use as favors, which consist of little meat and cheese snacks, up to 12-foot live-edge spreads which we make on location. We do weddings, bridal showers, corporate events and baby showers, just to name a few. All the charcuterie food we offer comes in many forms and styles, but everything we put together comes out a success and we are proud of everything we make.”
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Kastner has started to collaborate with an organic blueberry farm in Ocean County called Full Blues, where she is the artistic director.
“We have done things with Molly Boards, but our abilities to connect with businesses like Full Blues are a testament to our overall objective to help support local businesses as a whole. We couldn’t be happier.”
Owner: Molly Kastner
Location: Point Pleasant Beach