Meet Jill Weber! Jill was born and raised in Michigan City, IN. She was born to travel and fulfilled that destiny by becoming an archaeologist. Jill spent most of her career working in Syria, but has also worked in Turkey, Armenia, Oman, and now Iraq and Italy. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two cats, but has a beach house and family here in the dunes. She gets back as often as she can. Jill owns 3 restaurants: Jet Wine Bar, Rex 1516, and Cafe Ynez.
What brought you to the dunes? I was born here! I no longer live in the area, but my entire family still does. So, my husband and I bought a house in Sheridan Beach about 10 years ago; we spend time there at Christmas and vacation a few weeks in the summer.
How long have you lived here? My whole life – until I left for Northwestern in 1988, and then graduate school in Philadelphia in 1992. I do miss my family, friends, and the lake, so I try to come back frequently – which ends up only being a few weeks a year.
What is your favorite thing to do in the area? Enjoy the beach – regardless of the season or even of the weather. Growing up, I didn’t really explore enough and mostly spent my “dunes” time at the beach in the summer. Now, I don’t care what the season is, I go out to the beach daily, or explore trails in the dunes.
Tell us a secret about the dunes. It has an incredibly high level of biological diversity. Not just flora and fauna, but also its collection of swamps, dunes, bogs… It seems there is everything! I love all the birds, and it is always fun to see owls on the Cowles Bog trail.
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)
a) Cowles Bog Trail – it is a good, varied trail that leads to the lake. The effect of a fairly steep uphill-climb with sudden views of the lake is most compelling in the winter, I think.
b) Kayak from Stop 2 to Bridges Restaurant – This is a fun trip around the lighthouse, through the harbor, and under the swing bridge. Bridges has a dock and we can pull right up and have lunch or a beer.
c) Shady Creek Winery – nice wine and a good place to have a glass or two with friends.
What would you like to teach people about the dunes? Mind the stability imparted by the dune grass, please. So many people feel the need to go off-trail – even on the short, Stop 2 path to the beach – and then all these eroding, bare swaths emerge. I wish people would consider the impact of their actions.
Anything else? Now that I live away from the Dunes, I miss them quite a lot. Philly has the Jersey Shore, but that is a 60 min drive – and of course the sand isn’t quite as nice! Nonetheless, I like the East Coast. If anyone is out this way, come visit me at any of my restaurants: Jet Wine Bar, Rex 1516, or Cafe Ynez!