Atlantic city is known for its possibilities. The possibility of hitting the jackpot at the casino. The possibility of becoming the powerhouse of the East Coast again. The possibility of rebuilding when natural disasters strike (even greater than before). In the midst of all these possibilities, what about something you can rely on any day, any time. What about Ducktown Tavern?
On the corner of North Georgia Avenue and Atlantic Avenue, you’ll find a place that locals call home and tourists are beginning to venture to. Officially opened on July 18th, 2005, Ducktown Tavern has become a 24-hour hot spot for all walks of life.
Sitting down with President (owner) John Exadaktilos and Vice President (GM) Susan “Sue” Gifford, Heady Times was able to get a look into the past, present, and future of this “new-aged Cheers” bar.
Heady Times (HT): How did you come up with the name Ducktown Tavern?
John Exadaktilos (JE):Leaving White House Subs with a couple of contractors, I saw a homemade sign that said “Parking for Ducktown Only” and it just rang a bell.
Sue Gifford (SG): He called me and he said ‘What are the boundaries of Ducktown?” and I told him. He said what do you think about this name?
JE: The original Ducktown was Missouri Avenue to Texas Avenue, Ocean to Bay. It was like Atlantic City’s “Little Italy”. This was where all of the Italians were.
HT: Were you always a 24-hour location?
JE: No. During ’05-’06 it was a transition year. My dad’s place, Somers Point Diner, has been a 24-hour location for 30 years. Never closed. I was getting hammered to do it. A lot of the late-night guys were complaining how they had nowhere to go, eat, or hangout after their shift. On January 3rd, 2006, we went 24-hours serving food and drinks. Everything else just fell into place.
HT: What type of crowd does the Ducktown Tavern draw in?
JE: We are 85% local.
SG: That’s been shifting though. With the ambassadors in the city, and people wanting to eat at more local places, we’ve seen an increase in tourist traffic. Which is nice. Normally, in the summer we are quieter because people want to be outside, but last summer we saw more tourists coming in because they wanted to try something new. We also have a good reputation with law enforcement and first responders. Being that our electricity is on the same grid as the hospitals, we never lose our power. This allows us to help the fire department, the police department, and the news stations when we get horrible weather. We’re able to feed them, give them a place to rest, and help them out while they help the community. We really respect what our first responders do and we’ll try to help anyway we can.
JE: We don’t flood either.
HT: How do you keep managing to be a successful bar, even with the declining economic status of Atlantic City?
JE: We keep changing based on the needs of our customers. We changed to 24-Hours when late-night workers needed a place to eat after their long shifts. We started to cater after we successfully catered the Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum concert. Now, we cater for everything that you can think of from birthdays, events at Stockton University, funerals, and community events. Sue is the quarter back behind all of the catering. She sets up all of the food, and everything that is needed for it to run as smoothly as possible.
SG:Our staff is a family. They help each other out. That’s why we work. This is the place that everyone wants to work, and everyone wants to be.
HT:What does the future of Ducktown Tavern Entail?
JE: We now own the back parking lot, so we would like to do some big things out there. This summer is going to be big. Just Wait!
SG: We want to include a beer garden with live music. We can do anything like that in the back lot now year-round. We can put up a tent, add some heaters, and have parties.