In Atlantic City Weekly's new nightlife feature, we scour the brains of local barkeeps for insider 'tips' and ask them to introduce themselves to our readers.
Early in 2004, a need was recognized to create a place that sort of captured the essence of Atlantic City’s historic Ducktown section — a place you could stop in any time of day or night, know you’re going to be in a safe and sociable atmosphere, imbibe in a few drinks or grab a bite to eat, and feel like you’re almost among family.
It may seem like sort of a starry-eyed, exceedingly ambitious task to tackle, but John Exadaktilos and his family pulled it off. The Ducktown Tavern — the end result of tying a tired old taproom and adjacent hash house together via a year-and-a-half-long renovation project — debuted in July 2005 and has become a gem among locals and frequent Atlantic City-area visitors.
The 24-hour establishment serves hearty and affordable fare, features about 20 beers on tap including nearly a dozen crafts and seasonals, and has three Happy hours from 11am-1pm, 4-7pm and 3-5am daily. There’s also an attached liquor and package-goods store.
Perhaps Ducktown Tavern’s best asset is a knowledgeable staff that includes several who have helped open the establishment in 2005, and who resonate the personable and professional demeanor that management demands.
Brian Ireland is a Ducktown bartender and lifelong Ventnor resident who, at age 26, can already claim eight years as a professional mixologist and amateur advice dispenser. His service industry career started as a busboy turned waiter at the Wonder Bar — an Albany Avenue, Atlantic City mainstay — who was promoted to bartender at age 18. Atlantic City Weekly spoke to Ireland on a recent weekday at the Ducktown.
What’s the Ducktown like on a typical day?
We get a lot of locals in here but we still see lots of tourists who come from all over the place — New York, Philly, Delaware — and when they’re visiting Atlantic City they come here to the Ducktown. This is like the hub or headquarters for a lot of people — before you go out, when you go out, after you go out, maybe even before you go to work since we’re always open. It’s mostly locals and regulars, and a lot of them are pretty colorful characters.
Do you ever see celebrities stopping by after performing, gambling or seeing a show in the casinos?
"Basically every summer there’s a shot that becomes the “shot of the summer” that you end up making all summer long, and I’ll often suggest that."
“We saw this coming and we’re well prepared to grow it for the next 10 or 15 years. This is a whole transition we’re living through.”
“One of my regulars, a local guy I’ve known for about 10 years, came in late at night this past weekend all upset. He said ‘Gia, you wouldn’t believe what just happened to me 10 minutes ago.'"
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