Johnny’s Cafe & Bar in Margate City is owned and operated by John and Giovanna Liccio, both of whom were born and raised in South Philadelphia and have a background in dining and hospitality. At the young age of 12, John started working at the Litto Pastry Shop, where he gained the experience and knowledge that he still puts to use for each dessert in all of his restaurants. He earned respect and praise as a true baker, designing and baking hundreds of specialty cakes for any occasion. John always had an interest in owning a business “down the shore” but knew to wait for the right time and right idea. Fast forward to 1992, with John, on the path to South Jersey, landing in Washington Township. With hard work and a keen business sense, John opened his own pastry shop and became known as one of the premier bakers in the area.
More than 10 years later, John, with his wife Giovanna, expanded to Ventnor City. Giovanna, a devoted wife to John and mother to their daughter Nina, brings a strong background in hospitality from working in and managing restaurants and nightclubs for over 20 years, including some of Philadelphia’s most popular Italian restaurants and the city’s hottest bars and nightclubs. Drawing upon their combined business experience, in 2005 they moved to Ventnor Avenue where they opened “Cookies & Cream,” a full-service pastry shop and ice cream parlor. In December 2008, after surviving and staying open through slow winter seasons, the Liccios decided to introduce a BYOB food establishment to the venue and offered a small prix-fixe menu. Word spread fast about the amazing food, and Johnny’s Cafe was founded. With Giovanna managing front-of-house operations and John in the kitchen, Johnny’s Café soon became a priority dining spot with locals and visitors alike. With limited space and the growing demand for seating, John’s dream was about to be fulfilled. In March 2009, John and Giovanna closed the Ventnor location and purchased a building in Margate with the amount of kitchen and seating space they desired and opened a new Johnny’s Cafe. The power couple went on to purchase a liquor license from the city, which was a contributing factor to the great success of Johnny’s Café.
With the larger location and a growing customer base, John managed the details in the kitchen and concentrated on the food. Giovanna created and designed the gorgeous dining room and bar, in addition to all front-of-house procedures. She is also hands-on in the kitchen with John, creating eye-pleasing food presentations and selecting the different types of garnish paired with each individual dish. Come the holidays, whether it’s an 8-foot-tall gold Santa Claus or custom Valentine’s Day lighting fixtures in the windows, Johnny’s Cafe is known for over-the-top decorations. At each holiday or special occasion there is always a fresh centerpiece for the dining room tables or a new specialty themed cocktail. Johnny’s has evolved over the years, and the Liccios’ menus and dining room are a reflection of their dedication to creating a pleasurable experience for their patrons.
The combination of the husband-and-wife partnership has brought much success to the Liccios. They now own and still personally operate three restaurants: Johnny’s Cafe, Shuckers Bar & Grille and Tipsy Taco & Tequila.
Aside from this husband-and-wife family, the Liccios also think of their loyal staff who have been with them throughout the years as part of their family.
Johnny's Cafe, 9407 Ventnor Ave.; Shuckers, 9403 Ventnor Ave.; Tipsy Taco, 9401 Ventnor Ave.; all in Margate; JohnnysCafeVentnor.com