Sunday, August 10, 2008

New Owners at Mac's & Tucker's

New Owners at Mac’s and Tucker’s

Landmark Mac’s and Tucker’s restaurants in Somers Point have changed hands, with new owners who intend to keep them open year ‘round.

Mac’s, which has kept its famous name for over a half-century, will retain the name and try to return to its glory years, while Tucker’s is now Fanucci’s, owned by Richard Fanucci of Vineland and Seaview Harbor.

Mac’s new owner Harry Kleinman, used to own Booker’s Seafood at 9th and Wesley Avenue in Ocean City, a mainstay for family tourists that fell to the condo craze. Kleinman is looking to bring back some of the old Mac’s menu items and comfortable club atmosphere that made it popular with Ocean City’s year ‘round residents who often dined there more than once a week.

Kleinman has also added live music, bringing in Jacque Major to play upstairs on Wednesday nights and may increase the live music other nights of the week as well.

Fanucci’s, which opened in April, takes over from Joe Tucker, and is keeping the Italian flavored menu with steaks and seafood, and adding another small bar, a wine rack and may introduce piano music for your dining pleasure.

New Fanucci’s chef Michael Weiss doesn’t have to learn to cook Italian, as he’s been working at TreFiglio, the popular Italian restaurant on the White Horse Pike. Richard Fanucci brought some Serra Sausage with him from Vineland, and other local culinary treats can be expected.

Fanucci’s manager Maryanne Stankiewicz, who previously worked at the Grand and the Lobster House in Cape May, says that the Bed & Breakfast rooms upstairs will be open in August, the deck bar will be revamped, and the new owner will be involved in the marina’s operations as well. Dr. Ira Trocki is still part owner of the marina.

Both Mac’s and Fanucci’s are local landmarks, with controversial histories.

Originally owned by "Mac" MacGronigle, who operated an open clam bar on the adjacent alley, Mac’s was taken over by the Previtti family, who began as food and produce wholesalers in Atlantic City. The Previtti family operated Mac’s for over fifty years before selling to developers a few years ago.

In a deal with the city to keep the restaurant, the developers were permitted to build a condo higher than normally permitted in the parking lot across the street, but neighbor’s complaints and a civil suit resulted in delays until the project was recently approved. In the meantime, the restaurant was sold to Philadelphia bar owners who remodeled the place, but failed to find their niche. After only one year they sold to Kleinman.

The original developers, who own Swanky Bubbles champagne bar on Front street in Old City Philadelphia, also paid over a million dollars for a Cherry Hill liquor license and have put the parking lot up for sale.

Fanucci’s has an even older and more controversial history. Originally the Point Pub, and one of the city’s most popular restaurants for decades before World War II, the Point Pub liquor license was sold in the early 1960s and moved to the Somers Point Shopping Center, leaving Ernie’s Marina there for thirty some years.

John Mayer, sold his Mayer’s Marina down the street (now Somers Point Marina) and bought and completely renovated the historic building that is adjacent to the Somers Point beach. Opening Mayer’s Bed & Breakfast, and a private yacht club for members only, Mayer needed a liquor license to be successful and eventually sold to Dr. Ira Trocki as a distressed property. Trocki also purchased Brownie’s, the former Tony Marts, and then moved the liquor license to Mayer’s. John Mayer and his wife left the business for Florida, and Trocki sold the bar and restaurant to Joe Tucker, keeping the marina for his other business, the Egg Harbor Yacht Company.

Tucker upgraded the restaurant’s kitchen to a new level, and operated a popular place, but he was disappointed in the lack of retail stores on Bay Avenue, which he thought necessary to get the year ‘round business he needed.

The deck at Fenucci’s is much smaller than the Inlet deck, but it is popular in the summer nights, though not so popular with the neighbors who recently bought million dollar condos nearby, and have complained about the noise from the deck. Fanucci is trying to work something out where they can operate a successful deck and accommodate the neighbors at the same time.

Mac’s and Fanucci’s, two new bars and restaurants in legendary, landmark buildings, each with a unique history and each with new owners who hope to keep their businesses open on a year ‘round basis.

[William Kelly can be reached at ]


mimi1020 said...

fanucci's is so distcusting. Bad food, bad owner guy. He tried to pick me up while he was wasted at the bar. grose!!

The Lashers said...

My wife and I are going on vacation to Ocean City in a couple of weeks. We are looking for a nice restaurant to celebrate our anniversary. Any recommendations?