In Atlantic City, at least one watering hole stayed dry in the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy.
Bar owner John Exadaktilos said that in the storm’s aftermath, you could step outside his business and see water three feet deep 100 yards to the south, and a foot deep to the north.
Yet his establishment, Ducktown Tavern, remained “bone dry.”
“Don’t know how, don’t know why,” a frantically busy Exadaktilos told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. “Sand is above fire hydrants, water, it’s disgusting. Fortunately, we were not touched. I am not damaged. A little bit of wind damage to my building, but that’s it.”
Exadaktilos was on his third beer-run since Monday, the day Sandy made landfall. He estimates that he’s slept 10 hours, tops. He and his employees have been working at Ducktown –- one of only two eateries that stayed open through the storm -- serving other holdouts who refused to evacuate the Atlantic City shore.
When he’s not picking up beer from his other bar in Somers Point to keep his Atlantic City business running, he and his friends are driving trucks from his tow-truck company, hauling away Ducktown’s trash because there’s no one to come pick it up.
“So, we just strap on our big-boy pants and ride through it,” he said. “My staff, my friends, I tell you, if I could shut it down for a week and fly ‘em all to Maui, I would.”
There’s no way to account for how Exadaktilos’ tavern was spared from almost all of Sandy’s wrath, said Linda Gilmore, spokeswoman for Atlantic County.
The hard-hit city is under a boil-water advisory and a mandatory evacuation order that Gov. Chris Christie put in place, Gilmore said. Portions of the area still have no lights, power or traffic signals, and about 32,000 people in the county are still without electricity.
“There were several feet of water in the streets, in people’s homes, I mean, two to three feet of sand in the middle of the street,” she said of the tavern’s escape. “I don’t really have an explanation. But luckily for him, he’s one of the fortunate ones.”
There never seemed to be any question whether Ducktown was going to remain open. Minutes before Sandy swept over the Jersey shore, the bar was open, with a couple of police officers and regulars dining inside.
The eye of the storm passed over Exadaktilos’ bar, which is the only reason he can think of for why Ducktown was mostly unscathed.
“Being in the eye of the storm was what protected” them, he said. “My prayers and my support for everybody else.”
Ducktown is well known in Atlantic City, county officials said -- a regular fundraiser for community events as well as a hangout for locals.
“It’s warming to have someone sincerely say, ‘Thank you’ for being open,” Exadaktilos said. “I’m not serving lobster tails and caviar. It’s just wings, onion rings and chips at the corner bar.”
Exadaktilos then had to excuse himself. He was outside Sam’s Club, picking up more supplies to restock Ducktown.