Hackney's, Atlantic City 1930s
For decades, whenever anyone thought of Atlantic City and its famous boardwalk, they also thought of the restaurant Hackney’s. This historic restaurant in New Jersey began life in 1912 as a humble clam shack. By the late 1920s, had grown to become a mammoth restaurant, capable of serving 3,200 patrons. An estimated 153 chefs were on round-the-clock duty in the kitchens which went through thousands of pounds of lobster tails every day. There was a small army of waiting staff.
It was founded by Harry Hackney, a businessman who was not just a great restaurateur but a genius at marketing.
He put the Hackney’s logo – a deep red lobster – on plates, glasses, ink blotters (this is one) swizzle sticks, matchbooks and ashtrays.
He encouraged customers to take away the menus – they traveled far across America and the world and helped spread the word about the lobster-centric menu so that anyone who visited the shore, headed for Hackney's when they were hungry.
Harry also lured customers with clever catchphrases – Eat Where They Are Caught, Home of the Purified Lobster, Famous Garden of Seafood. All of this was ground-breaking advertising at the time.
The restaurant, which occupied an entire block of the Atlantic City Boardwalk, suffered damage in two legendary storms in 1944 and 1962 and was badly damaged by fire in 1963.
It reopened in 1965 as a smaller restaurant seating “only” 1500 patrons but Atlantic City – and dining tastes -changed and the restaurant was past its glory days. The Hackney family, who had so lovingly guided it for decades,. sold out in the 1970s.
The restaurant was sold on a further two occasions and a promised renovation in the 1990s failed to materialize. The building was left to the elements and bits of it were torn down. Now, there is no sign on the Boardwalk that it ever existed.
Adam Grohman, a great-great-grandson of Harry Hackney, has written a book about the history of this famous New Jersey dining experience: "Hackney's: The History of the World Famous Seafood Restaurant"
Courtesy Private Collection.
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