Atlantic City Tavern Offers Shelter In The Storm

New Jersey's Gov. Chris Christie on Friday announced mandatory evacuations for his state's coastal residents as Hurricane Irene approached. He said this weekend was not the time to get dinner in Atlantic City, but the Ducktown Tavern in Atlantic City is intent on staying open.

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JOHN YDSTIE, Host:

As Hurricane Irene continues to lumber up the east coast, the state of New Jersey is sparing no precaution. Much of the Jersey shore has been evacuated. Atlantic City casinos have closed their doors for only the third time since gambling was legalized. And on Friday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had this to say to beach-bound travelers.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: There will be no eastbound flow into Atlantic City after 6 o'clock this evening. So, for some reason you were thinking about going to dinner in Atlantic City tonight, forget it. Go someplace else.

YDSTIE: Or maybe not.

JOHN EXADAKTILOS: Yeah, we're not closing.

YDSTIE: Meet John Exadaktilos, owner of the Ducktown Tavern in Atlantic City.

EXADAKTILOS: Spananni, what's up? (unintelligible)

YDSTIE: We reached him yesterday afternoon, his 24-hour bar and grill stayed open. He couldn't see outside - the Ducktown has no windows - but from what he saw on TV, he wasn't worried.

EXADAKTILOS: Choppy seas, little wind, little hazy. This is a bull (beep) storm. Nothing's going to happen. If we do, it's going to be a little bit of flooding. We've dealt with it before. And, you know, people got to eat. And that's what I'm here for - feed 'em.

YDSTIE: And feed them he has.

EXADAKTILOS: I've been busy. We just catered a party for the city of Ventnor about 20 minutes ago. I'm on my 36th hour of work and I've been running around like a lunatic.

YDSTIE: Exadaktilos says he believes that Ducktown is the only place in the city staying open during the hurricane - a refuge for cops, firemen and plain old locals.

EXADAKTILOS: I've had people sit here all day and have coffee. I've had people all day get bombed. Not one person's concerned who's stepped foot through this door because they are here. No one's left.

YDSTIE: John Exadaktilos, owner of the Ducktown Tavern in Atlantic City, New Jersey. We checked in this morning - and he hasn't left.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

YDSTIE: You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News.

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