Manufacturer: Syracuse China
User: Hackney's Restaurant – Atlantic City, New Jersey and Miami, Florida
Date of cup: August 1964
Notes: From the Real Brigatine Facebook page posted most recently on Sept. 5, 2022, Harry Watson Hackney (1871-1945) started Hackney's Restaurant at Maine Street and Boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J., as a clam shack in 1912, but it grew so big and so fast that by 1929, the restaurant had 3,200 seats, and took up a full block of the Atlantic City Boardwalk along Absecon Inlet. It was the biggest seafood restaurant in the world in its day – and by some telling, the biggest restaurant of any kind. Despite that huge capacity, it also had lines around the block on summer nights.
In the 1920's, Harry Hackney opened a large branch at 500 Ocean Boulevard in Miami Beach, Fla., which eventually moved to Alston Road, and finally to Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami. When this restaurant closed is not known.
Harry Hackney believed in advertising, and anything he could put a lobster on, he did, including the plates, cocktail glasses, swizzle sticks, sugar packs, pocket protectors, ashtrays, delivery trucks, a sailing yacht (that gave rides to paying customers), and much more. Many places have advertised on matchbooks, and Hackney's did, too, but Hackney's also had its messages put on individual matches within the packs.
The Atlantic City restaurant sustained massive damage from especially fierce storms in 1944 and 1962, but a 1963 fire did even worse damage to the landmark. The restaurant shut down until 1965, when it reopened as a smaller, more modern building with only about 1,500 seats. But by then, Atlantic City was struggling itself – and the Inlet worst of all as it tried desperately to recover from the 1962 nor'easter.
The family sold Hackney's in the mid-1970s, and the new owners kept it running into the early 1980s. But they closed it, and sold it again in 1993. The following year, the new owners announced plans for a $2 million renovation that would again cut the size of Hackney's in half – down from the 15,000 square feet of the rebuilt, post-1965 incarnation.
But while the restaurant sat empty beside the Boardwalk for years – with tables neatly lined up and covered, looking like it could open again with the simple turn of a key – it never served another meal.
News reports show the rusting steel frame was still there at least into the late 1990s, but when it was torn down, the restaurant that was once "as famous as the Boardwalk" drew little notice – even among the family that ran it so lovingly for so long.
Now there's no sign left that Hackney's was ever there – and the section of Boardwalk it dominated is closed to walkers by decades of storm damage and neglect.
Hackney's Restaurant Facebook Group
Photos: Tom Willis
ID: Johanna DeAngelo
Author: Ed Phillips