The Old Acme Bar in Beach Haven, NJ

The Acme Bar in Beach Haven.

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The Acme was one of the hottest bars on LBI during the 1970’s.

The Ketch was once the Acme Hotel, Bar and Restaurant. During it’s heyday it was a favorite of celebrities such as Babe Ruth. It was also allegedly a speakeasy during prohibition. When the revenuers were on their way, the stash of not so legal booze could be dropped into the bay. 

In the 1970’s it had simply become a Bar. There was a regular crowd who frequented the place. When we had extra money we might try the Tide, Bayview or even the Seashell and Engleside.

There were bouncers at the door who loosely enforced the age requirements. Some people referred to some of the bars as “over the counter service”. In other words, if you could see over the counter, you got served.  The bar was noisy and smokey. Non smoking had not yet come into being.  There was a large bar in the older part of the building. During the 1970’s the building deteriorated to the point where if it was raining outside, it was raining inside. The bartender would sometimes be wearing a raincoat. There were rows of mugs hanging from the ceiling. If you were a regular, you could buy your personal mug which was somewhat of a status symbol.

There were some early arcade machines. One was Asteroids, that was a simple joystick game where you shot at incoming asteroids. The other was Pac-Man. Actually, I think both were imitations of the real Asteroids and Pac Man.

It wasn’t a notoriously rough bar and didn’t have the reputation of The Gateway. However, there were enough human-window collisions that they put 1 x 3’s on the inside of the windows.

The Acme would have special nights as if the ridiculously low cost of beer there wasn’t low enough. One night would be Tuborgs for 25 cents. Another would be ladies night where ladies got a beer for 10 cents or so. One of the lifeguards would dress up in drag and get 10 cent beers all night.  The bathrooms would not be up to code anywhere in the world today. Let’s put it this way, the sink and toilet were somewhat interchangeable.

After closing time, some of last people standing would walk to Zorba’s on Bay Avenue. Zorba’s was a Greek Restaurant that served food 24 hours a day. It had a reputation of being a bit of a greasy spoon. However, after a night of 25 cent beers, it didn’t matter all that much.

The Old Acme Bar in Beach Haven, NJ
The Old Acme Bar in Beach Haven, NJ
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8 thoughts on “The Acme Bar in Beach Haven.”

  1. Pingback: The Ketch in Beach Haven, formerly The Acme - LBI Views
  2. Pingback: The Rip Tide, formerly The Antlers - LBI Views
  3. Bird and Betty served me my first beer in New Jersey. (I grew up in North Jersey and would jump over to New York (both “Upstate” and NYC by bus).

    Herman from Polly’s Dock was there to witness my first beer a bit early by NJ standards of the day (before the brief flirtation with 18 year old drinking)

  4. The Acme Bar. Summer of 1973, 18years old could drink Legal. Rolling Rock pony bottles 25¢, Rum and coke 30¢, pool was 10¢ and the crazy drunks having the Best times talking of fishing, clamming, surfing, flying airplanes, helicopters. Was a Great time to be alive in Beach Haven!

    1. Another Acme Hotel saga
      This episode took place in the mid 70’s, back then, and even today, there were over a half dozen bars, all within a half mile radius in Beach Haven, NJ on Long Beach Island, and the perfect Café Racer scenario. The Acme Hotel was a water front, seaside dive bar, in a class all its own. In the early 1900’s, it was frequented by Babe Ruth and Doc Cranmer. During Prohibition, it had a hatch in the floor where boats would pull up underneath it, when it was literally on the water, and unload illegal rum and whiskey. By the 70’s, the floor was like a rollercoaster ride, so uneven from most of the floor joists below it being rotted out, that it felt like you were drunk just walking across it. The bathrooms had pallets on the floor, because the urine, vomit and beer were so profound, it was the only way you could keep from standing ankle deep in it.
      The first time I was ever in the Acme, was 1968, I was only 17 years old and very nervous about being so underage. Back then, there were steps just inside the door to the bar, that led up to what used to be the hotel rooms upstairs. As I nervously walked in, the first thing I saw was a small “two top” table, in the dark, under the steps, with three people sitting there, an older couple, at least in their mid 80’s, and a very attractive, very young blonde, clothed in crotch high cutoff jean shorts and a very Spartan white tank top, no underwear. What surprised me more than this odd crowd combination was the fact that they were casually passing a joint back and forth. It was then, that I decided that this was my kind of place.
      Years later, about 1975, after being a regular for several years, my friend Andy Chanin, got me a job as a Bouncer at the Acme. Andy, affectionately known as the Maniac, was a big, hulking, former Olympic weight lifter, and general rough house kind of guy.
      One night I had been at the Bay View Manor, another watering hole a few blocks away, but it was kind of quiet, so I jumped on my bike and rode over to the Acme. As I approached the bar, I noticed Andy standing outside in an aggressive posture, with 5 guys standing in a circle surrounding him. Realizing there was trouble, I jumped off my bike, letting it fall to the ground and ran in, back to back with Andy. I kept shouting, “Andy, what’s going on?”, but he was ignoring me completely, and just kept repeating to these guys, “I said get the fuck out of here!” As I more closely surveyed the situation, I started to notice that every one of these guys were bleeding profusely and pretty fuct up. Broken noses, teeth through their lips, Etc. Very shortly after this I could hear the sirens of police cars growing closer, so without any further adieu, we all separated, taking off in separate directions, to avoid any police confrontation.
      I later learned from the occupants of the bar who had witnessed the whole scene, that it started when there was a local “Biker Gang”, the Aces and Eights, in the bar, with an attractive young lady, who I later learned was my dear, late friend, Robin Kyle. It seems Andy had challenged the largest of these guys to an arm wrestling contest, with the prize being this young lady. The guy made the mistake of accepting the challange, whereupon Andy easily defeated him, but when the deal changed, that’s apparently when the shit hit the fan. I guess because there were 5 of these guys, they mistakenly thought they could intimidate Andy. Always a big mistake with this guy.
      Those who witnessed the debacle, told me it was right out of a movie scene, with Andy drilling each of them as they came at him, at one point, having a guy in a one armed headlock under his arm, driving his head through a window, breaking it, as he punched another.
      When I first encountered Andy outside, he was out of breath and slightly scuffed up, but the poor guys who made the mistake of challenging him, I’m sure learned a valuable lesson they will never forget.
      BTW, it was ME who dressed in Drag and drank on Ladies Night!
      Chris Capp

      1. Hi Chris. I remember you at the acme. I can’t remember which day of the week was Ladies night. I think my friend Joe was inside the night Andy went Bezerker.. The story sounds the same.

        I hope you are doing well. It has been a LOT of years since the old Acme days.

  5. I remember doing a modified “wheely” on my 650 cc Triumph motorcycle on the front porch of the ACME Hotel.

    Crowded, friendly, steamy on summer nights.

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