Rick's American Cafe may look like a 'down and dirty' shore bar, "because it is," says Al Geary, its official promoter and former general manager. "That's a big part of its charm."
The Barnegat Light bar and grill, named after Humphrey Bogart's business, "Rick's Cafe Americain" in Casablanca, was opened in 1981 by owner Jo Ann Salvucci, one of Geary's longtime friends.
Geary's been working at Rick's since he was a teenager, starting as a bartender and working his way up the rungs. So when it comes to talking about the business, he knows best. (Plus, it's now his job.)
"What I love most is the diversity of the crowd," Geary says. "At any minute there could be lifeguard, a fisherman, a mechanic and a New York City model sitting side-by-side at the bar," which has 96 stools and sits in view of the stage and the dance floor.
Rick's brings in many friendly, familiar faces - locals, vacationers, young and old, "anyone who is looking for a good time."
"In 1988 Philadelphia Magazine voted us #1 bar of the Jersey Shore and wrote, 'Rick's is that rare shore bar with enough character to let people adopt it and make it their own'," says Geary, reciting the quote accurately from memory. "All these years later I cant help but still think, 'Man, they really hit the nail on the head with that one'."
Back in the day, Rick's was known to bring in a lot of big name musicians including Joan Jett, Vanilla Ice, the Wailers, The Outlaws, The Dead Milkmen and more.
Today, it continues to bring in a great musical lineup with bands filling its stage every Friday and Saturday in the summer staring at about 9 p.m.
"We bring in a mix of styles," Geary said.
Performing this Saturday, Aug. 3 is Moses Livingston. The following, Friday, Aug. 9 is Danksters; Saturday, Aug. 10, Chevy Loez; Friday, Aug. 17 No Discipline and Saturday, Aug. 18 Flamin Harry's.
Other house favorites to perform at Rick's include Shorty Long and the Jersey Horns, Eleven Eleven and John McNutt.
Food and Drinks:
Rick's is known for its extensive imported beer menu, "which was popular in the 80s when we opened and still is," Geary says, as well as its 50-cent Comicazi shots.
"It's actually kind of hilarious, but it's a tradition and people love it," Geary says of the Comicazis. "They come in with a group, order a round and cheers to a good night."
Happy hour is 4-8 p.m. daily with select drink and food specials including a $5 select appetizer menu, $5 frozen drinks and $2.50 16-ounce Pasbt Blue Ribbon "Pounders" and Thursday's special includes half price beers all day.