A young Frank Manco worked three jobs. He managed an E.J. Korvette department store in his hometown, Trenton. He was a bookkeeper for a state prison. And the third job, each summer, was at Mack & Manco, the pizza place his father, Vincent, helped start in 1956, at the heart of Ocean City’s Boardwalk.
It’s called Manco & Manco now, and it’s a local institution, with three Boardwalk locations and one in Somers Point. Frank and his wife, Kay, were key players in making their pizza a Boardwalk empire. And they got to enjoy the results of all their hard work before Frank died last month, at 81. They traveled, danced, enjoyed culture, enjoyed life.
But no matter how long it seems the Manco name has meant magic and money around Ocean City, it wasn’t always that way.
“Things were tough for them really until the mid-’70s,” said Chuck Bangle, of Somers Point, who is married to the Mancos’ only child, Mary. “They were actually going to pull out of Ocean City. But what saved them was when Resorts opened in Atlantic City.”
The business was strictly seasonal at first.
“After Labor Day in the old days, you just shut down,” said Bangle, a 20-year pizza veteran. “Up until the early ’80s, Frank was still working at Korvette’s, commuting to Trenton.”
But by the mid-’80s, the Mancos were expanding in size, and in time. Their original Boardwalk shop, at Ninth Street, sells pizza all year now, as does Somers Point, which opened in 2005.
Tony Polcini, of Ocean City, was one of the first all-year workers. When he started 27 years ago, Frank made all the dough, every day — for crowds that, in summer, often stretch out the door.
Polcini is now general manager of a business that needs lots of summer workers. He sees the same ones come back year after year, and he knows why.
Frank and Kay “paid well, and they took care of their people,” he said. “They took pride in who they brought in ... and they treat their help like family.”
Frank’s health forced him to cut back on work lately, but he and Kay loved to travel. A favorite spot was the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, in Orlando, Fla. John Stauffer, who owns Johnson’s Popcorn, another Ocean City icon, has joined them there. He knows their own workers aren’t the only ones the Mancos treated well.
“Frank and Kay were very social with several staff members,” Stauffer said — including taking them out to dinner.
Steven Ballot, of Orlando, is a Grand Cypress bellman. He has not only gone out with the Mancos in Orlando, they have hosted him in their Ocean City home. So when Frank died, Ballot and his bellman colleague, Van Thompson, flew to Ocean City for the funeral.
“I think that speaks volumes about Frank,” Stauffer said.
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