The Party’s Over: Jack’s Place Joins List of Things That Aren’t Here Anymore
By Dave Coskey
The last night of operation … ever … Sept. 8, 2017 … Last call.
They “broke the seal” for the last time at Jack’s Place on Friday, May 20, 2017. The next “break” came at 10am on Friday, May 22, 2019 when Men & Machines Demolition unceremoniously took down part of the cinderblock wall that would make up Jack’s storage room behind the nightclub.
Jack Erkert, the namesake for Jack’s Place watched from his home in Florida with many a good memory and probably a tear or two. And with that swing of a bulldozer, so ended a tradition of nightlife, hospitality and dining at the corner of 36th Street and Ocean Drive in Avalon.
Jack’s in the ’80s.
For more than 90 years, visitors to the Seven Mile Beach visited that corner to patronize The Black Eagle, Gallagher’s Pub, Meany’s Restaurant, and Jack’s Place. Baskets of fried shrimp, Sunday jam sessions, The Fabulous Greaseband, Mr. Greengenes, the 76ers Beach Bash, DJ Bulge, Flyers and Eagles charity softball games and “When it rains, we pour,” are all memories associated with the locale over the past half century.
It’s believed that the original name, The Black Eagle, possibly was derived from the symbol of the Bergner & Engel Brewing Company, which naturally was a black eagle. Gustav Bergner, one of the owners of the Philadelphia-based brewery that was among the 10 largest in the country at the turn of the 20th century, was also the mayor of Avalon. The Black Eagle was also the site of the legendary “election day” suppers hosted by Mayor Edith Greenan in the 1940s and ’50s.
Behind the bar at The Black Eagle, circa 1958.
But the location really hit its stride in 1973 when Jack Erkert, who was involved in the management of the place when it was Gallagher’s Pub, purchased the nightspot from Marie Gallagher. Jack created what’s known today as a sports bar before there were sports bars. Jack’s, along with The Princeton and the Bongo Room, became part of Avalon’s vibrant nightlife scene in the 1970s. In the new millennium, The Greaseband relocated its Sunday night shows to Jack’s and were joined by the likes of Mr. Greengenes and even national recording star G. Love.
Gallagher’s Pub, circa 1971.
But Jack’s, like all things, has come to pass. It took the better part of two days to remove all traces of a building that had seen a host of transformations and additions in almost 100 years. The land is zoned for single-family homes, so we should expect to see construction begin soon. When the Seven Mile Times posted photos from Jack’s demolition, our Facebook post was seen by 158,000 people! The post was shared 700 times and there were more than 1,600 comments. Pretty amazing!
And now, Jack’s Place joins the Bongo Room, Donnelly’s and The Paper Peddler as some of the places that live only in our memories. Regardless of whether you were a Jack’s customer of late or not, we’re all going to miss the roof top sign with the Memorial Day Weekend countdown.
A look at the corner of 36th and Ocean in June 1975.
Always parked at every off-site event and always in the parking lot, the Jack’s Place van, circa 1977.
Jack’s menu summer of 1977.
The Flyers’ Steve Coates (left) and the man himself, Jack … probably before a softball game.
Jack’s last stand on May 22, 2019.
Jack’s last stand on May 20, 2019.
A look inside Jack’s Place with Jack’s jersey and baseball bat collection on display in the background.
The 7th annual 76ers Beach Bash in 2004 drew large crowds of basketball fans to the Shore in July.
One of Jack’s softball teams from the early 1980s.
Jack’s softball team vs. the Flyers to benefit the Helen L. Diller Vacation Home for Blind Children, summer 1981.
Jack’s flier, circa 1975.
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