Friday, January 20, 2023

Longtime owners of Kelly's Cafe confirm sale, believe landmark will remain a bar/restaurant

One of Wildwood's oldest and most storied establishments is changing hands.

Amid rumors and speculation of a possible sale, the longtime owners of Kelly's Cafe (4400 Atlantic Avenue) have issued a statement on Facebook confirming the deal.

"It's true," began the message from Victor & Patrice Namiotka. "After word got out all over social media, we figured it was time to put out a statement. After 32 years of owning, managing, working and basically spending more than half our lives at Kelly's Cafe, we have decided it was time to sell. We have accepted an offer from a very knowledgeable family that has been in the business themselves for years."

"We really enjoyed and will miss all the wonderful people we have met over the years. We hope Kelly's Cafe made many memorable moments for everyone to remember. Thank you."

The Namiotkas did not name the prospective buyers, but wished them success while noting: 

"As far as we know, Kelly's Cafe will still remain a historical landmark, restaurant and bar."

As to whether or not the Kelly's name and theme will be retained or if any significant changes are in the works, we will have to wait and see. Settlement is expected in the coming weeks, after which we hope to have an update on the future of this iconic property from the new owners.

Kelly's Cafe is the oldest existing bar in Wildwood, a fact proudly touted on its marquee following the closure of the Shamrock Cafe.

There is some conflicting info out there, but through our research at the Wildwood Historical Society, we believe that Kelly's opened in 1938 (the year after the Shamrock). 

That would have made 2022 its 85th year in business!

(Above photo courtesy of the Wildwood Historical Society. Exact date unknown, but this was likely taken in the early 1960's, as a 1959 Cadillac can be seen at right.)

Kelly's as it appears today is almost unrecognizable compared to the rustic saloon that first appeared on the southwest corner of Atlantic & Montgomery. The oldest portions of the building were part of a real estate office and ice cream parlor that was originally located on the Boardwalk.

Proprietor and namesake Pat Kelly moved the structure to its current location and expanded steadily through the years before retiring in the early 1960's.

Could he have imagined that his humble cafe would go on to serve generations of locals and vacationers, for at least another six decades? There's an old saying in Wildwood that "Everybody has a Kelly's story!" and, from our experience, it seems to ring true.

We'll be keeping a close eye on this landmark as its next chapter unfolds...

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