Jake Bajek, partners with owner Mark Pazzanita, said the business has been a legendary bar and deli in the heart of Ambridge since 1950, when it was first called the Bridge Cafe.
The partners want the revitalization of the Tick Tock to exemplify revitalization in Ambridge. The Tick Tock, like most businesses in Ambridge, was at one time a booming place. As the town went into decline, Bajek said so did the businesses.
"We want to be a part of turning that around. That’s why we felt it was important for us to team up with Ambridge Connection, because of all the good you have already done for the community," he said.
Former owner Manny Sephakis operated the business for 32 years before selling to Pazzanita.
“There was a time when I was here that my mother, my sister in law and my brother couldn’t keep up. We made like 40 to 50 hoagies a day and sandwiches."
His mother passed away and his brother moved with his wife to Florida, leaving Manny Sephakis to manage the business alone. He cut the sandwiches out, then the lottery, pop and potato chips. He later got sick and said “the writing was on the wall.”
“It was time to go. I got sick, I couldn’t do it anymore,” said Sephakis said, who had owned the business since 1982 after previous owner, John Kornicki. Though Sephakis sold the business, in true family fashion, he stuck around to help out as well.
So far, the new owners have transformed the bar with a five-day “bar rescue” highlighted by new furniture and televisions, free Wi-Fi, a refinished bar top, a brand new 10-tap draft system and multiflow system, a takeout and bottle cooler with what Bajek calls "the largest beer selection in town," as well as throw-back pictures and décor that emphasizes the history.
"The bar feels like old Ambridge, like home," patron Lisa Cvitkovic said. "I feel welcome. The place is open, has quick service and everyone knows your name."
Plans are in the works to build a new Italian style deli with soups and sandwiches to go along with the lottery and convenience store.
They are working with the Community Development Program of Beaver County to upgrade the building façade.
The building will also be opened up inside with new bathrooms and a common seating area so the new deli can be connected with the bar.
"Our main goals continue to be cleaning up and creating excitement around the Tick Tock and having fun doing it," Bajek said. "This place was, is, and will continue to be something special."
Here is what it means to Pazzanita's three daughters:
“The Tick Tock has been the family hot spot for 3, probably 4 generations now. My sisters and I literally grew up sitting on top of the counter in the deli, drinking chocolate milk and picking out the daily numbers grandpa was going to play. When my dad first told me that we we’re going to buy & revive Tick Tock I felt like this is so much more than a project, it's taking an old friend, on his way out, and bringing him back to life! The fact that my family and I can be a part of the restoration of Ambridge is one of the most gratifying experiences of my life... and this is just the beginning!”
“Personally, when I think of Tick Tock, my first thought is knowing that every time I walked in the deli, grandpa and Manny would definitely be there, and I was definitely getting a free snack and pop. There was always a face that I knew, and if I didn't know them, they always knew me as "Cooch’s kid" or "one of those Guido girls." It's been a bar we have been a part of for as long as I can remember. It's a privilege to contribute to the community, as a family, what Ambridge and Tick Tock have rooted in us: work hard, don't judge, respect your elders, love your neighbor, laugh ALOT, and drink up. Those are the lessons I think of when I reflect on growing up in Tick Tock.”
“My father told me when he attended West Liberty that his professor said in class one day, "there are two communities not far from here that are considered the highest quality of life, Weirton, West Virginia, and Ambridge, Pennsylvania." When my father told me this, I envisioned Merchant Street, and the 100 year old abandoned buildings that surrounded it. The old store signs that are barely hanging up by rusty decaying nails. I thought about the unused train tracks that bordered the deserted mills. To be given an opportunity to bring back just a little bit of that high quality of life would be beyond gratifying. By working together to build a place where people can come to enjoy fresh subs, cold beer, and good times, would maybe inspire others in the community to rebuild this town together. Let's keep Ambridge’s legend alive.”
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