The iconic Manco and Manco Pizza celebrates 60 years on the OC Boardwalk
The moment you step onto the Boardwalk at 8th Street, the aroma hits you. You walk south, hear the seagulls squawking as they swarm overhead. Then you see the huge crowd overflowing out of the restaurant waiting for their beloved Manco and Manco pizza, so you continue walking. Heading toward 9th Street, the same thing occurs and by the time you get to 12th Street, you know you cannot resist any longer – you need your Manco and Manco pizza!
Co-owner Chuck Bangle, with a grin on his face and oil on his hands, chuckles as he says “it’s just pizza and soda.” But to Ocean City, it is much more. Manco and Manco has been a staple to the Boardwalk for the last 60 years.
First things first, the big question on my mind, do you actually eat the pizza?
Yea, I probably have about a slice a week. My first summer down here I gained 38 pounds. I was dating Mr. Manco’s daughter and she told me I could eat as much as I wanted… so ya know, I did. Now that was 22 years ago, I’ve cut it down since then.
Over the last 22 years of working here, what has been your most memorable moment as the owner?
Boy, most memorable as owner? June 24, 2011. The day we went out on our own as Manco and Manco Pizza. It was the start of a new tradition, a strong family-owned and family-oriented tradition. The second most important thing was 11 years ago when we built Manco and Manco Pizza Two. That features our expanded menu, the things we’d like to sell on the Boardwalk, but we can’t. That was a prototype store that hopefully will lead to more stores. We proved to ourselves that we can be off-shore and still maintain our customer base. Most importantly that the pizza is still as good over there as it is here (on the Boardwalk.) The joke is that people say the pizza is better here than it is over there, so I tell everyone that if I were to put seagulls over there and have the sound of the ocean coming through the sound speaker it’d be the exact same.
What did you underestimate about being the owner of one of the most iconic restaurants in America’s Number One Beach?
The hours. I’d say in the summertime I’m working about 80 hours a week; typically starting at 7am and working until 1am. It is a 24-hour-a-day job. In addition to working a shift, I also do all the behind the scenes stuff. The ovens, over 140 employees – hiring, firing, payroll, dealing with vendors, insurance companies… you name it, we have to do it. But I love it, I have a passion for it. The great thing about a seasonal business is you can see when it starts, see when it ends and have a couple of months to rest.
What words or phrases would your employees say you over use?
“Tough guy.” “Horrendous.” The running joke is when an employee is doing a great job you go up to them and say something like, ‘hey Briana, you’re doing an absolutely horrendous job.’ The guys look for that, they look for when the new guys are going to get their first “horrendous” of the year. It’s a good thing, when I’m quiet that’s when they need to be concerned.
Favorite dessert place on the island?
Hobby Horse Ice Cream Parlor, 8th and Ocean. The best ice cream and peanut butter balls in town. That is my happy place.
How would you describe Ocean City’s Boardwalk to someone that’s never been?
Fasten your seat belt, come up and have a good time because you are in for the thrill of your life. There is something for everybody up here, whether it’s the amusement parks, the food, just taking in all the smells and noises of the rides – just feeding off the energy of the crowd. Especially now since we were named Number Beach in America, the energy is awesome. We are a unique town, and we’re proud of it.
What is your favorite character trait that you possess?
Leadership; lead by example. There isn’t a thing in this place that myself, my wife and Mrs. Manco wouldn’t do. Whether it’s sweeping the floor, mopping up, we all do it. Leadership is important, we have to be role models. Our corporate mission statement hangs in every store, those are traits we live by.
Last, but most important – what has kept Manco and Manco running so strong for 60 years?
Like we tell all of our employees and customers, Mr. and Mrs. Manco created this product in 1956. We are here to continue the legacy they created. We stick to tradition, top shelf ingredients and a great crew. The average tenure of our full-time employees is 22 years. We have one family with four generations of their family working here, the father was one of the original employees from 1956. Mrs. Manco, who has been here since 1956, still works five days a week. We work hard, if the ovens don’t turn there’s no pizza coming out. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to Ocean City and our loyal customer base – that’s the most important thing. Without the customers, we’d be nothing. – Briana Duffy