It could have been like any other night at the family owned DEKS American Restaurant & Taproom Feb. 28, but of course, it wasn’t. Once the clock struck midnight March 1, the staple pub in Rocky Point that has stood for 41 years closed its doors for good.
“It’s the people, of course, it’s the people,” said Dean Scott, the pub’s owner. “It’s been nothing but accolades from people that say, ‘Look, thank you.’”
The pub and restaurant owner is moving down to Florida to enjoy a retirement that has been a long time coming. He said it was time to take a break from the hustle of running a bar as old as his.
“It’s time,” he said. “We haven’t had any life. It’s 24/7. It’s like, ‘What are we out of? What fell down? What’s broken?’”
Regular Margaret Labate has been coming to the pub for decades. In one of the closets toward the front entrance, the pub workers hold onto many photographs from over the years. On one of them from around 1998, Labate and her husband Vinny stand by the bar, smiling as they did the night of Feb. 28.
“This is when you had color in your hair, hon,” Margaret Labate said to her husband as she held the picture. “We’ll miss the homeliness and the comfort of this place.”
Labate had come for years, back when she and her husband had started dating. She would even eventually go by herself, saying she felt safe there.
There was a good amount of camaraderie to go around the closing night. Scott and his family, including his brother Kevin and daughter Danya, know just about everyone who walks through the doors and were able to make a quick quip about nearly every one of them as they came in from the cold night outside.
It was a night of bittersweet well wishes, but just a few days before, Feb. 24, the bar hosted its going-away party with live music. That night the space was packed shoulder to shoulder, and the parking lot across the street was lined by cars. By Feb. 28, most of the neon signs had been taken down while the Scott family sold off hundreds of beer taps, some from brands long forgotten.
Despite his love for the patrons, Scott said he has to get off his feet. He only recently underwent below-the-knee surgery due to complications from diabetes.
Natalie Stiefel, president of Rocky Point Historical Society, said the building dates back to James Hallock, whose family was a well-known influence on the area in the early 19th century, and was built in 1825. Area local Charles Bloder purchased the house in 1929 and turned it into a night spot called The Rocky Point Inn.
Before Scott purchased it, the bar was originally named the Sip and Bull Tavern, he said, but it was later changed to its modern incarnation. The current pub owner can still remember a time before the bypass along Route 25A, just when the area was turning from a summer destination into a place where residents could take up roots.
Overall Scott said he is happy to see so much support for what he and his family have done.
“We were the place that always stayed open no matter what, somewhere you could get warm and get a hot meal,” Scott said. “It’s really wonderful, it’s a nice thing to know that people actually appreciate what you’ve done for the past 41 years. It’s been a long time — a lifetime.”