COLUMN: Memories of Voltaco’s

By TOM WILLIAMS

Things have changed a bit for Ocean City residents and visitors recently.

Ward’s Pastry closed its doors last month. Express Pizza & Subs is for sale. Ocean City Surf Cafe and Starfish Cafe have both closed. And, while DiOrio’s Bar & Grill in Somers Point has no plans to close, Denny DiOrio – who has been active in the family business for 55 years, the last 38 as manager – is retiring this month. Ocean City residents have long since forgiven Denny for kicking the game-winning point for Mainland against the Raiders in the 1967 football game. His nephew, Mike Galante, will take over management.

Another sad closing will take place at the end of this weekend.

Since 1954, when sisters Rose Volpe and Theresa Taccarino opened Voltaco’s, it has been the go-to spot during summers and weekends in the spring and fall for visitors and residents seeking great subs and Italian food. Current owners Joe and Vicki Taccarino, and their son, Jeff, announced Voltaco’s will close Sunday following the Ocean City Fall Block Party.

The Taccarinos have indicated they may publish a cook book with all of the recipes that have brought people back to their West Avenue location again and again.

Some people you may know share their memories of Voltaco’s.

Jay Gillian, Ocean City mayor: “When I think about Voltaco’s I have great memories. When I was young and my Mom’s family from Delaware would visit, it was always a trip to Voltaco’s for subs. The smell of those subs today always takes me back to those great times.”

Rich Tolson, retired union executive: “My memory isn’t just one, but every time I walked into Voltaco’s. Seeing Mr. Taccarino as a sentry like figure and Mrs. Taccarino always smiling with a warm greeting and always remembering your name. To Joe and Vicki being the same type of gracious hosts. Joe went through school with my brother, Mike, so I have known him forever. And Jeff, who has carried on the tradition in the same welcoming manner as his grandparents. The food was always fabulous, but the family was what was warmest. I will miss their greetings. Thank you, Taccarino family.”

John Cranston, OCHS Hall of Fame athlete: “Voltaco’s was my favorite place in Ocean City for a lot of reasons.  When I lived in the town in the 1960s it was a big treat for my family to get some takeout from there.  The food was always great.  My Mom used to say ‘why should I cook Italian food when we have Voltaco’s available.’  Every year we would get our freezer order that we hoped would get us through the time they were closed. More recently, since I moved to the Philadelphia area, Voltaco’s would be a required stop when I visited Ocean City.  It was for the food, of course, but also to touch base with Ocean City the way I remembered it from my youth.  Joe Taccarino was always glad to see an old Ocean City guy and was usually full of good gossip.  And frequently I would run into some of my old friends from the city and have some fun catching up. The store and the Taccarino family will be sorely missed as they can never be replaced or duplicated.  As Ocean City changed over the years it meant a lot to me that I could always recapture the good memories and feelings simply by stopping in for a hoagie.  Although I am saddened by their closing, I wish the Taccarino family the best of everything.”

Glenn Wiesenthal, retired auto shop owner: “Have such great family memories eating around the table and having food from Voltaco’s. It was always special.”

Bill Maurer, investment manager: “I go way back with the Taccarino /Volpe families. John Taccarino and I graduated from Ocean City in 1966. John went on to be an Ocean City policeman and move out of the area (I remember he married Joy Hubmaster and I think they had triplets.) Joe was two or three years behind us and pretty much took over the business. Later his son, Jeff, started when he was only 12 and has worked there for over 30 years. Theresa Volpe was also in my class of ‘66. John and Theresa‘s moms started Voltacos – hence the name, derived from Volpe and Taccarino. Theresa moved on to California, which pretty much left Joe to carry on the family business. It is such a sad situation in Ocean City with the businesses having costs rising so high that it’s hard to make a profit and it’s very difficult to get help. The days of our old Ocean City, with many businesses having a hard time staying in business today is so sad. Voltaco’s is an iconic Ocean City family business.”

Jean Serber, retired educator: “I have good stories about the older Taccarinos and my parents ordering food for all four of us kids and our friends. It was always a special treat and has continued to be through the years.”

Walt Tucker, prominent NASCAR analyst: “Great place, great food. Love their cheesesteaks. Awesome family. Will miss them and this iconic food establishment. Ocean City will not be the same without the Voltaco’s family and employees. Good luck.”

Dr. Jason Chew: “A few things come to mind when I think of Voltaco’s and the Taccarino family. Joe Tac is classic and the family is as good as it gets. We have known their family for many years. You always know summer is here when they take their phone off the hook. My brother worked there for years when he was younger and I still remember the smell of cheesesteaks on his clothes. Voltaco’s is the epitome of small town business. They will be missed, but never forgotten.”

Keith Hartzell, retired city councilman: “During the Soprano’s big run, I would watch the show with friends, smoking a cigar, drinking a scotch, bourbon or whiskey, with  food from Voltaco’s.  I think we produced the perfect viewing atmosphere.  When Mrs. Taccarino passed away in 2007, our Council wrote a letter to honor her. It still hangs near the front door. The Taccarinos are a class act.”

Phil Birnbaum, retired Ocean City tennis director: “Lots of ‘sub’ memories about Voltaco’s. Mainly those long summer 12-hour days working on the OC tennis courts. My only meal would be an afternoon break with a Voltaco’s treat. Delicious!”

Antwan McClellan, New Jersey Assemblyman: “My best memories of Voltaco’s is seeing my sisters working there, calling in to place an order and Mr. Taccarino recognizing my voice. Or seeing me across the crowded room and calling me up to take my cheesesteak order or grab my cheesesteak off the oven. They are a great family that cared about the community. Thank you for so many great years, great memories and the great food.”

Melissa Gleason, Chief Financial Officer for University of Kentucky athletics (and daughter of a Voltaco’s fanatic): “Voltaco’s has always been a go-to for the Gleason family from when we lived in town (before I was even born) through this past summer. My dad (Butch Gleason) always appreciated catching up with Joe when he would come in the store after we moved out of town. And we always seemed to have lots of their food in the freezer.”

Bobby Barr, City Council President: “My best Voltaco’s memory is simple – eating cheesesteaks that Mike Baldyga got for us in the old OCHS cafeteria with Big Mike, Jack Boyd, John Bruno and Tony Galante. We had so many laughs during those days. Some of the greatest memories – and subs – of my life.”

Joe Myers, OCHS Hall of Fame athlete now living in Idaho: “I was flying back to San Diego after visiting family and friends in Ocean City, guessing around 1986. I packed both an Italian and cheesesteak sub in a cooler. Voltaco’s would separate the meat and bread from the veggies with wax paper. I couldn’t help myself so I pulled the cheesesteak out to eat mid flight. Needless to say it didn’t take long before the whole plane smelled like steak and grilled onions. It was hilarious and embarrassing simultaneously. My brother-in-law, Terry Miller, coached track at Southern Regional for a time. Whenever the team bus was traveling the Garden State Parkway in close proximity to OC he would direct the driver to Voltaco’s and would treat the team. No better sub sandwich in the world.”

As you can see from this sampling, that little takeout place started in 1954 has made a difference in people’s lives and will be greatly missed.

You have until Sunday to place your final Voltaco’s order.

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