Bill’s Gyros, a Boardwalk fixture in Atlantic City, has been closed a lot this winter. There was a sign on the door that said go to My Friend Diner, another block north along the boardwalk. Sometimes, even My Friend Diner was closed.
The blue-fronted gyro spot claimed it “never closed”. But people were asking about it, worried about Bill.
Bill was cooking behind the counter at the My Friend Diner last week. He said business at that end of the Boardwalk has been dead this winter. The diner and the gyro joint (which sells liquor too) are on the two Boardwalk blocks between Martin Luther King Blvd and New York Ave. Just before Resorts. Foot traffic at that end has suffered since the Taj Mahal casino closed last October after a long labor dispute.
“Not even half of what it has been,” said Bill. His glasses dangle below his chin, hooked only around his left ear.
He’s 81, retired. His wife is retired too. She owns My Friend Diner, so he’s working for her, he says. I know what that’s like, since I work with my husband, I tell him.
“I work for her 43 years.” And then repeats himself, as if he can’t quite believe it even though he has counted each of those years.
He’s working behind the counter at My Friend Diner, which connects to the Atlantic Palace Suites hotel, because there is not enough business to justify adding staff.
“No business here,” he says. “So I cannot afford to have people in here.”
I ask him about Bill’s Gyros.
“June it will take off again, we’ll get more people on the boardwalk.” He tried opening only on the weekends over the winter. Then every other weekend. But there was not enough traffic to make it worthwhile. In June, that will change and he will reopen again, he says.
As I leave, he shouts after me, “Say hello to your husband. Next time don’t lie. You don’t work for him, he works for you. We all know that! Don’t lie next time!”