Drifting towards a better business

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First Posted: 6/3/2013

The famed Bronx Bomber Mickey Mantle once walked through the doors, which have been open since 1911.

The establishment is Italian-run, having made it through a time period when the area had 80-some bars, with all but three being run by Irishmen.

And now, after all these years, Drifters Tavern in Hughestown is turning another leaf, reinventing itself to keep its presence in this day and age strong.

Deno Chiavacci, whose last name is the moniker that has been attached to the eatery since 1911, is excited to get the place back on track.

Though the lease has never switched hands out of the family, something the Chiavaccis pride themselves on, the image of the place isn’t exactly where Chiavacci would like it.

“Everyone knows Drifters as a smoking bar; there was a pool table in the back,” he said, “so we want to get away from that name to show people how it’s different. It’s no longer smoking, and there are tables in the back for dining.”

The establishment was previously called Chiavacci’s and Deno’s Cafe. Chiavacci’s father, who also went by Deno, ran the Hughestown Sports Club from the building from 1969 through 1995. The club ran bus trips to Philadelphia sports and Penn State games.

Chiavacci’s father also held banquets to honor local athletes, drawing hundreds of people. Chiavacci believes that at one time, the sports club had a membership with over 600 people.

Chiavacci and his brother Tony bought the establishment from their father in 1995, the same year they added a kitchen to it.

“I ran the bar for a bit, then went to bigger restaurant companies,” Chiavacci said. “At the time, the bar scene just wasn’t happening. But I’m glad I did go. I learned a lot of the things I’m applying to the business today.”

Chiavacci would like to do a rebranding of Drifters, the name of which will soon change to T and D’s, after the brothers.

“Ultimately, we’d love to have a dinner crowd until about 9, 10 at night, then become a bar.”

There is already a menu of typical bar fare at the establishment, but Chiavacci is planning on adding steak and fish items to the menu to expand it, as well as holding barbecues. There is a clam night on Wednesdays, a $5 burger night on Thursdays, and wing nights on Sundays and Wednesdays.

There were major renovations done in 2003, and there are still things being built within the bar, such as an outside bar that should be up and running this weekend.

On June 22 at noon, there will be a summer kickoff party with a barbecue and music from both Nowhere Slow and DJ OhWee.