DeLuca Family’s Sports Bar Started As Deli, Sub Shop

OCEAN CITY – There is no gamble when it comes to High Stakes Bar and Grill, a family-friendly sports bar with excellent specials and entertainment for all to enjoy.

With 25-plus years’ experience in a small sandwich shop in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the DeLuca family opened Philly’s Finest in 2005 as a small corner deli and sub shop located on Route 54 not even a mile off of Coastal Highway in Fenwick Island, and today it has become High Stakes Bar and Grill, seating over 100 with a full menu.

In 2008, the space next door in the shopping center became available and the DeLucas jumped on the opportunity without even knowing what was to come of it in the future as the business took off with just additional restaurant seating and a small bar.

By 2009, the next space down the line became available and the “east side” was added. The addition is crafted as a “dueling bar” or a mirror image of the opposite side.

“Right now, we are doing extremely well,” co-owner Brian DeLuca said. “We are very busy, and we are very excited to where the future is going.”

As the restaurant took on a casino theme, the name High Stakes Bar and Grill was chosen to offer a broader horizon for all to enjoy and not to spark the interest of Philadelphia fanatics alone.

“We didn’t want to isolate it and have people think it is just Philadelphia food … a lot of people thinks it is only for Philly’s fans, but we welcome all fans,” DeLuca said. “We decided to go with something a little different and we enjoy it and all the customers seem to have taken a liking to it.”

Without a doubt, High Stakes’ most popular item on the menu is the cheesesteak.

“We leave it up to the customer as to how they want to build it,” DeLuca said. “There are so many variations of a Philly cheesesteak. Whatever you want on it, whatever makes it for you, it is going to come out delicious.”

However, the Philly-style cheesesteak, which comes with cheese whiz, fried onions and fried green peppers, was added to the menu to depict what customers look for in a traditional cheesesteak.

“It is the most efficient way to order, it’s the quickest, we know exactly what it is and we get it out to you,” DeLuca said. “It has always been enjoyed and liked by everybody that has it.”

High Stakes’ cheesesteaks ingredients have remained the same since the day they opened, all being delivered from Philadelphia and never leaving a customer disappointed.

“The cheese is a special kind from up north that a lot of the shops in south Philly use … which a whole lot of people seem to enjoy,” he said. “The steak is nice quality meat; we have been successful with it for seven years now.”

Besides the cheesesteaks, DeLuca ranked the chicken wings as the second most popular item on the menu. Another favorite is the hand-packed burgers, made fresh daily. There is also a wide variety of cold cuts, specialty sandwiches, sliders, wraps, salads, soups and unique appetizers, plus much more.

“There are a lot of recipes going on in the kitchen,” DeLuca said. “The kitchen does a very god job of putting things together. The presentation is always good.”

High Stakes offers specials and entertainment every day of the week, including happy hour daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  

“Locals know what they are going to get and the tourists enjoy coming here because it is affordable, it’s good,” DeLuca said.

High Stakes currently offers trivia on Monday, $2 Bottles on Tuesday, free Texas Hold’em Poker tournaments on Wednesdays and the weekend of musical entertainment kicks off on Thursday to ensure those locals who are committed to working weekends have the chance to get out and have some fun.

Musician Baltimore Bob starts Thursdays off at 4 p.m. with other local bands and musicians taking over at 9 p.m. Performers include Christopher Button, Joe Mamma, Kevin Poole, Lower Case Blues, Lime Greene, Melissa Alesi and Galaxy Collective.

High Stakes rocks Friday through Sundays with Bobby Burns playing  at 4 p.m., and on Fridays DJ Zman takes over at 9 p.m. and DJ Rupe at the same time on Saturdays.

On top of High Stakes specials and schedule of entertainment, the location can’t get any better, DeLuca said.

“It’s not too far away from Ocean City where you are going to get lost,” DeLuca said “You can get out of the Ocean City crowd and come here and you’re still right next door.”

Starting out as the deli next door, DeLuca said, “When you start something, you always want to go as far as you possibly can and that is always the goal,” he said. “I mean whether or not you do it that is the risk you have to take, you always have to put your best foot forward and hope that you make it instead of sink it.”

DeLuca reports this year has been his best so far and is confident that it will only get better from here.

“Everything is coming together and there is always room for improvement in anything you do, so we take a lot of customer consideration … we do things to make the customers feel comfortable and that’s all you can aim for,” he said.