The Ugly Duckling — where rubber duckies swim atop drinks and garnish apps and entrees — has opened its third location, this time in Rockville Centre.
The brand is the brainchild of Max Feinberg, who opened his first duck-themed eatery in Long Beach in 2020. His second hatched in New York City the following year.
“‘The Ugly Duckling’ was one of my favorite children’s books growing up, and I always appreciated the fact that the moral of that story is that while everybody thought the duckling was so ugly, it turned out that he was this beautiful swan,” Feinberg said.
“So I think that when people think of bars and restaurants in Long Beach, it’s kind of a one dimensional view of what they think we’ll be offering. So the fact that we’re able to offer great food and a great entertainment program — and a little bit of something for everybody — then it kind of fit into the Ugly Duckling story.”
Once the name was decided, Feinberg flocked to all things duck. Each location boasts duck-themed or reimagined movie posters, regal ducks and walls fully loaded with the bath-time staple.
“It kind of took on a life of its own in a way that we never really thought it would,” he said. “Every location we’ve opened, we’ve changed or added something into it.”
In his second location, Feinberg added a yellow bathtub adjacent to a wall plastered in rubber duckies. He has flipped that design on its head in Rockville Centre, where all the rubber duckies reside upside-down. He even hopes to hang an upside-down yellow bathtub from the ceiling soon.
The new Rockville Centre location also features amended black-and-white photographs of iconic people, places and events throughout Long Island’s history. Yellow rubber duckies dressed appropriately for the scene bestow a splash of color and humor upon each blown up photo. Among the highlights are a saxophone-blowing ducky backing Billy Joel, a beer-drinking duck at the Boardy Barn and a web-footed goalie assisting New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock during an Islanders playoff game.
‘Something for everybody’
The Rockville Centre Ugly Duckling menu follows those in Long Beach and New York City. This means fans of the other locations can expect to order their Ugly Duckling nachos, the mac-and-cheese burger and over a dozen “ducktails” dinner and dessert cocktails. Rockville Centre also serves indoor and outdoor brunch every day, during which patrons can build their own pancakes and enjoy French toast fondue.
Like its sibling locations, the Rockville Centre duckling hosts a weekly trivia night. Every Thursday, patrons can participate in a competition focused on a new theme, such as a singular sport, television series or popular music icon.
“I think the biggest thing with the duck is that it really is multidimensional, it really is something for everybody,” Feinberg said. “It’s brunch, it’s trivia night, it’s drinks and dancing on the weekend. It’s dinner, it’s watching a sports game, it’s live music.
“We try to really have programming that’s catering to everybody, and I think that’s why the duck’s been so successful.”
Top image: Instagram/The Ugly Duckling Long Beach