By Steven Shaff, NAU Media Relations
PACIFIC BEACH, CAlif. - When Tom Winn and Peter Cich last played together in Northern Arizona's 2001 I-AA playoff game against Sam Houston State, they never envisioned they would team up again. But earlier this year, they partnered with two other investors to open the Duck Dive in Pacific Beach, in San Diego, Calif.
The former Lumberjack tight ends played together for the 2000 and 2001 seasons. Cich, who is from Palmdale, Calif., came to NAU from Cerritos Junior College. He was named the Most Improved Offensive Player after his junior season and then was an All-Big Sky selection as a senior, starting all 11 games and making 20 catches for 221 yards.
"The first day at NAU was the best, meeting Tom and the other guys and coaches," recalled Cich. "Coming into my recruiting trip I was not familiar with NAU. Looking back, I would not change it for the world. The first day was the start of it all and I cherished the whole time I was there."
Winn signed with NAU in 1999 out of Horizon High School. He had 17 catches with four touchdowns on the playoff team with Cich in 2001, starting 11 games. He went on to earn All-Big Sky honors the next two seasons. He had 20 receptions including a game-winning 50-yard score against Portland State in 2002 and a career-high 25 catches as a senior. He capped off his career with a touchdown in the home playoff game against Florida Atlantic in 2003.
"My favorite moments were with my teammates," said Winn. "I also will cherish the times we made playoffs and the fun we had in the locker room. I had a great experience with a lot of the coaches and still keep in touch with them. It is fun staying in contact."
Following their time at NAU, the tight end duo ended up working together at a bar in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter called Hennessey's. Cich went on to work at the Pacific Bach Shore Club where he is both an investor and manager, while Winn transferred to the Pacific Beach location of Hennessey's. Last year, they had an opportunity to team up again and purchase the property, reopening it under the Duck Dive brand last March.
The unique name is the first impression for clients and patrons, resulting from an early exchange of ideas among the owners.
"We got together in the creative process with our partners and started brainstorming ideas," said Cich. "We knew it was going to be a beach lounge because of the location. We were looking at surf terms and 70s terminology. Someone mentioned the duck dive, which is the process surfers use to go under the waves to get after the breaks in surfing. We knew it was a perfect fit."
The Duck Dive, which is located at 4650 Mission Blvd in the heart of Pacific Beach, offers a rotating line-up of local and micro brewed offerings with an extensive draft cocktail menu.
"We are shooting for an up-scale beach lounge for Pacific Beach with a good vibe with quality food and drink," said Winn.
The Duck Dive website describes the menu as dedicated to quality faire "with Gastropub inspired/contemporary American cuisine in a casual Beach lounge atmosphere."
Patrons can start with fun starters like the Duck Dive fries, the Duck Dive trio of deviled eggs or the Deep Blue or Dive caprese salads. The sandwich offerings include slow-roasted prime rib, Cubano and meatloaf items, as well as pork tenderloin, rotisserie chicken and the DD angus burger. The meals can be capped off by tableside smores, the pecan bourbon butterscotch bread pudding or the chef's choice Dessert of the Month.
With their first summer behind them, Winn and Cich believe the Duck Dive has staying power on the beach.
"It was great," said Winn. "We have a lot of experience in the industry and have a lot of friends down here on the beach. We had people in the Duck Dive all the time. For the first summer, everything went pretty smooth and we had a great summer."
Heading into the "offseason", the unique and tasty food offerings are drawing in customers every night and fueling the evenings at the establishment.
"I think the vibe of the Duck Dive should be able to sustain," said Winn. "We get a good dinner crowd and it carries over into the night. It was a good start. We are looking forward to the future."
This "Where Are They Now" feature first appeared in The Timberline, Northern Arizona's gameday football program.