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                                 A Jersey Gem with Rutgers Roots:
The Silverball Museum
        By Ron Ghilino RC’80
Shining like a blinking beacon on the Asbury Park boardwalk is the Silverball Museum. For those of us with a healthy obsession for classic pinball
machines and arcade games, this is the place to be down the Jersey Shore. It is here where Robert Ilvento shares his extensive collection of pinball machines with the public.
Robert Ilvento was a typical Rutgers student until fate hit him in the form of a chicken wing.
“My brother came back from Syracuse and gave me something called a buffalo chicken wing,” Ilvento recalls. Nobody at Rutgers had heard of a buffalo chicken wing in the mid-1980s, and to a self- admitted serial entrepreneur, this could mean only one thing: drop out of Rutgers and start Cluck-U-Chicken.
Cluck-U was a popular staple for Rutgers students and the local community for many years. The company had grown to 33 locations, and Ilvento sold the company in 1999. Several years later, he
started the Jersey Shore Fry Company which supplies restaurants, bars, clubs, stadiums, and more with thick-cut French fries.
“I honestly think this is the best French fry around,” said Ilvento.
So, how pinball?
Fifteen years ago, Ilvento became a passionate collector of pinball machines. His daughter, Morgan, who is on the autism spectrum, developed a great fondness for pinball machines when she accompanied her father to purchase a 1967 Gottlieb Melody game.
Her attraction to the game set Ilvento in a direction he had not thought about previously.
“My collection started with one machine, then two; now
we own hundreds,” says Ilvento.
Ilvento co-founded the Silverball Museum in Asbury Park, New Jersey, in 2009 with Steven Zuckerman, founder and CEO of Clipper Magazine. As Asbury Park began to make a comeback, Ilvento and the