Well known in the Atlantic City area as the 'singing bartender,' Blanche Morro is also a master of multi-tasking. She is now at Resorts' 25 Hours lounge.
If your multi-tasking abilities don’t extend much beyond walking and talking at the same time, your first reaction may be envy if you stop by Resorts’ perpetually open 25 Hours lounge and see what Blanche Morro can do.
But stick around awhile and envy will likely morph into admiration, as Morro sings her way through her shift — with a voice Resorts president Dennis Gomes praises as “angelic” — all the while mixing drinks and making change for her customers.
An EHT resident, Morro has had a diversified career thus far, working as a wedding photographer and in various roles in the hospitality and retail fields. But it was at the Chelsea Pub during the mid-1990s that she found she could combine her love of singing with her vocation as a mixologist, reading customers’ lips to take their orders. A casino executive working under then Tropicana CEO Gomes recognized her special blend of skills, and after seeing her himself, Gomes hired her to sing/bartend at a bar bestowed with her name inside what was then the Trop’s Tiffany Lounge.
The Tropicana run lasted seven years (1998-2005), and about five years later, with Gomes and financial partner Morris Bailey at the helm of Resorts, Morro is back in Atlantic City as the bartending balladeer, appearing every Tuesday through Saturday from 4-10pm at Resorts’ 25 Hours lounge.
“Since I left Tropicana I’d seen Dennis at the various places where I’ve worked, or just out in public, and every time I’d see him he’d say, ‘You know, when I get back into Atlantic City, you’re back,’” says Morro, who has recorded two CDs, each of which includes duets with her daughter, Ashlie. “I’m not the kind of person who would hold somebody to that without knowing what the future brings, but he was literally very adamant about the fact that he was getting back into Atlantic City, and I was going to be back wherever he was.”
Gomes proved good to his word.
“I’m telling you, the day after he found out he was purchasing Resorts was when I got a phone call, and he literally said, ‘I told you this was going to happen,’” says Morro. “I thought he was kidding me.”
In the roughly two months since her Resorts gig began (Dec. 7), Morro has already had ancillary opportunities crop up, including a possible role in a musical that a producer may bring to town.
“Ever since I started, good things have happened,” she says. “Somebody was in the lounge, drinking soda and making song requests, and I found out he was a show producer who is considering bringing an off-Broadway show to Atlantic City. He told me, ‘That was a hell of an audition.’ I said audition? I didn’t even know I was auditioning.”
As has been well documented, Gomes is theming Resorts in a 1920s motif suggestive of Boardwalk Empire, which will include bartenders, bellhops, cocktail servers and other employees dressed in period-apropos costumes (including the “flapper” look of the 1920s, which debuted during AC Weekly’s Nightlife Awards party at Resorts’ Boogie Nights on Jan. 27). It will also extend to such things as period-appropriate cocktails served and entertainment provided, and Morro has already begun including more music from the Nucky Johnson era into her song repertoire.
“The ’20s thing is something that we’re adding and I’m excited about it, because it makes people’s heads turn,” says Morro. “When they hear me singing a song from back then, it automatically invokes romance and sentimentality, and people are really responding to it.
“I was apprised of the new format before I started, and I already knew many songs from that era from having done a big-band show at Trump Marina years ago. But it’s not like I do a whole set of ’20s music — it’s that I’ve been adding a couple of ’20s songs here and there so I can get up to speed once the new theme is fully implemented. And once it is, it’s going to be awesome.
“I think if Dennis can maintain the level of customer service that he expected when I worked at Tropicana, and if everything goes as well as expected and this economy is cooperative, I think it’s going to be great,” she adds. “Some people seem to want to fall back on the old standards instead of seeing new potential. Me? I’ve always been a glass-half-full kind of person.”
Blanche ‘The Singing Bartender’ Morro
Where: Resorts’ 25 Hours lounge, A.C.
When: Tues.-Sat. 4-10pm
How Much: No cover charge. Happy hour is 3-9pm weekdays.
Presumably, the casino will skip the violence and racketeering of Boardwalk Empire — which also dives into the early careers of mobsters like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano — and just go for the ‘20s party atmosphere. But Gomes, in a press release, does say that the casino is responding to the success of the show, which has quickly become a critical darling.
Asking me to name my favorite Atlantic City casino is like asking me to name the best show I’ve ever seen. It can’t be done. Just as every great show has that one certain something that gives it its individuality, each of the city’s 11 casino hotels has a personality that makes it stand on its own, at least for me. For reasons that are as professional as they are sometimes personal, I’ve always maintained that each casino has one quality that sets it apart from the others. Yet none have — and probably never will — achieved “favored” status with me. It’s like me asking you to name your favorite kid. But there is one property that will forever have a very special place in my heart, and...
“I only wore this suit for you guys,” says Gomes, tugging at his collar. “When I’m working, you’ll never catch me in a suit.”
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