What for years was Atlantic City’s largest non-casino entertainment complex has reopened as the lavish Diving Horse Cabaret and Steakhouse.
ATLANTIC CITY — The stunning new development at 9 South Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard should help boost hope that reinvesting in Atlantic City is becoming a more attractive prospect — one that sees the comprehensive entertainment package and not just the gambling allure that’s being gobbled up by competition elsewhere.
It may also serve as a sign of how some things come full-circle — at least where the site itself applies, if not the entire city.
For years, what is now the Diving Horse Cabaret and Steakhouse was the Club Tru complex. It started when businessman John Schultz (later an A.C. councilman; currently co-chair of the philanthropic Schultz-Hill Foundation) opened a small bar called the Brass Rail, then gradually expanded it to include two adjoining nightclubs (Club Tru and Studio Six), and the 50-room Surfside Hotel, with balconies overlooking a pool. It was Atlantic City’s largest non-casino entertainment complex constructed from the ground up.
In 2005, developer Tom Sherwood Sr. bought the Club Tru complex from Schultz and partner Gary Hill and continued to run it essentially the same way they had. Then in 2008 it ceased operation suddenly with no immediate indication of what was to come. Last Thursday, May 12, any uncertainty became crystal clear when Sherwood unveiled the Diving Horse at a soft opening/media event along with his son, Tom Sherwood Jr., the company CEO.
“We bought it five years ago, we let it run itself for two years but we didn’t like the way it was being run, so we closed it down and remodeled the whole thing,” says Sherwood Sr. “Right now what you’re seeing is one third of the entire complex [a section that includes a gentleman’s club with burlesque but non-nude dancers below, and an upscale steakhouse and lounge on a second level]. Eventually we’ll be opening Club Luxx, hopefully by July 4th, which will be used for special events like bachelorette parties during the week and a dance club on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Club Luxx and other components are still awaiting certificates of occupancy from the city, and the hotel section of the 55,000-square-foot complex has not yet been renovated. When it is, it will serve as a romantic getaway for couples along the same lines as the Inn of the Dove suites in Egg Harbor Twp. Sherwood has easily shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to get to this stage of the project alone, and the gentleman’s club and steakhouse sections of the operation should be fully functional by Memorial Day Weekend.
“Now, I know this isn’t a good climate to invest money and be opening a new business in Atlantic City, but I felt like now is a good time to make a move,” says Sherwood, who is also an artist who designed the Diving Horse logo. “Right now properties are cheap, opportunity is great, and I didn’t want to miss out. I’m telling all my friends ‘get your asses down here, buy property and do something. The time is ripe.’
“I do a lot of business in Seattle, New York and other parts of the country, and whenever I’d host clients in A.C. I kept hearing ‘where is there a gentleman’s club?’ There are strip clubs, but no gentleman’s clubs and I wanted to open an upscale place where businessmen can enjoy themselves in a clean, safe environment without the strip-club mentality.”
The two lounge components of the finished section of the property are the Sonora Lounge and the Red Lips Lounge, named for a famous rider and horse, respectively, from the days of the Diving Horse attraction on A.C.’s Steel Pier.
“I’m 66, but as a kid I used to come down here and shine shoes, and when I was about 13 I used to go to the Steel Pier and watch the diving horse,” says Sherwood. “The Sonora Lounge is named for Sonora Carver, a lady who was blinded when she hit the water wrong but still continued to ride the diving horse while blind. The horse she rode was named Red Lips.”
For more, visit divinghorseclub.com.
The ceremony, which runs from 7-9pm, with an after-party to follow at the venue, will bring together the best bartenders and bar teams in the Atlantic City region (both casino and non-casino representatives) as voted by our readers at acweekly.com.
As long as the dancers don't get naked or touch the patrons in a provocative way, such a club would be permissible, according to the report.
Last May’s grand opening of the Diving Horse Cabaret & Steakhouse was among Atlantic City’s social events of the spring, touting a sort of who’s-who list of the resort’s top executives and dignitaries with a swagger that was certainly justifiable.
John Schultz is quick to point out that the Brass Rail, a 12-seat bar sited off a one-way side street in midtown Atlantic City, was not the catalyst to what was once a thriving social scene for the area’s gay community. That existed long before he purchased the bar in 1971, he says.
Let’s Get the Parties Started!
Margate’s Music Revival
Clancy’s By the Bayfest
A ‘Haven’ at Golden Nugget