ATLANTIC CITY — The more the word “hybrid” has worked its way into the public lexicon, the more clear it becomes that there’s a widespread trend toward appealing to a greater variety of people, and/or being able to multi-purpose or accomplish many objectives. It used to be that people, places or things that strived for mass appeal could never do any one thing really well — but that seems to be a changing trend.
Harry’s Oyster Bar and Seafood, sited off the Dennis Courtyard at Bally’s, gains crossover appeal on several fronts. Like its parent properties — Atlantic City’s venerable and more upscale dining spots Dock’s Oyster House and the Knife & Fork — Harry’s still offers the freshest fare in the city but it’s presented in a more basic form, thereby keeping costs more affordable to masses.
“We wanted to go with an old-time seafood house feel,” says Maureen Shay, co-owner of Harry’s with her husband Frank Dougherty (great grandson of Harry Dougherty, namesake of Harry’s and 1897 founder of Dock’s). “We don’t focus as much on fancy preparations or sauces, but it’s still the high quality, really fresh seafood that you’d expect at Dock’s or Knife and Fork. It’s just something that’s a little more accessible to a lunch crowd or a casino crowd, or those strolling in off the Boardwalk. It’s more casual.”
That casual environment has also helped Harry’s cross over to the sport-bar enthusiast. Since football season started, Harry’s has been a popular place for game watching both indoors, where it feature a 40-seat bar with nine HDTV flat-screens and several adjacent cocktail tables, and an outdoor bar/patio area that’s been a hit with those who prefer al fresco football watching.
“It’s weather dependent, but it’s very easy for us to open and close it,” says Shay. “We have it open as much as possible. We’ll only close it if it freezing out or there’s a driving rain, but we’ve had people even sit out there [at the semi-enclosed bar area] in a light rain. A lot of people just love to be outside, and since we’re set back from the Boardwalk and a little more sheltered from the wind, it’s a good spot for it. With this past weekend’s nice weather there were a lot of people outside watching football.”
Harry’s, which debuted in July, is open daily at noon and has many game-day specials Saturday for college football, Sunday afternoons and Monday (soon Thursday) nights for the NFL. With the Comcast College package and DirecTV, there is not a kickoff it’s incapable of receiving. Specials include $2 Bud Light drafts and $6 Bud Light pitchers, $2 Dos Equis bottles, $5 Bloody Marys, $2 sliders and 50-cent wings. These and other specials are also available during a daily 4-7pm Happy hour, and there is live music (also weather permitting) in the courtyard every Friday and Saturday night.
“We’ll continue [live music] as long as it’s nice, and we’ve been toying with the idea of moving it inside when it’s not nice outside,” says Shay. “We have the space, and the acoustics inside are excellent.”
Seasonal beers are a staple at Harry’s, with Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Dogfish Punkin Ale being October beers-of-the-month. There’s also Long Island’s Blue Point Ale on tap, and several bottled Oktoberfest and seasonal beers such as Hacker-Pschorr, Ayinger, Shipyard Pumpkin Ale and Crispin Apple Cider. This being “Shucktoberfest” at Harry’s, patrons can get $1 oysters from 4-6pm during “Buck-a-Shuck” Wednesdays, and pumpkin or caramel apple martinis are on special daily.
Harry’s also has the advantage of having an entrance right next to Bally’s valet-parking drop-off point, and there is a pedestrian walkway leading from Bally’s that makes it easy to access from the self-park garage.
“One of the big things that people complain about with a restaurant inside a casino is parking, and having to walk long distances to get to where you’re going,” says Shay. “That’s not the case here — you won’t have to go across the casino floor or find you way through a maze to get here.”