Since beach bars first appeared in Atlantic City 10 years ago, they’ve proven to be a gamble worth taking.
ATLANTIC CITY — There was a swirl of controversy surrounding the decision to allow bars on Atlantic City’s beaches for what seemed like at least a decade, the keynote complaint being that bringing alcohol onto the beach might compound criminal activity.
That really never happened, however, largely because the bars were enclosed and well isolated from the rest of the beach scene, there’s always been a strong security presence, and the bars brought to Atlantic City so much more than just imbibing on the beach.
They’ve been a lively, fun and safe addition to A.C.’s landscape, and at 10 years since they first appeared, also a sort of forerunner to the realization that the resort had to start thinking about expanding its horizons in the face of impending gambling competition.
Beach bars have not existed completely without contention, though. At one time there were as many as seven on A.C.’s beaches, including an enormous one called Nikki Beach (spun from a chain founded in South Beach, Miami) in front of Resorts that had its own 4,500-seat outdoor amphitheater. Complaints stemming from the fact that some bars were taking up too much bathing space, particularly on A.C.’s more narrow north end, caused the state Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP) to close some down in 2006.
Currently there are three Atlantic City beach bars, two of which — Hilton (the only one that is not dismantled and stored at the end of the summer, and the only one on the Boardwalk side of the dunes), and Trump Plaza (the largest of the three) — are originals. The third, Sammy’s Beach Bar (formerly Bally’s Bikini Beach Bar before rock star Sammy Hagar lent his name to it last year), opened the following year, in summer 2003. The marina district’s equivalent would be The Deck at Golden Nugget (formerly Trump Marina), that offers much the same ambience and entertainment as the others, but overlooks Farley Marina and the Absecon Inlet, not the beach and ocean.
Trump Plaza Beach Bar hosted a summer-season kickoff party last Friday, June 3, featuring bands comprised of members of the media. Among them were the Ocean Ryders (with Atlantic City Weekly editor Jeff Schwachter) and Rendezvous (with Philadelphia Daily News Atlantic City columnist Chuck Darrow). (Click here to see video from this event.) On Thursday, June 23, in anticipation of the three-day Dave Matthews Band Caravan concert at Bader Field (June 24-26), the DMB tribute group Grey Street Band will perform. Starting June 28, it switches from weekends-only to every day, when themed nights will include Latin Night Monday, Euro Night Tuesday, Rock ‘n’ Shot Wednesday, S.I.N. Night Thursday and Absolut Friday.
Sammy’s Beach Bar (left) promises an occasional drop-in by the rock legend himself (last year he and his band the Wabos opened for Aerosmith on Aug. 28, and he put in a special-guest appearance at the beach bar before the show). Like his Cabo Wabo cantinas (in Mexico and Las Vegas), Sammy’s Beach Bar has a Tex-Mex-styled menu, specialty drinks infused with Sammy’s Cabo Wabo brand tequila, and a varied entertainment slate.
“It’s the kind of place that mirrors my lifestyle,” Hagar told AC Weekly last summer. “You’ve got a little rock ‘n’ roll going, the drinks are to my specifications, you want to walk in wearing flip-flops, a tank top and a swimsuit, and you’re fine. And don’t forget sunglasses. If you really want to be cool you’ve got to have your sunglasses on. Just come as you are and leave the way you want to be.”
Unlike Trump Plaza that commences a daily schedule later this month (and the Hilton that remains a Friday-through-Sunday operation throughout the summer), Sammy’s jumped into a daily routine right from Memorial Day weekend. This weekend’s live entertainment includes the bands Lifespeed on Friday (starting 8pm), Higher Hands (2pm) and Speaker City (7pm) on Saturday, and Steppin’ Razor on Sunday (4pm).
“Last year’s response to Sammy’s was so overwhelmingly positive that we just had to bring it back,” says Joe Domenico, senior vice president and general manager of Bally’s and Showboat Atlantic City.
Compact but cozy, the 7,300-square-foot Hilton Beach Bar will feature four lives bands this weekend (Second Majesty on Friday, That ’70s Band and Scene Changer on Saturday, and Steel Source on Sunday). Its food menu consists mainly of burgers, sandwiches, snacks and light fare, and it has an extensive menu of specialty frozen drinks, several of which are served in souvenir shakers.
The Deck provides that outdoor, waterfront ambience away from the Boardwalk. This weekend (June 10-12) will feature the live bands Usual Suspects on Friday night (starting 7:30pm), Bob, Kit & Greg on Saturday and Sunday afternoons (2:30-6pm), and The Benderz on Saturday night (7:30pm). It turns daily June 27, and one of the highlights of its schedule is its annual weekend-long Fakefest concert, which takes place July 8-10 with tribute bands performing the music of Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, Heart and Chicago. The Deck also features 46-ounce pitchers not only for beer, but for cocktail concoctions like Rum Runner Punch and Atlantic City Spiked Tea.
Hilton Beach Bar
Address: Boston Ave. and the Boardwalk
What it will be called is anyone’s guess.
Beach bars have been a seasonal boon to a casino property’s bottom line since they first appeared, and sort of foreshadowed the need for Atlantic City to expand its tourist options before that need became critical. Revel has plans for a 45,000 square-foot outdoor adjunct property called the HQ Beach Club, but thus far has kept the club’s open date under wraps.
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We understand that a three-day hullabaloo like the Dave Matthews Band Caravan may bring folks to town who have never been here before, and may not have a clue as to what to do before and after the bands perform — or perhaps may want to take a break from the Bader Field confines to see or do something else.
It’s sort of hard to believe that this is the ninth summer for beach bars in Atlantic City, and a big part of that dubiety may hinge on diversity. New concepts and configurations seem to spring up every summer that add elements of freshness to the whole beach-bar scene, and this year is by no means an exception.
"I have a fixation with the color red. When I get into a red room I feel different, I act different, it gives me comfort. I have about 65 red guitars..."
Although Sammy Hagar wasn’t in attendance yesterday to launch his new enterprise at Bally’s, Sammy’s Beach Bar, the Red Rocker’s ambiance was all over the former Bally’s Bikini Beach Bar as it opened for the season.
Sometimes a great idea reaching fruition requires a lot of patience on the part of many people, and a good deal of fine-tuning to make it assimilate. Such is the case with Atlantic City's thriving beach-bar scene. It is a subject that was talked about a lot before it actually happened, then, with as many as seven beach bars on the Boardwalk at one time, it nearly all disappeared due to a Department of Environmental Protection ruling. The DEP forced some beach bars to close due to an encroachment issue, but the three that remain have continuously modified their layouts, tweaked their menus and amenities, and experimented with various combinations to the extent that even the most persnickety shoobie would have a hard time finding fault with any of them. They are immensely popular summertime stomping grounds, and most certainly key components to Atlantic City's revitalization. The largest of the three, and one of the originals dating back to 2002, is The Beach Bar at Trump Plaza, which encompasses over 15,000 square feet. It features a full-service kitchen that affords the most extensive food menu of the three, and has a summer-long entertainment slate that includes Bob Pantano's Dance...
� THIS WEEKEND MARKS THE beginning of beach bar season 2004. After many years of failing to capitalize on the fact that Atlantic City is located on a beach, last year, the casino industry and city fathers collectively worked to make it possible to serve alcoholic beverages on the beach. An ordinance was passed by City Council and signed by Mayor Lorenzo Langford enabling public bar service. Three casinos -- Caesars, Trump Plaza and the Hilton -- acted quickly to open beach bars and delighted guests with cocktails served amidst the most amazing views that can be offered anywhere: the sand and surf along the Atlantic Ocean. This year, those three are back and they'll be joined by Bally's new Bikini Beach Bar. This year's controversial beach replenishment program has been a blessing and a curse for the beach bars this year. On one hand, every beach in Atlantic City has been made wider by the pumping of additional sand onto the oceanfront. Considering the quality of our clean, white beach sand, this is a very good thing. Trust me, compared to other "beach resorts" I've been to in the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas, in Mexico and in other parts of the...
LAST YEAR, ATLANTIC CITY began a new era with permits allowing casinos to put beach bars on the beach. Three casinos took advantage of this opportunity and the visitors and residents were glad they did. The Atlantic City Hilton was the first to get into the act. They put their beach bar just a few feet from the Boardwalk and provided their clientele and boardwalk strollers with musical entertainment. They also staged a couple of free beach concerts that drew several thousand people, many of whom were dancing on the sand. The Trump Plaza built a large area for their beach bar and had plenty of room for their bar customers, tables and chairs for their clientele and a large dance floor with excellent bands, keeping people on the beach until after midnight. Caesars put together a nice site, but due to the small beach, they were limited in space. However, that did not stop them from providing some outstanding entertainment for their beach bar crowd. All the casino beach bars said they did well and that the new experience for their clientele -- enjoying their favorite beverages and musical entertainment while sitting out under the moon and stars; hearing the crashing...
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