Atlantic City's ever-changing beach bar scene is set for a ninth summer
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. Keeping things new and lively is, of course, the key to having customers come back, and that’s becoming an ever-increasing necessity as the resort faces more and more out-of-state casino competition. Foremost on this summer’s originality list is that the city’s northernmost beach bar is now associated with a bona fide rock star. What was called Bally’s Bikini Beach Bar is now Sammy Hagar’s Beach Bar, as the Red Rocker, Cabo Wabo cantina owner and tequila-brand creator was coaxed into town by his longtime friend, Don Marrandino. The Harrah’s Entertainment Eastern Division president had a hand in Hagar’s expanding his Cabo Wabo brand name, including creating two more of the notorious nightclub/cantinas that originated in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. This will be Hagar’s first beach-bar enterprise on the East Coast.
“There’s a major investment and expenditure involved in putting together a Cabo Wabo, but beach bars are different,” Hagar tells Atlantic City Weekly. “They’re basically just beach shacks with great food and great drinks. As soon as Donny went home [to A.C.], we agreed to put something together there and, boom, we made it happen. He said the beach bar at Bally’s would be perfect, so we decorated it up, we put some good music in there, a little bit different cocktail menu and — it’s a Sammy’s Beach Bar!
“Donny’s a good guy, a man of his word,” adds Hagar. “We see eye to eye. If Don says ‘I’m going to put the beach bar and grill there, don’t worry about it,’ I don’t worry about it. The only problem I have with Don is, I wouldn’t turn my back on him if I was with a good-looking woman.”
So far Hagar has yet to see his latest investment (from which any personal income derived, as with his other beach bars and cantinas, gets donated to children’s charities), but he promises not to be an absentee landlord forever.
“The night before the Aerosmith gig [Aug. 28 at Boardwalk Hall] we’ll have a big party there the day before the show and the night after the show,” he says. “I definitely plan to stay in A.C. and patronize my own site.
“It’s the kind of place that mirrors my lifestyle. 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.”
The Trump Plaza Beach Bar, the largest of the three at roughly 15,000 square feet, will feature different “themed” nights this summer (such as “Sex and the Atlantic City” Fridays) and a variety of entertainment and drink specials each night. It’s marina-district counterpart, The Deck, is doing something similar. The Plaza Beach Bar also has several special events planned that will be announced as they draw near, one of which is a Lady Gaga tribute act to coincide with the pop diva’s July 4 appearance at Boardwalk Hall.
“I hired a young lady from Canada who does a half-hour Lady Gaga act called ‘Poker Face’ [named after one of her hit songs],” says Bill Schmal, Trump Entertainment Resorts director of entertainment. “At approximately 11pm, after the Lady Gaga concert lets out and the beach bar fills up, the Lady Gaga tribute act will go on. She comes down from Toronto with a group of dancers and is really good. It’ll be off the hook.”
Last summer the Trump Plaza Beach Bar earned accolades as one of the “sexiest beach bars in the country” by the Travel Channel’s 21 Series. It has an extensive food (as the only beach bar with its own kitchen) and drink menu, including frozen concoctions like mararitas, daiquiris and coladas, and signature drinks like the Lucky 13, Cuban Cooler and Ship Wrecked.
Not to be overlooked is the new Star Bar at Casbah at the Trump Taj Mahal. The newly renovated outdoor bar features “Atlantic City’s only bottle service with a beachfront view,” according to the Taj, and was created in conjunction with the Casbah’s 10th anniversary this year.
The Hilton Beach Bar is the only one of the three built in between the Boardwalk and the sand dunes, which, while hampering the ocean view a bit, can make for a more comfortable setting in the evening when the sea breezes come blowin’ in. Like its indoor counterpart the Dizzy Dolphin, you can get 22-ounce signature cocktails like the Man Overboard, Coco Nutts or the Midnight Pass, served in souvenir glasses. Its menu was revamped last summer and includes such delectables as fresh fruit, salads and wraps, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, BBQ ribs, sausage and peppers, king crab legs and shrimp.
The Beach Bar at Trump Plaza
Where: Mississippi Avenue and the Boardwalk
Hours: 11:30am-midnight Sun.-Thurs.; until 2am Fri. & Sat.
Details: Live bands and entertainment nightly, tropical drink specials and dancing. Each day a different theme night including Beach Blast Mondays, SIN on the Beach Tuesdays, Beach Idol Wednesdays, Live Rockin’ Thursdays, Sex and the Atlantic City Fridays, Sultry Saturdays and Locals Day Sundays.
On the Web: trumpplaza.com
The Deck at Trump Marina
Where: Huron Ave. and Brigantine Blvd. in the A.C. marina district (adjacent to Frank S. Farley State Marina)
Hours: noon-1am Mon.-Fri.; 8am-1am Sat. & Sun.
Details: The marina district’s beach-bar equivalent, The Deck has live bands nightly, drink specials and great food. Themed nights including Loud and Local Monday, Kickin’ Country Tuesday, Key West Wednesday, B-Streets Night (Bruce Springsteen tribute) Thursday, and live entertainment all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with a 1-3pm happy hour on weekends and a 5-8pm sunset happy hour on Sunday.
On the Web: trumpmarina.com
Hilton Beach Bar
Where: Boston and Pacific avenues on the Boardwalk
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11:30am-10pm, 11:30am-2am Fri. & Sat.
Details: The southern-most beach bar, and the only one sited between the dunes and the boards, will have live entertainment, tropical drinks, a variety of summer snacks, special events and activities, prize giveaways and tribute bands every Friday night starting July 2. This Sunday, June 27, the Grateful Dead tribute band Steal Your Face performs from 1-6pm.
On the Web: hiltonac.com
Sammy’s Beach Bar at Bally’s
Where: Park Place and the Boardwalk
Hours: 11:30am-midnight Sun.-Thurs.; until 2am Fri. & Sat.
Phone: 441-6000 or 236-6983
Details: Specializing in Tex-Mex style food and tequila-infused cocktails, Sammy’s will have live entertainment Thursdays through Saturdays and DJs the rest of the week. There will be themed nights including Latin Night Monday, ’80s night Wednesday, and tribute bands on Thursdays. Happy hour is every Sunday through Friday, 5-7pm.
On the Web: ballysac.com
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