It's time again for cold drinks, cool breezes, warm company and hot music.
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 Party every Friday night, two live bands on Saturdays, and a radio broadcast on 98.3 FM every Sunday during Motown Night. DJs will spin tunes from 4pm-midnight most weekdays, with an occasional live performance mixed in.
"On Thursdays we're doing a karaoke competition with a live band that's sort of like the TV series [Rock Star Supernova], where the winner at the end of the summer gets to perform live at Jezebel's, our casino club bar, and gets a professional CD made of their recording," says Trump Plaza's director of food and beverage, Antonio Sanza.
Sanza says the Trump Plaza Beach Bar did over $65,000 in business on opening day 2007, and is on pace to shatter its single-day record of over $75,000. Part of that figure came from private tables and gazebos available for rent at $500 to $1,000 per night, each including personal servers. Another popular amenity is half-priced appetizers offered to all casino/restaurant employees from 7pm-closing during the week.
"We're already up 30 to 40 percent in sales over last year, and every indicator is that it's just going to get better," says Jen Nikander, Trump Plaza's beverage and beach bar manager.
Bally's Bikini Beach Bar recently commenced its fourth season, and has expanded to accommodate an additional 200 guests (for a maximum capacity of 618) and 27 more tables. Its food menu also grew to include delicacies from Pickles Deli, a popular eatery on the Boardwalk adjacent to the retro restaurant Johnny Rockets. The Bikini Beach Bar relocated its eight private cabanas-for-rent so that each has a perfect, unobstructed view of the ocean, and all are adjacent to a small, fenced-in area that can be utilized for private functions.
"We've already had two weddings out here since we opened," says Bikini Beach Bar assistant manager Kristen Casper. "Every day we'll have a DJ beginning at 4pm, and we'll have live music every day on the weekends. At least one day a week we'll also be doing promotional events."
The Bikini Beach Bar has an vast assortment of signature drinks and frozen concoctions priced from $6 for shooters (like the "Dodging Jitneys") to $13 (like the "Electric Margarita").
The Hilton Beach Bar is the only one of the three located on the Boardwalk side of the dunes, and will kick off the summertime weekends with legendary DJ (and AC Weekly columnist) Jerry Blavat every Friday night. Blavat will broadcast his popular radio show from 5-7pm on Cruisin' 92.1 FM. There are also several live bands scheduled to perform on weekends, such as That '70s Band and Steel Source, and numerous promotional events and prize giveaways on tap.
Renowned for its signature drinks, some popular Hilton Beach Bar concoctions include the Man Overboard, the Midnight Pass, the South Beach and the Coco Rhuuumba, many served in souvenir glasses. While smoking has been banned at most indoor settings throughout the state, it is permissible at the beach bars and the Hilton will maximize that advantage with a selection of fine cigars for sale.
Hilton Beach Bar
Address: Boston Avenue and the Boardwalk
Hours: Open daily through Labor Day from 11:30am-10pm.
Details: The Hilton Beach Bar is the only one located on the Boardwalk side of the sand dunes. It features both live and DJ entertainment, and every Friday evening from 5-7pm legendary DJ Jerry Blavat will broadcast his radio show live on Cruisin' 92.1 FM. Along with its extensive food menu, drinks served in souvenir glasses and cigars will be sold. Popular drinks include the Man Overboard, Midnight Pass, and Coco Rhuuumba. See www.hiltonac.com/dining.
Bally's Bikini Beach Bar
Address: Ohio Avenue (Park Place) at the Boardwalk
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. noon-8pm; Fri.-Sat. noon-2am; Sun. noon-10pm. Open daily through Labor Day weekend.
Details: The Bikini Beach Bar has expanded to accommodate over additional 200 guests, and has eight private, beachfront cabanas available for rent. It features DJ entertainment from 4pm during the week, and has live bands on weekends. In addition to its regular menu, it offers a condensed version of the popular Pickles Deli on the Boardwalk menu. See www.harrahs.com/ballys.
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.
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. ...
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