Rocker Sammy Hagar has partnered with Bally's in Atlantic City to open Sammy's Beach Bar & Grill this Memorial Day weekend.
Bally’s Atlantic City is losing its Bikini Beach Bar this summer — but don’t go crying in your beer just yet.
Rock singer and inveterate party animal Sammy Hagar will add his name and fame to the Atlantic City beachfront Memorial Day weekend when he opens a branch of Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill at Bally’s.
“It’s going to be the best food and drinks in the most casual environment with some rock ‘n roll thrown in,” the former Van Halen frontman-turned-solo-artist told me late last week. “Where else can you come out of the ocean, sit down, grab a drink and something to eat and listen to good music? It’s gonna be a fun hang.”
Not surprisingly, the union between the casino and Hagar was brokered by Hagar’s longtime friend, Don Marrandino, president of the eastern division of Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns Bally’s.
“Sammy has built a career about being a beach guy,” Marrandino said of the Red Rocker, who was born in Monterey, Calif.
“He was the first guy to go down to Cabo [San Lucas, Mexico] and turn it into a rock place 20 years ago,” he added. “He is his own brand, and he stands for good old rock ‘n roll, good music, fun and just hanging out.”
The joint venture between Hagar and Harrah’s is another attempt at creating a tighter bond between the casino company and the entertainment community in an effort to rebuild, revitalize and re-brand Atlantic City, Marrandino explained.
“People like celebrities, and one of the things Atlantic City hasn’t done a good job at is creating [relationships] with the celebrities,” the casino boss said. “We’re trying to change that and I think we’ve got the perfect guy [in Hagar] to help us.”
Hagar and Marrandino, a native of Brigantine, met in Las Vegas years ago, when the casino executive was climbing the corporate ladder. They hit it off immediately and have become so close that Hagar, 62, refers to Marrandino, 50, as “my big little brother.”
“We’ve done other projects together and they’ve always turned out amazingly well,” Hagar said. “I have no doubt Sammy’s Beach Bar will be successful.”
Hagar currently has several Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grills, which are mostly in airports. He also owns several Cabo Wabo Cantinas, including the original store in Mexico and others scattered around the country. Hagar said he’s very careful about whom he partners with because at the end of the day, it’s his reputation that’s at stake.
“I don’t pursue people I don’t know about things like this,” Hagar said. “Because when you do something with someone you don’t know, the next thing you know is they’re coming back to you and saying, ‘Hey, guess what? We turned it into a strip club, or we turned it into a disco.’ I can’t let that happen, because I have a very strong image and brand [to protect] with anything that has to do with me or my lifestyle.”
Hagar said he jumped at the opportunity to work with Marrandino, and not simply because of their friendship.
“Don claims, and I almost agree with him, that he may get my brand better than I do,” the Red Rocker said with a laugh. “So when he comes in and says I wanna do [the beach bar], there were never any questions.”
Hagar is scheduled to preside over the formal opening of Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill — date to be announced — but beyond that, he doesn’t have a list of scheduled appearances. However, Marrandino expects to see his buddy on a fairly regular basis this summer.
“It won’t be very scripted,” Marrandino said, “but we do expect him to pop in and out during the summer. Even when he’s not here, he’ll be here in spirit. People coming into town [via the Atlantic City Expressway] will see a billboard of Sammy sitting in a beach chair with a bottle of Corona and a shot of tequila.”
By setting up shop on the beach, Hagar will become one of Harrah’s Entertainment’s “community partners” and help the company in its efforts to give back to the region where it owns four casinos.
“I give all the money away to charity, so it’s not like this is some big business venture for me,” Hagar said. “It’s really about the community. So now in Atlantic City, I can start my services for kids. It’s all about helping kids, their education, feeding them, clothing them, housing them, whatever is takes. It’s all about kids.”
Oh, one last thing about Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill.
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.
Sammy’s will be open the weekend of May 18-20, in tandem with Hagar’s band Chickenfoot playing the House of Blues that Friday night, May 18, then the Wailers will kick off Sammy’s summer season and daily schedule through Labor Day with a special Friday, May 25, performance at 8pm.
"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..."
"The change reflects our evolution as the industry's leading provider of branded casino entertainment."
NYE 2013 Shows in Atlantic City
Hall Passes on Moody Blues Again
Steve Martin in Atlantic City
Atlantic City Summer Concerts
Whitney Cummings Talks