The Casino File: Outdoor bars opening back up in Atlantic City; a new Resorts steakhouse; Tropicana fireworks
You'll once again be able to enjoy the summer sun in Atlantic City at a group of outdoor bars. Pictured is the Hard Rock.Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City

The Casino File: Outdoor bars opening back up in Atlantic City; a new Resorts steakhouse; Tropicana fireworks

The unofficial start of the summer season caps an upbeat week that saw encouraging economic news for AyCee’s casino industry.

It’s beginning to look a lot like normal in the oldest legal-casino jurisdiction outside Nevada.

As state-mandated COVID-19 restrictions and limitations recede in the rearview mirror, Atlantic City’s nine gambling dens are heading into summer 2021 with an optimism borne on the wings of just-released first-quarter revenue numbers that likely exceeded most people’s expectations and this weekend’s debut of open-air bars, which definitely helps send an all-important “business-as-usual” message.

The al fresco lounges have been popular warm-weather attractions for more than a decade (it took a while for the city to greenlight booze-on-the-beach operations. But their reemergence after such uncertainty – it was just a few months ago that the pandemic was still burning through America, and the idea that a “normal” summer was imminent seemed a longshot – can’t help but buoy the spirits of those employed by the casinos and everyone else whose livelihoods depend on the local gaming industry firing on all cylinders.

Here’s a look at the outdoor nightclubs:

*Bally’s Atlantic City

If nothing else, the opening of Bally’s Beach Bar should make the most noise as a ribbon cutting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday. The ceremony isn’t just about hanging the “Open” sign on the oceanside saloon; it also marks the debut of sorts of the property’s new owner, the recently christened Bally’s Corp. of Rhode Island.

The operation is expected to follow the basic beach-bar format: Casual dining; a focus on “umbrella” drinks and tunes provided by both live music and DJs. And let’s not forget a cadre of bikini-clad waitresses!

*Golden Nugget Atlantic City

The granddaddy of all outdoor casino playpens is The Nugget’s Deck Bayfront Bar & Restaurant. It’s located between the casino-hotel and the picturesque Frank S. Farley Marina, which provides a fabulous backdrop for the many cover bands that perform there. Also in the cards is the July return of Fakefest, the annual convocation of top rock & roll tribute bands.

*Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

The pop-music-themed complex is upping its outdoor game in a big way this summer following a major beach-replenishment project by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The upgrades include 1,000 new chairs and new cabanas. A full array of munchies and adult beverages are available.

The Rock is also offering other fresh-air amenities including the Balcony Bar, which overlooks the Boardwalk, and for hotel guests, there’s the Beach Picnic Box prepared by the culinary staff. It features a champagne split, marinated Italian olives, herbed boursin cheese, French ficelle bread, prosciutto and dry salami, grain mustard and mayo, cornichons (pickled cucumbers), kettle chips and lemon cookies.

*Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City

Last summer, the pandemic caused the gaming hall to set up a temporary facility on its historically underutilized promenade overlooking Absecon Bay. The public response was strong enough to inspire a full-blown 2021 encore.

The Baywalk at Harrah’s Resort features live music and what is described as a bill of fare that includes selections from the recently opened Rum Point Crab House’s raw bar, as well as games and interactive activities to go along with some of the best bay views in the city.

Raising the steaks at Resorts

Atlantic City’s newest high-end beefeteria is open for business.

Dougherty’s Steakhouse and Raw Bar, which replaced Gallagher’s Steak House inside Resorts Casino Hotel, is the latest concept from the city’s legendary Dougherty family, the clan that has been feeding townies and tourists alike since 1897 (at Dock’s Oyster House, which remains a revered local landmark).

While the joint will feature a selection of seafood that is the family’s signature, the Steakhouse’s raison d’etre is from the “turf” side of “surf & turf:” Filet mignon, New York strip, porterhouse and other select cuts of beef are in the spotlight, as are such dishes as veal Milanese, lamb chops and prime rib.

“Resorts Casino Hotel is delighted to be in this partnership with the Dougherty family, and to celebrate the opening of Dougherty’s Steakhouse and Raw Bar,” said Resorts President and CEO Mark Giannantonio.

“As two historic Atlantic City staples with decades of fine dining experience come together, we are excited to offer our guests a new dining concept that includes an enticing menu and energizing live entertainment. Dougherty’s Steakhouse and Raw Bar is a perfect complement to our other award-winning fine dining offerings.”

Look for the less-formal Raw Bar, located opposite the Steakhouse on Resorts’ dining level, to start welcoming guests next month.

Bombs bursting in air

Tropicana Atlantic City is again sponsoring a series of summertime fireworks displays. The pyrotechnics can be viewed from the Boardwalk or beach in front of the Trop every Saturday (except July 3) at 10 p.m. beginning this weekend and running through Sept. 4.

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