January 26, 2016

The Baltimore Grill and the Governor’s Delusions, in today’s Roundup

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Tony’s Baltimore Grill, the Atlantic City institution with the kitchen that’s open until 3 a.m. and the bar that’s been open non-stop since 1970, presumably, has filed for bankruptcy protection, the tireless Reuben Kramer of the Press of A.C. reports (with a hat-tip to Dan ‘Lightning’ McQuade of Philly Mag).

It’s important to stress the bar/restaurant is not closing, at least not anytime soon, but no one likes reading the words “bankruptcy” and “Baltimore Grill” in the same sentence, not at this time in our fair city’s history. Atlantic City without the Baltimore Grill is like the Louvre without the Mona Lisa or a chocolate cake without the chocolate. Or the cake. Or something. I’m sorry, I have the flu. You get the picture.

And before some bozo from Central Jersey who thinks subs are called hoagies chimes in to say the place was “overrated” to begin with, we should clarify that, as with all relationships of this duration, whatever qualities the Baltimore Grill’s food does or does not possess have been secondary to the knowledge that the place simply exists, and had been a part of peoples’ lives for so long. I haven’t lived full-time in South Jersey for 20 years, but each and every blessed time I got off the casino bus from New York City my first stop was the Baltimore Grill for a to-go order of spaghetti and meatballs, served in the characteristic white canister that looks like it was designed for some other, non-culinary, purpose.

I find those meatballs charming, but I’m happy to concede they’re not everyone’s idea of perfection. Ditto the pizza, which a high school friend of mine yesterday described as “the weirdest best pizza” available, to humanity (presumably).

Reuben reports the restaurant was hit with a $715,000 bill when it withdrew from a pension fund for union workers, and it quotes Local 54 President Bob McDevitt, who let’s face it has been a little disappointing recently, as saying, it (the Grill) got into a, “problem of…(its) own making.” He also quotes the Tarsitanos (the owners) saying they’ve been pro union but can’t afford it anymore.

The world, and South Jersey in particular, is a better place with the Baltimore Grill in it. Let’s hope they can work something out.

Governor McCrazyPants 
Chris Christie said yesterday morning on MSNBC there was “no residual damage…no flooding damage” in New Jersey owing to the weekend nor’easter, and he’s been getting hit over the head with those remarks by people who were up to their martinis in ice water all day Saturday, ever since. As he should be.

The governor seemed deranged at times as he tries to juggle his desire to campaign for votes in the New Hampshire primary against what seems like an existential crisis of leadership in his home state. For the infamous video of him berating a girl (“You want me to go down there with a mop?”) see here.

For all I know, Christie’s campaign could get a bump from this. The primary season’s so toxic maybe denying the existence of a natural disaster in your home state’s the kind of thing that will hit with core voters. The Howler predicts a photo-op with a mop if/when Christie gets back to N.J. He’s already pretending he was joking.

The Howler wonders what, if any, impact these events will have on the state’s plans to take over Atlantic City and possibly regionalize its police department and privatize its fire department. The governor had made a career out of slamming our first responders and their health and retirement benefits, but it was, inconveniently, public employees who spent the weekend pulling stranded people out of houses and battling fires in 70-mph winds while the governor publicly lost his marbles.

UPDATE: The governor has since apologized to the North Wildwood Mayor Patrick Rosenello, whom he’d called “crazy.”

For the millionaire perspective on the #actakeover, Bloomberg reports on the bond market’s reaction to the state’s recent moves. “Bizarre” and “confusing” are the adjectives allegedly used.

Related Update: City leaders met today to discuss bankruptcy and afterward Mayor Don Guardian, Senate Pres. Steve Sweeney and the Himself the Governor struck a conciliatory tone, calling the upcoming A.C. legislation a “partnership” rather than a takeover.

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