Amid all the buzz about jobs coming back to Atlantic City with the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, one businessman who visited the site recently said Resorts’ restaurants could be the big winner this summer.
Resorts’ steak house Gallagher’s and its neighboring burger bar could see a boost when Hard Rock opens because that property does not have enough restaurant space, according to the owner of Gallagher’s.
Michael Weinstein, chief executive of Ark Restaurants, said he toured the new Hard Rock property recently. “They don’t really have enough capacity for food and beverage,” he said, speaking to investors and analysts on a quarterly results call last week.
“The Resorts property is probably going to benefit from the new Hard Rock property,” Weinstein said. Resorts and Hard Rock casino are separated only by Pennsylvania Avenue.
“When old Taj was open, we used to benefit from the fact that they were under-restaurant-ed at the old Taj,” Weinstein added. “So hopefully, the Resorts property will benefit from the opening of the Hard Rock.”
The company behind Hard Rock, Boardwalk 1000, has filed planning applications with the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority for a gas station and new signage, but there have been no plans or announcements made about new restaurant space. The website for the property says, “The casino will boast a rock-chic interior, and enviable food and beverage, with fine-dining steak and seafood concepts as well as casual eateries.” The owners – who include local developers Joseph Jingoli and Jack Morris and their families – have said they will reopen the Hard Rock cafe (after laying off its staff last year). Separately, White House Sub Shop, which operated a small unit inside the former Taj Mahal, has also said it will reopen in the new property.
Ark Restaurants ($ARKR) owns and operates Gallagher’s Steak House and Gallagher’s Burger Bar, as well as a burger bar in Tropicana. Weinstein said those properties perform well for the company, but in general Atlantic City is “struggling”. “Casinos are down to, I think, seven operating casinos. With Hard Rock, it will be eight. But again, you have Philadelphia building a new casino. And that might impact all of Atlantic City,” he said.
The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is being redeveloped with the support of a $400 million loan from Hard Rock’s parent, Seminole Gaming. The property will open this summer. The former Revel is also set to reopen this summer as Ocean Resort Casino.
Resorts and Hard Rock officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Weinstein’s remarks.