New food and entertainment hub developing in Atlantic City

Soon the holes on the walls will be patched, the floor will be finished and the space on Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City will be turned into Rhythm & Spirits, a cocktail and pizza bar with live music – opening just in time for the summer.

“In the back corner, a beautiful bar will appear here with a white cascading stone counter top and a massive whiskey collection,” said Lee Sanchez, owner of STW Hospitality.

It will also be the first full summer season for Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, Hayday Coffee and the New Orleans restaurant Bourré, all located in what city officials are calling the Orange Loop.

“I kind of came up with this, we’ll build it and hopefully people will come, and it’s been going great so far. So we’re not exactly sure what the summer’s going to bring, but if it’s anything like what we’ve had so far, it’s going to be a packed summer,” said Alpha Funding Solutions CEO Mark Callazzo.

Real estate developer Pat Fasano helped jumpstart the Asbury Park comeback 20 years ago. He sees even more potential in Atlantic City, and that’s why he bought a block in the Orange Loop.

“Asbury Park has very limited parking. Atlantic City has an abundance of parking. The beaches in Atlantic City are free and the bars never close. So for me, what a perfect storm,” Fasano said.

Fasano says by this summer, he hopes to at least have a parking lot, a beach volleyball court and a dog park completed. They’re also trying to start seasonal concession stands.

“I think realistically by next summer, you won’t recognize that block,” Fasano said.

This week at the annual Jersey Shorecast panel at Stockton University, moderator and casino industry expert Rummy Pandit said the industry is expected to build on a successful 2018.

“The revenue numbers are up for all the gaming properties, average rates are up significantly for lodging business, gaming revenue was up significantly in 2018 and we anticipate it’s going to continue to grow,” Pandit said.

“There’s a lot of good tail winds behind the national economy, which I think is going to support the very strong shore season in 2019,” said Oliver Cooke, associate professor of economics at Stockton University.

“Being a resort, a lot of it’s weather-driven, but we have seen really good demand initially and we see strong pricing power for room rates and ancillary spending, so they’re all good trends. And so now, really it’s forward looking into the fall because everything we do is really forward looking, and that’s where the key to the year will be,” said Mike Tidwell of Seaview Hotel.

Gov. Phil Murphy said the state’s tourism industry generated $45 billion in economic activity last year, with a record breaking 111 million visitors. He said he hopes to top those numbers in 2019. The goal? 150 million visitors.

The people behind the Orange Loop say they’re poised to play a big role in reaching that goal.

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