What’s opening next? This question applies to all three of Caesars Entertainment’s Atlantic City casinos. There are so many projects on the to-do list that something new is debuting every month.
The Chicken Guy, the fast-casual concept from celebrity chef Guy Fieri, opened last week at Harrah’s Resort. Earlier in August, celebrity chef Bobby Flay stopped by the Marina District property for a Bobby’s Burger ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Add Tropicana Atlantic City and the flagship Caesars AC are far from being ignored. John Koster, the regional president of Caesars Entertainment’s Eastern Division, is busy these days monitoring it all. When it’s all said and done, some 2,150 rooms and suites will receive upgrades. Some 16 dining/entertainment concepts are being introduced as well. And this doesn’t included casino floor makeovers at Caesars and the Trop.
During a recent visit to Harrah’s Resort, PlayNJ spoke with Koster about what’s happening around the Atlantic City empire.
Showing off Caesars Entertainment’s $400 million master plan
In April 2021, the parent company announced a $400-million master plan for the AC market. At the time, the specific details were very vague. However, remodeled room towers, gaming floor enhancements along with new restaurants and amenities were all part of the initial announcement.
And it included a 2023 target completion date.
The finished list already includes a revamped pool deck at Caesars AC. A new Starbucks (targeted for mid-November) outlet along with upgrades to the hotel lobby and valet parking entrance are still coming.
Hell’s Kitchen, Nobu opening real soon at Caesars
Out of all the new Atlantic City amenities Caesars Entertainment is unveiling this year, Hell’s Kitchen is definitely one of the most highly anticipated. Besides having the same name as the Fox reality TV show, it will be the third Atlantic City concept from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. Caesars AC also marks the East Coast debut of Hell’s Kitchen.
Caesars Entertainment sent out a press release recently announcing the restaurant is accepting reservations via Open Table starting Sept. 2. Grand opening is scheduled for mid-September.
By the way, the winner of “Hell’s Kitchen” season 21 will become executive chef. The season premiere is Sept. 29.
Koster also hinted at the addition of a new gaming pit “that may be themed after a certain restaurant.”
Nobu is penciled in for a mid-October opening. And as far as the Nobu hotel (located in the Centurion Tower) goes, Koster said the 83 should be completed by end of the year. And the new suites will likely follow in early 2023.
The Nero’s closing rumors are true
Earlier this summer, rumors started swirling that a popular Caesars AC restaurant would be closing around Labor Day weekend. The restaurant is of course Nero’s Italian Steakhouse. Besides being known offering delicious fine-dining, the space overlooks the Boardwalk and Atlantic Ocean. This also was a go-to place for a Sunday champagne brunch.
However, the rumors are true. Nero’s closed for good over Labor Day weekend. Hell’s Kitchen and Nobu are opening. Plus, Morton’s Steakhouse is located just off the valet entrance. Koster mentioned a yet-to-be-announced Italian cuisine concept planned for the Wild Wild West Casino space for 2023. Even with these highly-anticipated restaurants, some customers are not happy about the Nero’s news.
“I am getting some comments from our customers that they would like us to keep [Nero’s] open, but you can only have so many gourmet restaurants,” Koster said. “We will find something that will be appropriate for the old Nero’s space. Customers who are looking for that type of cuisine will find it.
“Caesars is going to be our luxury product.”
The new Italian restaurant will be part of Spiegelworld footprint (also coming to the Wild Wild West) that will be a new live year-round theater production. This is expected to debut next year.
What’s the latest on the Tropicana dining scene?
Earlier this year, Caesars Entertainment announced eight new dining/entertainment concepts penciled in for Tropicana.
Wild Honey Smokehouse and Tavern (think BBQ) and Ossu Japanese Tavern are open.
Next on the list is the Purple Zerba, a daiquiri bar moving into part of the former Seaside Cafe space. It opened Sept. 2. Hash House A Go Go, known for twisted farm food and crafted cocktails, is now open as well. This restaurant is located next to Purple Zebra, just off the Boardwalk.
“That right there is going to be tremendous,” Koster said of Purple Zebra and Hash House. “After that we will be working on the old Olon space. That is going to be the relocated Il Verde with a beautiful view of the Boardwalk and ocean.”
Il Verdi is of course the popular Italian gourmet restaurant. The move is targeted for “late fall.”
Once Il Verdi moves out, work can begin on Hawthorne & Cork. The space is described as an “intimate and refined new signature bar and lounge experience”
And as of now, Gin Rickey’s, the dueling piano bar, should be opening later this month in The Quarter.
Harrah’s Resort is ‘filling a niche’
Harrah’s is the property that generates a strong group business as a result of having the Waterfront Conference Center. Plus, there is The Pool, which doubles as a night club.
Now, the Waterfront Tower hotel guests can experience upgraded hotel rooms. However, addressing what to do with the former Waterfront Buffet space was important as well. Like at other casinos across the country, it never reopened following the pandemic shutdown.
Well, some of that space is now being occupied by Bobby’s Burgers. It marks Flay’s return to Atlantic City following the closing over Bobby Flay Steak over at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. More importantly, the opening addresses something the property was missing.
“This is perfect,” Koster said. “Bobby’s Burgers is going to fill a niche. We were missing this.”
The coming soon list still includes another Purple Zebra outlet (late October) and Jade Street, a quick service Asian food concept (coming soon).
By the way, even with Bobby’s Burgers now open, the casual AC Burger Company is staying put. Koster said the two spaces will not compete with one another.
“[AC Burger Company] has its following, no doubt about it. It’s a larger menu, not just burgers,” Koster said. “We have situations like this in Las Vegas as well where you’ve got a couple of burger options but the menus are different.”
What happens once Caesars Entertainment checklist is complete
Unveiling new hotel rooms, updating casino floors and opening new restaurants is a big part of Caesars Entertainment’s AC plans.
However, Koster points out there is another important step once all the work is complete. That would be “We’ve got yo make people aware of all this.”
“I think there are still some people that have a feeling some of what Caesars had wasn’t upgraded enough,” Koster said. “Well, now it is and we are going to be relaunching Caesars in Atlantic City.”
But will those former Caesars gamblers now playing at other AC casinos give the flagship property another try?
Well, they are certainly going to be welcomed back.
“We are going to do all kinds of things to reintroduce them to what Caesars has done in Atlantic City,” Koster said.
Images provided by Caesars Entertainment