Two New Shulson Restaurants Eye Summer Openings At Ocean Casino Atlantic City

Written By David Danzis on February 9, 2024

One of the worst-kept Atlantic City casino secrets has officially been revealed.

Local celebrity chef and restauranteur Micheal Shulson is opening two new dining concepts later this year at Ocean Casino Resort, according to a press release.

Pearl & Mary oyster bar and Samuel’s could be open by summer.

Ocean Casino ‘thrilled’ to add Shulson venues

Pearl & Mary will capitalize on its coastal location, showcasing fresh seafood and beach-inspired cocktails. The more casual Samuel’s features an American-Jewish-inspired menu with breads, pastries, salads and sandwiches.

Located on the 11th floor across from The Park, the new Ocean Casino AC additions will take over the space formerly occupied by Harper’s and Sky Cafe. Harper’s is moving down to the 6th floor and replacing Makai, which will be closing, according to the press release.

“We are thrilled to welcome Pearl & Mary and Samuel’s into Ocean’s portfolio of dining venues as we venture into a long-term partnership with Michael Schulson,” Bill Callahan, general manager of Ocean Casino Resort.

Shulson no stranger to Atlantic City casinos

Shulson is the CEO and founder of the Shulson Collective, a Philadelphia-based restaurant group that includes Alpen Rose, Double Knot, Harp & Crown and the original Pearl & Mary in the city’s Midtown Village.

In Atlantic City, Shulson is best known for Izakaya, his first-ever restaurant, which he opened inside the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 2008. Izakaya closed on Jan. 1.

When Izakaya’s closure was announced, Shulson said he looked “forward to creating dynamic concepts in the Atlantic City market in the near future.”

The internet can be awesome sometimes

Whispers of Shulson reappearing at another Atlantic City casino started shortly after that.

Internet sleuths quickly picked apart the possibilities based on available space and which property most fit Shulson’s culinary style. Some of the more observant AC social media commentators noted that Ocean employs several former Borgata employees — Callahan among them — and Shulson likely has existing professional relationships with some of them.

Ocean emerged as the most probable landing spot for a new Shulson creation.

The rumor mill kicked into high gear when folks remembered Serendipity 3 quietly closed at Ocean in the fall of 2023. Many people assumed that space would be home to Shulson’s restaurant before too long.

So, give the internet credit for getting the scoop half right.

Breadcrumbs from the chef about more AC plans

Here’s what Shulson had to say in Wednesday’s press release:

“Having opened my first restaurant in Atlantic City more than 15 years ago, it’s apropos to be returning to the shore to work with Ocean, starting with these two incredible projects. The team at this property is first class and I look forward to opening additional concepts with them in the future.”

Perhaps that’s another clue from the chef himself? Only time will tell.

Photo by Wayne Parry / AP Photo
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David Danzis

David Danzis is the lead writer for PlayNJ. He is a New Jersey native and honors graduate of Rutgers University. As a newspaper reporter for the New Jersey Herald and Press of Atlantic City, David earned statewide awards for his coverage of politics, government, education, sports, and business. Today, he is PlayNJ’s Atlantic City “insider” and gaming industry expert on casinos, sports betting, and online gambling. David lives in Atlantic County, NJ with his wife and two children.

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