Itching to welcome customers back after three months of being closed during the coronavirus outbreak, some Atlantic City casinos are offering outdoor dining, even as the casinos themselves remain off-limits.
The Golden Nugget will open its outdoor deck on Friday for food and drinks, but will not offer gambling on it. Earlier this week, the Landshark Bar & Grill at Resorts reopened for outdoor dining.
Both are taking advantage of a recent easing of virus restrictions by Gov. Phil Murphy, who allowed restaurants to serve patrons outdoors as of Monday.
“It's an outdoor environment, you can eat, sip a drink, and enjoy the view,” said Tom Pohlman, general manager of the Golden Nugget.
The casino also operates a state marina next door, and has been looking to engage boat owners.
“We have 600-plus boats with people sitting around with nothing to do,” he said. “This gives them an option.”
Mark Giannantonio, president of Resorts, said business has been good since the Landshark reopened. Resorts officials also hope to open its beach bar this weekend.
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No reopening date has yet been set for Atlantic City's nine casinos, even as casinos in numerous other states have resumed operating. New Jersey has the second-highest number of virus cases in the nation, and the Atlantic City casinos draw heavily from New York, which has the highest number.
The Golden Nugget began offering outdoor gambling on its deck in 2012. It, and all the other Atlantic City casinos, cannot resume offering in-person gambling until the state allows it.
Other casinos have outdoor restaurants and bars, but are choosing not to reopen them before the entire casino can reopen, including Borgata's outdoor beer garden, and a beach bar at Hard Rock.
Last Friday, Atlantic City began a temporary experiment with allowing people to consume alcoholic beverages on the Boardwalk and on certain side streets near the walkway during the pandemic. A bill that would make that approval permanent is working its way through the New Jersey Legislature. It was approved 78-0 by the Assembly on Thursday and now heads to the Senate.
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