A Time for Wine has found a market for some finer kinds of indulgence in Atlantic City casinos.
To the expected offerings of wines and craft beers, the stores add an exceptional selection of 500 cigars, 1,000 bottles of champagne, rarities such as $3,000 Louis XIII 100-year-old cognac and giftware to enhance these various delights.
The store in Resorts Casino Hotel that opened earlier this year is the third for two local couples - Chris Tortu and Janet Markowitz, of Margate, and Dino and Vjollca Redzepi, of Egg Harbor Township. Ownership of the three is apportioned among the four to comply with New Jersey's liquor license laws.
Tortu, 63, said opportunity to start A Time for Wine came when smoking was severely restricted in the city's casino hotels.
"When the casinos went nonsmoking, a wine and cigar store in The Quarter at Tropicana went out of business," he said. "When they later reinstituted limited smoking, it became a viable product again."
Tortu said he asked about the empty store, and management of The Quarter was interested in having another wine and cigar retailer there.
"The Quarter and other casinos want to offer as many amenities to their guests as possible," he said. "They constantly ask, what else can we do to make guests happy, to provide a service and be different? I think we've fulfilled that."
A Time for Wine stores are themed to fit their surroundings, so the first at The Quarter emphasized cigars to go with the Cuban nightlife atmosphere.
"We probably have more cigars than anyone," Tortu said. "We're distributors of cigars as well," through Atlantic City Cigar Co.
He said many on staff are so trained and knowledgeable about cigars that "they are tobacconists at this point."
The second and biggest store at 1,800 square feet, which opened in Caesars Atlantic City, can display more products and particularly accents the luxury ones.
"You can spend half an hour just looking around at the unusual items related to wine and cigars," he said.
For example, you can get a $2 lighter for your cigar, but there's also a $1,000 S.T. Dupont lighter.
A Time for Wine at Caesars also sells tables and chairs made from Napa Valley wine barrel wood, and popular wine racks in shapes from musical instruments to pets.
The Resorts store, which is adjacent to the Margaritaville restaurant and bar, has a colorful Key West theme, he said. The smaller store still boasts 2,000 bottles of wine, more than 100 craft and premium beers, and 300 kinds of cigars.
Tortu said wine and beer selections at A Time for Wine stores aren't priced higher because of their locations at the center of the tourist destination.
"We're not charging more than you'd pay outside of a casino," he said.
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