The 40/40 Club, an upscale sports bar, nightclub and restaurant in Atlantic City, has waved-in its last celebrity.
The $4 million, two-level facility co-owned by hip-hop superstar Jay-Z closed in October, said Cristin Bentz, assistant general manager for Tanger Outlets The Walk.
“Our leasing team is actively and diligently working to bring a great new tenant into the space. Stay tuned,” Bentz said.
Ron Berkowitz of Berk Communications in New York, the 40/40’s spokesman, said the club’s lease ended in October, the same month that Hurricane Sandy hit, causing tremendous water damage inside the club. The club has not been operational since then.
“There was a big hole in the roof as well,” Berkowitz said Wednesday. “With the end of the lease and with Sandy, we decided we had a great run, and it was time to move on.”
The 40/40, located at Mississippi and Atlantic avenues in front of Caesars Atlantic City, made a splash on the local nightclub scene when it opened in October 2005.
Among the people who helped christen the club were singer Beyonce, tennis player Serena Williams, actress Zoe Saldana, former pro basketball player Magic Johnson, former pro baseball player Barry Bonds and former pro football player Lawrence Taylor. Former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver and reality TV star Terrell Owens held his 32nd birthday party there in December 2005, which was attended by about 20 of his then-fellow Eagles football players.
Jeffrey Vasser, president of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, was among the local officials who attended the grand opening.
“Back in those days, it did a lot for the Atlantic City brand in the sense that here you have Jay-Z opening what was just his second 40/40 Club outside of New York, and it just said a lot about what he thought and what his company thought about Atlantic City and its future, so it was a great message to other brands that this was the place to be,” Vasser said.
At the time, Atlantic City was pushing its nightlife as it tried to branch out from being seen solely as a gambling destination, Vasser said.
“Between 40/40 and MIXX and mur.mur and on and on, it (Atlantic City) had something for everybody,” said Vasser, referring to the clubs at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. “It was certainly a good investment. He attracted big-name celebrities, and it put Atlantic City on the map. We were where pop culture came.”
Bob Levy was the mayor when the club held its one-year anniversary party in November 2006. He hung out with Beyonce while waiting for Jay-Z.
“It was something else besides gaming — a place young people could go and enjoy their evening dancing and enjoying a club-type atmosphere,” Levy said. “It’s a shame for the city to close any attractions. With the economy, the way things are, I can see this place closing.”
Jay-Z could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
After its first year, 40/40 hosted events such as after-parties for fights by boxer Arturo Gatti and appearances by DJs such as Funkmaster Flex, but in recent years, 40/40 faced increased competition from other nightclubs. The Pool at Harrah’s Resort and mur.mur at Borgata both opened in 2006, followed by Providence in The Quarter at Tropicana Casino and Resort and the original Boogie Nights at Resorts Casino Hotel in 2007, Dusk at Caesars Atlantic City in 2009 and HQ Nightclub at Revel last year.
Faheem Davis, known as DJ Fah D, did a residency at 40/40 in 2011. He said 40/40 was the only place a person could visit in Atlantic City and hear hip-hop all night on a Friday or Saturday on a weekly basis.
Davis, 36, of Atlantic City, said celebrities still showed up then. He saw Jay-Z, Beyonce, rapper Lil Wayne, and rapper and current “American Idol” judge Nicki Minaj during his one-year residency, but he said crowds decreased after a video was uploaded to YouTube showing several 40/40 security guards allegedly punching and kicking two patrons outside the club in 2009.
“When it first opened, it would be crowded every night. For the first four years, it was crowded every night,” Davis said. “They would do good parties on Friday and Saturday nights. Fridays might have been a little slow, but Saturdays always had a nice crowd in there.”
Standalone nightclubs have a tough time competing against casino nightclubs in Atlantic City, Davis said. The only one currently open is the LUXX Lounge inside the Diving Horse Entertainment Complex on South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The 40/40 was less convenient, as people had to wait in line outside to enter the club when it rained or when it was cold, Davis said. They also had to walk outdoors to get there if they didn’t drive or take a cab.
“It was the out-of-towners that would go to the 40/40 on a regular basis. It wasn’t the local people. It was very expensive,” said Davis, who added he was sorry to hear that the club closed.
In baseball, the 40/40 refers to players who hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in one season, which few players in the history of the game accomplished.
Even though it was billed as an upscale sports bar, Ron Garofalo, 56, owner of the Atlantic City Bar & Grill restaurant and sports bar at South Carolina and Pacific avenue, said 40/40 did not affect his business.
“People were getting dressed up to the gills to go in there. ... It was more of a club than anything else,” Garofalo said. “Maybe when it first opened, it was considered a sports bar, but as it went along, it was the 40/40 Club. People used to go there to dance and meet people, basically.”
At The Shore Editor Scott Cronick contributed to this report
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