ATLANTIC CITY — Two restaurants in The Pier Shops at Caesars closed abruptly Monday, shocking employees who left work Sunday unaware they would be jobless on Labor Day.
Employees at sports bar Game On! and Trinity Irish Pub & Carvery said they were informed Monday morning that both restaurants were closed permanently. Customers found both establishments locked with no signs indicating why there were closed.
The two are owned by Boston-based Lyons Group, which also owned Sonsie, a restaurant at The Pier that closed last year. A spokesperson for the operators of The Pier and the Lyons Group could not be reached Monday.
“It’s a shock,” said 22-year-old Joe Macaluso, of Atlantic City, who worked as a server at Trinity Irish Pub for two years and said the restaurant was particularly busy Sunday night. “I feel bad for the other employees. We probably had at least 50 in both places.”
On Monday afternoon, other restaurants at The Pier — including Phillips Seafood, Continental, Buddakan, and Souzai Sushi & Sake — appeared to be doing brisk business at the Boardwalk shopping center that houses about 75 stores and restaurants.
But customers were confused when trying to enter Trinity Irish Pub, where the door was locked despite a painting on the door reading, “Open at noon.”
Philip Rispoli, who traveled from Florida to Atlantic City for an American Motorcyclist Association banquet, was with a group of friends looking for a place to eat when they stopped at Trinity on Monday afternoon and jiggled the door handle.
“I was surprised to see it closed this early in the day, with no sign or anything,” he said.
Julie Dandoff, of New York City, was carrying a $150 gift card to Game On! when she found a metal gate blocking the restaurant. She was stopping to catch some of the Yankees game over lunch.
“Every time we’re in Atlantic City, we like stopping by,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Meanwhile, future ownership of The Pier remains undetermined.
Earlier this year, Bank of America was granted court approval to foreclose on The Pier after mall owner Taubman Centers Inc. defaulted on the mortgage. An auction date may be set as soon as this week.
Despite this ongoing issue, employees at both restaurants did not see this coming.
Ryan Littley, an assistant general manager at Game On!, said he was preparing for the busy football season. But then, while off for Labor Day, he got a call from the manager set to open the restaurant.
“We got word at 11 a.m. we would be closed permanently,” said Littley, 34, of Egg Harbor Township.
There had been no signs, even up until he left work Sunday, he said.
“There was no reason to think we would be closing, especially going into football season,” Littley said, adding that he had turned down a job offer elsewhere in June.
“I genuinely loved my job and the people that I worked with, so I decided that, even though there may be better opportunities out there for me, I chose to stay with my team,” he said.
But he seemed to understand the other side as well.
“At the end of the day, business is business,” Littley said. “They had to make a decision that benefited them.”
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