ATLANTIC CITY - Landry's Inc. is not exactly a household name. But while most people may not be familiar with the corporation, there is a pretty good chance they have dined in a Landry's-owned restaurant chain or gambled in one of its Golden Nugget casinos in Nevada.
The Houston-based company, controlled by founder and chairman Tilman J. Fertitta, announced Monday that it is buying Trump Marina Hotel Casino for $38 million and will rebrand it into a Golden Nugget property.
Landry's already has a presence in Atlantic City at its Rainforest Cafe at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. Atlantic City's Rainforest Cafe is among more than 300 restaurant and retail locations the company owns nationwide.
Point at a map, and a Landry's property is probably close by. Its businesses can be found in 158 cities across the country and 18 locations internationally, making it one of the largest restaurant, hospitality and entertainment companies in the world.
The company's upscale restaurant groups include Vic and Anthony's Steakhouse, Grotto Italian Ristorante and Oceanaire Seafood Room. It also owns Landry's Seafood House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Charley's Crab, Willie G's Seafood & Steak House, Big Fish, Chart House and Saltgrass Steak House.
Landry's also operates several tourist attractions, including Downtown Aquarium complexes in Houston and Denver and the Kemah Boardwalk, a 50-acre, family-oriented entertainment venue in Kemah, Texas.
"What makes Landry's a special company, we're not only operators, we are developers. We can do it quickly and give the customer what they want," Fertitta said in an interview with The Press of Atlantic City.
Analysts predicted the company's diversity will mesh well with Atlantic City's efforts to reshape itself into a broader tourist destination of upscale restaurants, retail shops and nightclubs - in addition to casino gambling.
"I think that one of the things that makes Landry's a plus for the market is that they bring other assets. Having a DNA that is not necessarily gaming could be a good thing for Atlantic City," said Cory H. Morowitz, chairman of Morowitz Gaming Advisors LLC.
Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, said Landry's is "very adept at brand management."
"They know what their brands mean, they know how to leverage those brands," Pollock said. "By all accounts, they have a very good corporate culture and they came from being in the service industry."
Pollock added that Landry's experience in both the restaurant and casino sectors should be a big asset as the new owner of Trump Marina. The sale is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year, pending regulatory approval by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.
"There are strong similarities," Pollock said of the gaming and service industries. "Both are oriented toward making the customer come back, making them feel comfortable and making them enjoy the experience."
Last October, shareholders approved Fertitta's bid to take Landry's private in a deal valued at about $1.4 billion. The 52-year-old businessman made his mark in the casino world by rejuvenating the Las Vegas Golden Nugget into the premier casino in the downtown area. Landry's also owns the Golden Nugget casino hotel in Laughlin, Nev.
"Landry's has done a tremendous job of revitalizing that casino in a down market," Robert McDevitt, president of Atlantic City's Local 54 of UNITE-HERE labor union, said of the Las Vegas Golden Nugget.
Landry's plans to sink $150 million into Trump Marina - adding new restaurants, bars, lounges, a spa and other attractions - in a Golden Nugget-like renovation project to turn the aging property into a luxury resort.
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