ATLANTIC CITY — For years, the Mehfil Restaurant on Pacific Avenue was a popular Indian food spot for visitors to the neighboring Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort.

But the casino’s announcement it would close left manager Haider Raza worried about the restaurant’s future.

While more than 2,400 casino employees would lose jobs, the impact of a closing casino will be felt at small businesses too, including Raza’s restaurant.

“We'll just have to wait and see,” he said at the restaurant a block away from the Taj Mahal.

Another shuttered casino would be another hit to the region’s already fragile economy, said Richard Perniciaro, director of the Center for Regional and Business Research at Atlantic Cape Community College.

“Each of those jobs probably takes with it another half a job. That’s 3,000 to 4,000,” Perniciaro said. “Even in the summer our unemployment rate didn’t go down as far as it normally does. I think it’s going to add to the issues, add to the problems.”

A potential closing date was not stated except for “after Labor Day weekend.” Under state law, the notices have to be given to employees 60 days before the closure of the facility, meaning the earliest the property could close is October.

The company, owned by Carl Icahn, intends to send state-required mass layoff notices before the weekend, according to the statement from the casino.

The owners of the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort said the casino will close after Labor Day weekend, blaming striking Unite Here Local 54 workers for preventing a “path to profitability.”

A letter sent to Taj employees on Thursday attacked union President’s Bob McDevitt’s handling of the situation.

“McDevitt now spews out bombastic rhetoric demanding that Icahn Enterprises continue pumping tens of millions of dollars to cover losses at the Taj, although he knows full well that we made our best and final offer, which he himself negotiated and believed was acceptable,” according to the letter to employees. “Icahn Enterprises is a business with shareholders and legal duties to those shareholders. It is one thing to fund losses when a path to profitability exists; but, to burn tens of millions of dollars when there is no hope is just foolish.”

McDevitt said Icahn would rather “burn the Trump Taj Mahal down just so he can control the ashes. For a few million bucks he could have had labor peace and a content workforce, but instead he’d rather slam the door shut on these long-term workers just to punish them and attempt to break their strike.”

The Taj Mahal would be the city's fifth casino to close since 2014, costing more than 10,000 jobs.

“If it closes its going to have a huge impact on the city,” said City Council President Marty Small Sr. “The closure would eliminate gaming past Resorts. We are holding out hope that something can be to avert this.”

Back in the casino, workers at the Hard Rock Café are still unsure what the future holds for their jobs.

Mehfil has already felt the sting of the financial issues at the Taj Mahal.

In 2014 while Taj Mahal was about to close, the restaurant saw its business decline by 40 percent, Raza said.

“If we move, it will be to another state,” Raza said. “We're kind of done with New Jersey.”

Staff Writer Brian Ianieri contributed to this report.

Contact: 609-272-7046

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Staff Writer

Started working in newsrooms when I was 17 years old. Spent 15 years working for Gannett New Jersey before coming to The Press of Atlantic City in April 2015.

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