Lots of important people are trying hard to help Atlantic City these days.
Gov. Chris Christie is fully invested - with both financial and political capital - in seeing Atlantic City succeed.
The Casino Reinvestment Development Authority and the Atlantic City Alliance are hard at work improving and marketing the resort.
Casino executives are doing everything they can to bounce back from a revenue slump, including opening more big-name restaurants.
And that all adds up to lots of folks in lots of suits doing everything they can to attract more visitors to the resort.
But who knew that Atlantic City's best hope might very well be a charmingly scrubby, bearded guy in a T-shirt named Mike Hauke and a sub-and-pizza joint named Tony Boloney's in the not-so-charmingly-scrubby South Inlet?
Hauke, the creator and owner of Tony Boloney's, recently won the $20,000 grand prize in the Truckin' Amazing Cook Off sponsored by the "Live with Kelly and Michael" television show.
In addition to Tony Boloney's, Hauke operates the Mustache Mobile food truck, and after making 40 of his signature Mustache Mobile cheesesteaks for the studio audience and the three judges, Hauke walked away with the top honor - and put Atlantic City in the spotlight on national television.
The $20,000 prize comes at a good time for Hauke, whose business a block from the ocean is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy - and it comes at a good time for Atlantic City, which needs all the positive, fun publicity it can get.
Back in Atlantic City's early years, when the saying was that the resort was built on "ocean and promotion," the town was full of P.T. Barnum-like showmen who knew how to give people a good time and make a buck or two while doing it.
Hauke understands that kind of old-fashioned showmanship. He doesn't do focus groups. He doesn't rely on stuffy academic studies that purport to reveal what the Atlantic City "market" needs. He goes with his gut (literally and figuratively), an unusual appreciation of fun and an unusual palate. (A Tony Boloney's special this week: A "Thai Street Sub" with chicken or tofu, rice noodles, scallions, Thai sauce, sesame seeds and cilantro.)
Hauke has also won Guy Fieri's Cheesesteak Battle on The Food Network and sponsors Pizza Slaughterfest in May, which he calls the world's largest pizza-eating competition. He does it all out of his decidedly modest restaurant and with the Mustache Mobile food truck.
Atlantic City certainly needs the big important stuff done by the CRDA, the Atlantic City Alliance and other agencies and business groups. But it also needs more individuals like Hauke. And at the moment, a guy running a fun and now nationally renowned pizza-and-sub joint in the South Inlet is one of the best things Atlantic City has going for it.