ATLANTIC CITY — It was calm Thursday afternoon at Bar Anticipation, which had just opened its doors for the first time. A few patrons of the city’s newest beach bar chatted idly at a table under overcast skies. Wait staff joked by the bar, and co-owner Thomas Jannarone worked out some final details on his laptop.
That peace will be shattered there and elsewhere today as tens of thousands of visitors descend on Atlantic City and the rest of the shore area for Memorial Day Weekend, the de facto start of the summer season.
At Bar Anticipation — Bar A for short — the party begins Friday with a performance by cover band Johnny Drama, which Jannarone calls an “audio and video experience,” while elsewhere the duo Bacardi Ardi and Billy Reybert will spin an eclectic mix of pop tunes. At midnight, the bands will vacate to make room for a dance floor, which is expected to be packed until the wee hours of the morning, weather permitting.
A sister bar to the nationally known club of the same name in Lake Como in Monmouth County, Bar A is replacing the Trump Plaza Beach Bar just off the Boardwalk opposite the hotel and casino. As it is up north, the bar’s selling point will be its eclectic mix of food, drink and entertainment, Jannarone said.
“We want there to be excitement at every turn,” he said. “It’s not about scheduling a band or a DJ or selling a drink. It’s about an experience. It’s about when people come in, having them say, ‘Oh, wow, look at that!’”
A block away, Backyard Bar at Caesars was gearing up for its first summer season under that moniker. Co-owner Kevin Friel who managed the bar when it was known as Boardwalk Beer Garden and purchased it with coworker Craig Slotkin for this season, said he’s eager for the busy season to begin.
“You look forward to this time of year all-year round, then when it comes, it’s a blur,” he said.
Friel said the bar has been doing brisk business since it opened in April, but should pick up to a steady average of about 1,000 people a day this weekend and continue at that rate through the summer.
Like the staff at Bar A, Friel and Slotkin were relaxing Thursday, taking it easy before business booms. But with Memorial Day Weekend looming, Friel said he can’t wait.
“(We) spend an inordinate amount of time looking at weather.com,” he said. “Right now, we’re looking at a great Memorial Day Weekend. We’re really happy about that.”
At Bar Anticipation, the famed Shot Wheel won’t be ready in time for the weekend but should arrive shortly after, Jannarone said. Bar A will also offer a 10,000 square foot 21-and-up section on the sand, which Jannarone said was a no-brainer use of the city’s greatest asset.
“The beach is one thing not even the other beach bars are doing,” he said. “On the sand. I don’t understand, you can’t have a beach bar without being on the beach.”
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