Is the Hard Rock coming? That is a question being asked by many people in our area.
On Monday, I had a one-hour interview with Jim Allen, chief executive officer of Hard Rock International’s casinos and restaurants. Allen began his career as a sous chef in a local restaurant before being hired by Bally’s Atlantic City.
His journey up the ladder took him to several properties in Atlantic City. At each one, he was elevated to the next step of the ladder. He also spent some time with one of the nation’s greatest developers before going back to Atlantic City and joining Resorts Casino Hotel, which was then operated by Sol Kerzner.
Kerzner sold Resorts and bought the Atlantis in the Bahamas. He brought Allen along with him to help him develop what has become one of the finest attractions in the world.
A headhunter told him that the Seminole Indian Tribe was looking for a chief executive officer that could build casino-hotels for them. Allen took the job and oversaw the construction and completion of two casino-hotels in Florida, one in Hollywood and one in Tampa. They were built at the same time, both on time and under budget.
The CEO told the Seminole Tribe they should buy the Hard Rock brand name since they were already paying a great deal of money for its use. The Seminoles agreed and the deal was consummated, which led to the development of Hard Rock casinos and restaurants around the world.
According to the experts, the Hard Rock brand name is the most widely recognized brand name in the world. It is interesting to note that with all of the top-name steakhouses in this country, the Steinbrenner family — owners of the New York Yankees — selected the Hard Rock Steakhouse for their new stadium.
This background is to let you know the quality of the individual who is now considering returning to his home area. Allen has a home in Linwood, attended Mainland Regional High School and learned the casino and restaurant business in Atlantic City. There is little doubt in my mind that he would like to develop a Hard Rock casino-hotel in his home area.
However, Allen is the type of person who makes sure every aspect of his prospective development is in place before he will publicly announce his intention.
It has appeared in this column that he put out requests for proposals from those who would be a part of his team to develop his project. In my interview, he announced that within the next couple of weeks he will be selecting the firms that will make up the team.
However, he made note of the fact that there are still other things to be done before any announcement, such as getting everything in place for a presentation to overseers of the Coastal Area Facility Review Act.
When queried about the amenities he would bring to his “proposed” Atlantic City property, Allen said he would bring in an array of outstanding restaurants as well as a variety of talent that already performs in the Florida Hard Rock casinos.
Last week, the Hollywood location had Frank Sinatra Jr., Lynyrd Skynyrd, Julio Iglesias and Kid Rock within a five-day span. By the way, Hard Rock’s senior vice president of entertainment is Bernie Dillon, another local resident that Allen brought with him to Florida.
When our conversation was completed, I had the impression that Allen would love to have a Hard Rock in Atlantic City. However, there was no commitment on his part to doing so. But, if all goes as I believe it will, the answer to my question is yes.
3 South Benson Band
Outside of Linwood and some of our local communities, few people have heard of the 3 South Benson Band. The band consists of three young men: Michael Gordon, 14, an eighth-grader at Belhaven Middle School, and Tom Robbins, 15, and Jake Blomberg, 14, a sophomore and freshman at Mainland Regional High School.
Why am I writing about them? Last Friday night, when I walked out to Hard Rock’s Paradise Live area, I was taken by the wonderful sounds emanating from the bandstand. I looked and saw three young boys creating this music that had the crowd swinging and swaying.
As I walked closer to the stage, I was approached by a gentleman who said, “You are Pinky.” After hearing me confirm who I was, he said this band is from Linwood and they were invited to perform here for two nights as guests of Jim Allen, who is a neighbor of one of the band members.
I listened to all three of their sets and was delighted with what I heard. I was more impressed with the easy manner in which these three young men conducted themselves during the time they were off the stage.
Their performance was so well received that Allen asked his highly regarded band that plays in the Oaks restaurant to come out and jam with the kids. And that they did. They had the crowd jumping with joy and the adult musicians could not get over the way the young people played with them in the jam session.
For those of you interested, you can check them out on their website: 3SouthBensonBand.com. South Benson is a street in Margate, and I do not know how or why they picked that name, but it is one many of you will get to know when you hear these excellent young musicians perform.
I am expressing my sincerest appreciation to them for two wonderful evenings of entertainment my wife and I enjoyed. By the way, there were 32 folks from Linwood who were there to see their first major performance.
Notes of interest
n Few of you know that one of our renowned attorneys, Paul Chan, ranks No. 2 in the United States in the 60-year-old category of squash players. This is the second year in a row Chan came in second. He said he would be working diligently to unseat the present No. 1 player. The Linwood resident also is an excellent tennis player.
n For too long a time it has been difficult for developers to get financing for their projects. It seems as though this is about to change. I just learned that the financial plan to provide the necessary funds for Kevin DeSanctis to finish construction of the Revel project had three times as many investors desiring to provide the funds as were necessary.
n You can still make reservations to attend the Restaurant Gala at Bally’s Atlantic City on March 31. All proceeds go to Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts students. Tickets may be obtained by calling the school at 609-463-4672. It is a wonderful event.
Pinky’s Corner appears every Thursday in The Press. The Pinky’s Corner radio show airs 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays on WOND 1400-AM. His TV show, “WMGM Presents Pinky,” airs 7:30 p.m. Saturdays on NBC TV40. E-mail Pinky at: email@example.com.