ATLANTIC CITY — The developer behind a live music venue with a focus on cocktails and pizza — the latest addition to the strip of newcomer businesses on Tennessee Avenue — said his team is eyeing a summer opening.
The venue, Rhythm & Spirits, will join its neighbors — Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, MADE chocolate bar, Hayday coffee and Leadership Studio yoga — as the newest venture by developer Mark Callazzo, who also owns the Iron Room.
“This is just really the last project of our first phase of Tennessee Avenue,” Callazzo said.
Grant funds totaling $20,000 from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will cover half of the bill for an old-style marquee announcing upcoming performers and upgrades to MADE’s exterior. Callazzo will foot the bill for the rest.
Music, Callazzo believes, can play a big part in making the “Orange Loop” inviting to residents and visitors.
“We do have some music at the beer hall but it’s not really music-centric,” he said. “We have some solo and duo acts on Friday and Saturday so Rhythm & Spirits is gonna be more live entertainment-centric. We always wanted music to be part of what we were doing on Tennessee Avenue.”
Kip Russell, a friend of Callazzo’s and the general manager at the beer hall, thinks live music could be essential to reinventing the area.
“Music, for the most part, breeds life, brings life to a neighborhood, just like any other of the arts,” Russell said. “The art community is thriving in Atlantic City, so I think this goes hand-in-hand.”
Workers in the building Thursday tore down ceiling tiles above where a stage and bar will soon be, while an industrial space heater blared against the cold outside. They said the demolition stage would likely be finished this week, making way for inside renovation in the coming weeks.
The former vice president of food and beverage at Harrah’s, Lee Sanchez, is consulting.
The walls, he said, will have metallic, neon wallpaper and burnt Japanese cedar, and the venue will feature “mid-century modern” furniture.
The stage and the bar, which will have a focus on “mixology,” will be Rhythm & Spirits’ focal point, Sanchez said. Performances for High Tea — a Sunday daytime party — will include music from many genres, as well as comedy and drag shows.
“It’s meant to be an open party that welcomes the community as a whole,” Sanchez said.
Iron Room Head Chef Kevin Cronin will oversee the kitchen.
“It’s nice to bring some of the good parts of the Iron Room (to Tennessee Avenue),” Callazzo said.
And the management team is coming together, he said.
“We have most of it in place, just not ready to announce it yet,” Callazzo said. “But a lot of people — be it servers and bartenders, and management staff — have expressed interest in coming on board.”
Callazzo is keeping an exact opening date for Rhythm & Spirits, and plans for a second phase of development nearby, under wraps.
Some residents that live near the businesses have expressed skepticism about the redevelopment of the area, but Russell said customers are already taking notice.
“We’re getting great cross-sections of people,” Russell said. “And these are people … they’re bullish for Atlantic City. They love Atlantic City as much as we do.”