Hard Rock steakhouse has new nightlife wrinkle

Courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City

The calendar may still say winter, but things have definitely heated up on the nightlife landscape at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

A new concept was recently introduced at the casino’s Council Oak Steaks & Seafood: A disc jockey who, on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 p.m. to midnight, plays tracks to create an environment far different from that found at Lobby Bar, the casino’s main party pit.

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The extremely popular Lobby Bar’s environment is that of a raucous rave propelled by high-energy, groove-intensive party bands like Don’t Call Me Francis and the unit-fronted local lounge institution named for Dane Anthony. That, insists Hard Rock execs, is exactly what Council Oaks won’t offer.

“We’ll have a DJ who’ll bring his ‘old-school’ records and create a really cool vibe,” offered Peter Brattander, the Rock’s vice-president of food and beverage.

“We’re excited about the DJ because a good DJ can really feel the room, and we think after the concert, or after dinner, it’s a great place to stay and have a cocktail and sit at the bar and watch the people walking by.

“It’s the weekend; you’re excited to be there, excited to be in Atlantic City and that just kind of drives the vibe.”

According to Michael Woodside, the gaming hall’s vice-president of entertainment, the idea is that the Council Oak lounge is designed to be more sophisticated—grown-up, if you will—than Lobby Bar.

“I think the vibe at Council Oak is not going to be so much a ‘dancing vibe,’ but more, think Boz Scaggs and a craft cocktail,” said Woodside. “It’ll be a place with great background music you can bring a date to and have a great cocktail. It will have a great energy. It’s about the energy of the whole space—a beautiful lounge.”

Indeed, the room—which is definitely one of AyCee’s lesser-appreciated spaces, is a little gem. It’s separated from the property’s first-floor concourse by a sizeable rectangular bar. The opposite end of the room boasts a small, slightly elevated platform (more about that below). Between the bar and the stage are 10 tables and plenty of room for dancing, should the mood strike.

The overall goal is to give visitors-especially those who attend headliner performances–another post-show option in addition to heading to Lobby Bar, the casino, hotel room or home.

As for the stage, it had been used Thursdays through Sundays for a few weeks at the beginning of the year as a showcase for small musical groups. That format will remain, with live music being presented every Thursday and Sunday evening.

And if those who avail themselves of the Council Oak’s activities from Thursday through Sunday have an attack of the munchies, rest assured they won’t go hungry: The late-night bar menu features the Oak Burger (a cheeseburger with fries), steak frites, mussels Posillpo, fried shrimp, tuna tartar, calamari, Caesar salad and shrimp cocktail.

A ‘prime’ promotion at Rivers

It’s not unusual for casinos elsewhere to take marketing cues from Las Vegas. But at Rivers Philadelphia, they’re doing it via time travel.

Jack’s Bar & Grill, the casino’s casual-dining pub, features a daily $9.99 prime rib special starting at 4 p.m. that includes a baked potato and broccoli. The deal is open to anyone as long as they present a Rush Rewards players card, which is available to anyone over 21 with valid ID. Otherwise, the meal is $19.99.

According to the gaming hall’s general manager, it’s a nod to the way business used to be conducted in Sin City.

“I’ve been in the business for nearly 35 years now, so I’ve been around a lot. I worked in Vegas [for the Station casino organization] and that was definitely one of the things they did back there,” offered Eric Althaus, Rivers’ top gun. He added the idea “came from that typical old-school philosophy of marketing: To entice people to come in and have a good meal for a good price.”

According to Althaus, there was another motivation for the promotion. After opening several new food outlets in 2023, including the upscale Italian steakhouse, Martorano’s Prime, “We looked at Jack’s and we’re like, ‘Jack’s didn’t really get any love or attention.’ We continued to modify the menu, but we really looked for something special to get people into Jack’s.”

Incidentally, in case you’re wondering, the deal is a real winner: A recent visit found the sizable slab of beef perfectly cooked to order and not gamy tasting, as some discount cuts of meat can be.

While there is nothing on the books, Althaus suggested if the prime rib deal proves a boon to the gambling den, similar dining deals will be considered.

Tony Orlando’s swan song

The bad news is that Tony Orlando – an AyCee headliner for some four decades and one of the true “good guys” in show business – has announced his retirement. The good news is that the guy who topped the charts with his two co-stars in Dawn and produced 1970s’ hits like “Candida” and “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole’ Oak Tree,” isn’t calling it quits without one last visit to town.

Orlando, who turns 80 in April, will perform March 16 at Resorts Casino Hotel. It will be a “full-circle” moment of sorts: The first legal casino east of Nevada was where he made his local gaming hall debut in 1983.

For tickets, go to ticketmaster.com.

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