After months of speculation as to what it would look, sound and taste like, developer Bart Blatstein's The Playground at Atlantic City's Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino opened its first floor, T Street, on Thursday for a private party filled with Jersey politicos, Philly industry and media VIPs, and more.
Don't worry, folks, the Playground gets its public debut today, Friday, June 26.
"Welcome to the Playground," Blatstein, the Tower Investments CEO, said during Thursday evening's early reveal. "I'm so proud of this project. Atlantic City is like home to me. I hope this is part of its rebirth."
After that pleasantry, guests were welcomed to walk the length of what Blatstein titled "T Street," a block-long boulevard of loud live music clubs (piano bars, country music joints, rock saloons) meant to look like a cross between the music rows of Austin, Nashville and New Orleans; all with acts particular to the theme of each room.
While renowned Philly guitarist Mike "Slo Mo" Brenner did his thing outside the Prohibition-themed 1921 and pianists Tony T. (Anthony DeCarolis) & Wildman Joe (Joe Marchetti) did their dueling pianos routine inside Bo's, Grisbie played grungy Southern-styled rawk inside Tag.
At the end of T Street, Brother Josephus played a surprise set, a show they'll repeat on Friday for the Playground's public opening.
Each room was stuffed with tchotchkes, memorabilia and furnishings that Blatstein and architect Paul Steelman (his Playground project partner) purchased from the now-closed Riviera Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
With Garces' chef Adam DeLosso on board, guests sampled bite-sized burgers and slices of Mexican pizza with shrimp Pasilla Chile Sauce, Chihuahua Cheese.
Though it wasn't served last night, I asked DeLosso to prepare what I heard was T Street's culinary specialty: the Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich on a Potato Roll, with a spicy Cayenne glaze. Good stuff, and tangy, too.
"I think Bart's got another winner here," said local weather honcho John Bolaris, sitting at the Monkey Bar while the hubbub bubbed around us. "He's a good guy."
A good guy with a $50 million-plus investment, one that could very well pay off if Thursday night's excitement was any indication.