Terry LeMiere, director of sales for One Atlantic - Atlantic City's latest non-gaming venue - wants a piece of the wedding action.
And the corporate parties, bar mitzvahs, charity galas and other high-end social functions. The company began construction this month on a 10,000-square-foot facility with a 2,500- square-foot terrace jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.
One Atlantic is on the fourth level of the Pier at Caesars, a $200 million shopping and entertainment complex on the Boardwalk, formerly the Ocean Pier. Atlantic One's $10 million-$12 million venue is being developed by the Icon Group of New York and is scheduled to open this summer.
To LeMiere, it's all about capitalizing on what brought people to the Shore in the first place, before gambling.
Question: What convinced you that there was a market for this kind of venue?
Answer: People who were born and raised in this area love to come to Atlantic City. But they don't necessarily want to be in a casino-related venue when they're doing a wedding or some kind of a milestone event. Even corporately, some people don't want to be tied down to a hotel banquet room that looks that style. They wanted something different.
Q: Who is your clientele?
A: Weddings, any age group. Corporate people coming in from out of town who may want to host a big convention at the Atlantic City Convention Center and have an off-site dinner or cocktail reception. Local corporate companies that have been to the hotels and casinos and are looking for something different for their holiday parties, sales seminars or awards dinners. And milestone events, like bar mitzvahs (and) the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Q: How many people can One Atlantic accommodate?
A: We're talking about 500 people for a sit-down dinner and 1,000 people for a cocktail reception. We can do as few as 50 people.
Q: Is One Atlantic part of Atlantic City's evolution to offer more than just slot machines and table games, on the model of Las Vegas?
A: I think the city has taken the lead from Las Vegas, and over the years Las Vegas has become much more familiy-oriented. We have a lot of people who have businesses here that grew up here. They spent summers here with their parents and grandparents. They have summer homes here. They want to come back here and have their wedding. They just want to find that perfect location.
Q: Will you need to sell the space, or is it selling itself?
A: Lately, it's been selling itself. We get 6-10 calls a day or e-mails a day, primarily wedding-related. We've already booked four weddings. We have three that are tentative and ready to book. We are confident we will be ready to go by the first wedding in August.
Q: Is One Atlantic coming at a fortuitous time for Atlantic City, given gambling revenue is off by more than 6 percent this year compared to 2007, and that the town desperately needs a new non-gaming revenue source?
A: Absolutely. Yes, the economy is bad, but let's be honest - people will continue to get married. They'll continue to have anniversaries. Corporately, they may pull back a little bit, but I do believe that it will come around.
Q: Targeted revenue for 2009?
A: Pre-opening we're hoping to book $5 million. During the first year, $7.5 million.
Q: Casinos have been in Atlantic City since 1978. Why has it taken this long to have the town's first non-gaming venue?
A: I think that Atlantic City in general, and most cities of this type, change is hard for them. Remember, they went through the growth spurt of casinos. They're just now starting to consider other buildings, even living residences, that are non-casino-related. We have more families coming in. We really need to produce and develop more areas for them to host events, to do events, and still keep them in Atlantic City.
Q: What do you have over Las Vegas?
A: We're right over the ocean. I'm pretty sure Vegas is still in the desert. And you have this incredible view. No matter where you go in this facility, even in our restrooms, you will have a full ocean view.
Age: 55, born in South Philadelphia
Occupation: Director of sales, One Atlantic. Previously director of catering sales at Aramark Corp.
Hometown: Atlantic City
Education: Bachelor's degree in marketing, Drexel University; also a certified meeting planner.
Personal: Husband, Gregg, 63; children, Dana, 32, Eric, 22, and stepchildren Scott, Matt and Jason.
Secret ambition: "If I tell you, they wouldn't be secret any longer."
Sage advice: "Listen to your heart, your inner voice. Laugh as much as you can, relax and enjoy the ride!"
Last book read: Your Best Life Now, by Joel Osteen
Management Style: "I lead by example. Mentoring is a big part of my management style. EndText