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Atlantic City Regains Playground Reputation

28 September 2005

ATLANTIC CITY – (PRESS RELEASE) -- Any comparison between Atlantic City and Las Vegas would have seemed laughable only a few years ago.

There's no denying that the neon desert kingdom conjured from cactus and gopher holes back in the 1940s by gangster Bugsy Segal is an international gaming, nightlife and entertainment destination to rival any in the world. Meanwhile, Atlantic City, despite its legalization of gaming in the 1970s in an attempt to regain its former glory, lagged behind its younger sibling resort to the West with its largely day-tripping gaming visitors skewed heavily toward an older demographic.

But that was before the Borgata Hotel Casino opened on the Boardwalk in 2003, its 2,002 rooms, constructed at a cost of $1 billion, bringing Las Vegas-style luxury and amenities to Atlantic City on the scale of a Bellagio or a Venetian. This contrasting assessment also predates the arrival of The Quarter at the Tropicana in late 2004, a $200 million, non-gaming attraction bringing a bevy of new restaurants, bars, clubs and spas into the retail mix and new and big-spending gaming and non-gaming feet to the Boardwalk.

Suddenly, the signs of a comeback for America's Playground resort seem everywhere apparent in the young, good-looking, Vegas-like crowds that frequent its nightclubs, restaurants, spas, and yes, even its casinos.

To Thom Greco, president of the National Bar & Restaurant Association and a veteran restaurant and club owner, the Atlantic City rebirth is just as evident in the arrival of the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show (Oct. 10-12) (nightclub.com) at the Trump Taj Mahal convention center, returning to Atlantic City after a more than 20-year hiatus.

With parties carrying price tags fit for Rock star bashes, sophisticated workshops and seminars on virtually every facet of modern, millennial nightlife and an exhibit hall with all the latest in products and services, the new national beverage and food show is more than just a three-day, three- night convention boom for the hotels, restaurants and clubs of Atlantic City. To Greco, a founding member of the advisory board of Oxford Publishing Inc., producer of the annual Vegas gathering that boasts tens of thousands of attendees and more than 2,000 exhibitors, this Atlantic City version of the Nightclub & Bar Show is a chance to grow the industry on the East Coast as well as introduce Atlantic City to a new, trendsetter audience of hospitality movers and shakers, as well as major players of the beer, wine and spirits world.

"Through Nightclub and Bar, the industry has embraced Atlantic City as the East Coast city to host the hospitality industry's counterpart to the successful March Las Vegas event," says Greco, whose portfolio includes the opening of one of the nation's first dance clubs for under 21, the Vox Box in Wilkes Barre, Pa. "Atlantic City is turning into the East Coast Las Vegas with the recent nightclub and restaurant explosion. The Atlantic City of today bears little resemblance to the Atlantic City of your grandfather's day."

With hotels, several restaurants and more than nine nightclubs to his development credit, Greco will not only be attending the premiere Atlantic City Nightclub & Bar Show this fall, he'll be hosting scheduled events and presiding over at least one educational seminar as well as a roundtable discussion in the course of the jam-packed three days of business and fun that includes a keynote address by restaurateur Phil Romano and a "Rock the Casbah" after-hours party hosted by Sidney Frank Imports, among many other activities.

"Little by little, nightlife is pumping the vitality back into Atlantic City," Greco says. "The casinos have embraced the beach as an asset with the recent addition of the beach bars. Atlantic City is fast becoming a destination for the jet set with overnight stays that rival Las Vegas. The recent addition of The Quarter at the Tropicana Casino and the planned indoor high-end mall on the pier in front of the Caesars Casino will add other reasons for extended stays and destination visits to Atlantic City."

"My, how times have changed," says Dr. Ed Meek, CEO of Oxford Publishing Inc. "Nearly 20 years ago, we held a Nightclub & Bar Show in Atlantic City, and it was our only failure in two decades. Now we see an exciting new Atlantic City and an opportunity to develop a strong East Coast show to serve this corridor's vast beverage and food venues. Our exhibit hall is already a sellout, and our attendee pre-registration has surpassed even our most optimistic expectations."

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