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After a grueling year, South Jersey prepares to shine again in 2021
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After a grueling year, South Jersey prepares to shine again in 2021

“Got a feeling ’21 is gonna be a good year …” — The Who

If 2020 was the year of darkness, sadness and hopelessness, 2021 seems poised to be the comeback kid. After all, we’ve got a fresh set of months, and it’s hard not to think positive with the development and distribution of effective vaccines giving us a literal shot in the arm. If nothing else, it’s a shining sliver of light at the end of what has been a very long and dark tunnel.

It will likely take a bit of time, but as the year takes shape, things will slowly start to head back to the way they once were in South Jersey. Live events will return, people will gather, smiles will be visible. Complete strangers will splash together at waterparks, high five at plexiglass-less craps tables, sing their hearts out at concerts and bump into each other on purpose at crowded bars. And most importantly, a sense of joy will once again rear its gorgeous and well-rested head. It might not happen overnight, but it WILL happen.

So in the spirit of positivity, we asked folks in South Jersey what they were most looking forward to in 2021. We spoke to everyone from casino execs to restaurant owners, event organizers, musicians and local residents. In a year where so many Americans seemed so divided, what we found was that pretty much everyone is on the same page when it comes to seeing the glass half full this year. Hang tight, good things are coming.

Betting on ’21

“We are excited to welcome in 2021 and all of the future prospects that it brings. Borgata has always been at the forefront of new and innovative initiatives and we are excited to grow and advance the property in the coming year while keeping health and safety top-of-mind.” – Melonie Johnson, President and COO, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

“We look forward to the success of our brand new High Limit Slot Experience, The Cove, which just opened last week. We are also finalizing plans for other exciting casino floor enhancements in 2021, most of which will be in place by next summer and will include hundreds of the newest slot machines.” — Terry Glebocki, CEO, Ocean Casino Resort

In the Loop

“Atlantic City is going to be the new hot spot for live music. This city was built to be an outdoor playground,” says real estate developer Pat Fasano. “We have an abundance of outdoor space. We have enough empty parking lots to hold a festival. We have a 7-mile stretch of free beaches. And we have the only place in the state of New Jersey with 24-hour liquor licenses. Our outdoor stage at Bourre created a huge buzz in November when we hosted our first concert, and that’s only the beginning. Our plans to expand the outdoor container court and add new entertainment venues in The Orange Loop in 2021 will make this block the place to be in AC.” – Pat Fasano, real estate developer/owner Bourre Atlantic City

“I’m looking forward to adding a barbecue concept to Tennessee Avenue. It’s going to be called Chucktown BBQ, and it was inspired by my trip to Charleston, which is nicknamed ‘Chucktown.’ It will focus on the flavors of South Carolina barbecue with other regions sprinkled in as well.” – Charles Soreth, chef/partner, Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall.

“We are adding a traditional Italian-American pizzeria and kitchen called Cuzzies that will be known for pushing the boundaries. It will be open for lunch, dinner and late-night slices along with sandwiches and entrees. And by Valentine’s Day, Bar 32 Chocolate and Cocktails will be open where you can immerse yourself in the ultimate chocolate, cocktail and music experience with hand-crafted chocolate, desserts and cocktails made on site. But what I am most looking forward to in 2021 is trying to find a seat at a bar on the Orange Loop and having a Manhattan surrounded by people.” - Mark Callazzo, Local developer and restaurant owner

Taking a bite out of the New Year

“At first we were worried when we had to close our indoor dining, but we were pleasantly surprised to have had great success with our outdoor dining in 2020. Our customers really enjoyed our luxurious Garden of Eden patio that we expanded along Pacific Avenue. So we are excited to continue to offer our guests our expanded outdoor dining space in 2021, while hoping now that we have a vaccine we can soon reopen our restaurant fully indoors, as well.” - Gino Iovino, owner, Girasole Atlantic City

“We are really looking forward to new and exciting happenings at The Pier House in 2021. Guests have told us they miss social gathering and dining events, so we will be hosting tasting and pairing dinners every month, with the exception of the peak season months, beginning with our Rye Whiskey Dinner on Friday, Jan. 15. These events will be open to the public, as well as our guests. We are also eager to continue to expand on our outdoor dining success. Guests really enjoyed the outdoor bar and dining on our waterfront terrace and beautiful lawn space.” — Francesca Santoro, General Manager, La Mer Beachfront Resort, The Pier House, Cape May

How ’bout a hand for the band...

“In 2021 I’m looking forward to the return to normal in the music world. Dead Reckoning has many cool gigs lined up, beach concerts in Avalon, Ventnor, Wildwood Crest and Sea Bright as well as Bayfest in Somers Point. I am hopeful that together, we can put this pandemic in the rear view mirror and get back to seeing smiling faces in the crowd instead of masks.” - Charlie Wigo, vocalist/guitarist, The Dead Reckoning

“At first I really believed we were not going to play a single show after COVID hit our area in early March of last year. But we made use of outdoor venues and managed to turn lemons into electric lemonade! And though we managed to have a decent summer overall, I can’t wait to get back to rocking some of the spots in South Jersey that we were unable to play. 2021 looks brighter than ever and we are psyched to return to fun clubs like Kix McNutley’s in Sea Isle, as well as other favorite spots such as Harry’s Grille in Cape May and Laguna Grill and Rum Bar in Brigantine.” – Dave Turner, keyboard player, The E Street Shuffle

The main events

“We are optimistic that we will be able to bring back some of our big events this year, but it is very difficult to plan because it seems like we are way behind on vaccinations. That said, our usual time for Wing Wars – our most popular event — would be this month, so we will have to wait a year for that one. I don’t think we will do the Nightlife Awards – there wasn’t much to celebrate there in 2020 – but I do hope we can honor the Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2021, possibly do Burger Bash in the summer and bring back 50 Bites in the fall, when we should be in much better shape as a state and country. What I do know is that once things get better, events will be bigger than ever. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed or called asking what we are going to do this year. And while I don’t have definitive answers, I think whatever events do happen in 2021 will be huge!” — Scott Cronick, Director of Entertainment Publications, The Press of Atlantic City

“We were frozen in a holding pattern for the entire year of 2020, so we are looking forward to just getting back to work producing events. That being said, we are very reliant on the vaccines, so we don’t have any events officially on the schedule until June. And the big news is that The Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival is going to make a shift. We are moving the dates of the festival to June 4 and 5 and switching the festival location (for this year only) to Bader Field. This past year has proven that outdoor events can be done safely and we can use all 142 acres of Bader field to really stretch our legs. All of our events that were supposed to happen in 2020 will happen in 2021 in addition to some new stuff. We can’t wait.” — Jon Henderson, Producer and CEO, Good Time Tricycle Productions

A good year for the piers

“We heard from so many of our guests that said, despite the difficulties of last season, they still had a wonderful experience. So, we are looking forward to safely entertaining even more families this summer and are hopeful that we can bring back many of our beach, sporting, and family events that our guests have come to enjoy.” – Maggie Warner, Head of PR, Morey’s Piers in Wildwood

The locals are getting restless

It sounds crazy, but what I missed the most was the crowds! As much as we might moan and groan about the shoobies invading, it was strange to have this past summer seem so empty at the shore. Sure, there were still people coming for vacations, but the throngs that would be found at the big events like 4th of July Fireworks or any night on the Boardwalk just weren’t the same. This year I’m hoping I can’t find a spot on the sand! – Ronnie Vanchieri, retired teacher, Ventnor

I can’t wait to hug my family and friends. It’s going to be magical. – Iris Kelly, yoga instructor, Galloway

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