Even if Atlantic City Government Shuts Down Friday, Businesses Will Stay Open
ATLANTIC CITY — Even if City Hall has to close its doors come Friday and send all non-essential employees home, the hundreds of restaurants, retailers and other businesses in this resort city will open as usual. The business owners just hope the public understands that.
Since word of a potential government shutdown became public in March, local business owners and managers have been fighting against a public perception that the entire city would be closed until an agreement is made on how to solve the city's financial woes.
"We've had a few phone calls already, asking that when the city closes, whether we would be open, whether the casinos would be open," said Frank Pileggi, manager of Irish Pub on St. James Place. "And of course that answer is yes."
The city had announced a pending shutdown of its government, minus essential personnel, starting April 8. But local leaders and unions are working on a plan, up for a vote Wednesday, that would put employees on a 28-day payment schedule and temporarily delay the shutdown and keep the city operating as normal.
Addressing the perception issue at a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie said tourists can easily draw "a lot of the wrong conclusions" if they're not completely in tune with the current Atlantic City story line.
"A great time for Atlantic City to run out of money: Right before the summer season," he said.
A statement from Meet AC, released in March, assured convention planners and their attendees that "Atlantic City's casinos, resorts, hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, Boardwalk Hall and Atlantic City Convention Center will remain open and fully operational" in the event of a government shutdown.
The convention center is slated to host tens of thousands of people this weekend, starting Friday night, for the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival.
Jon Henderson, producer of the event, said email blasts and Facebook posts have notified ticket buyers and prospective ticket buyers that the festival will run as planned.
"Atlantic City is business as usual," he said. "People are staying, people are taking cabs, they're booking hotel rooms."