Atlantic City is always going through the throes of reinvention and attracts people from all different walks of life with its impressive waterfront, boardwalk, casinos, clubs and bars that provide an unforgettable time.
DO|AC is a vibrant part of this rejuvenation and making sure that this particular birth of Atlantic City sustains profitability and a positive reputation. The improvements have been dramatic and newly elected Mayor Don Guardian promises that "the best days are still ahead of us".
Mayor Guardian was instrumental in helping owner and operator Dino Dounoulis open up Bungalow Beach, the first non-casino related liquor license on the boardwalk. Complete with palm trees and chaise lounges, hookahs and EDM music it is a beautiful, fun yet relaxing place to spend a day or evening.
Opening on a beach is a difficult adventure; therefore, Nightclub & Bar caught up with Dounoulis and asked him how he pulled it off.
I understand you are the only licensed premise on the beach that is not affiliated with a casino. How did you accomplish this?
It wasn't over night of course and it wasn't about having powerful friends but rather an ability to project the logic that existed. We've been in business for many years in the city and we took the idea of transforming a dilapidated street end into an outer deck where people can sit outside enjoy the weather just like they do in Europe. Even though we were met great opposition from the then business administrator, we overcame and succeeded in creating the beginning of a great relationship with the city.
Then going in front of the Alcohol & Beverage control of New Jersey was the bigger task we had to face; demonstrating that we are responsible business people.
Opening on the beach must have unique construction issues. Tell us about plumbing, facilities and how you actually solve these challenges.
Indeed it was a task but with personal knowledge of construction, true friends, a lot of dedication, the hardest work and plenty of money to spend we made it possible. Can't forget the gray hair also.
Tell us about how you market Bungalow Beach.
This year was an uphill battle to build the beach bar on time and through many obstacles we succeeded. Now, as you can see, I think we made it nice enough where word of mouth would be our primary marketing strategy for now. Next year we will make it even nicer with an enlarged upper decking, adding to the volley ball courts, and more game venues. The hookahs were a personal touch. Sitting on the beach with your friends smoking what we call the peace pipe.
Why is EDM best suited for your crowd?
When I travel in the Mediterranean I visited a beach bar in Greece, I fell in love with the music and the atmosphere it created. It shows that even here our customers are enjoying the decision as well.
How did you get into this business?
Our father was in the restaurant business since he was 12 years old and opened a few successful food outlets in the city. As young children we worked in the business absorbing all that we could learn. Our monthly task was to walk among the tourists and listen to their likes and dislikes. We also traveled worldwide and from all that we learned we had set on a vision, to someday build something different and exciting. Atlantic City is our home and lately it needs all the help it can get with new non-casino attractions.
How does Bungalow transition from the day crowd to the night?
My father "the official owner" and our chef manage the back of the house. My brother, sister and I manage front of the house. We open for breakfast at 8:00 am daily with a second kitchen cooking the lunch, dinner and late night menu items. Transitioning from one to the other becomes second nature after you've done it so many years.
With a weather permitting seasonal business it makes profits hard to predict. How do you deal with projections and payroll, and how long does the season run?
We open in February, if weather permitting, and close in late October and sometimes into November. The weather is a big factor and it is truly a big task to monitor and control your expenses especially with payroll. If you run a clean operation with quality food, an ever expanding menu, an atmosphere that turns heads, and the biggest part, faith in God that everything would be fine, then you don't worry about projections or the weather. And, so far we've broken all previous year’s sales and projections.