Las Vegas company ready to pump new life into Atlantic City with 'permanent circus' at redeveloped Warner Theatre

The Hook, a new "experiential" hotel, will open in June and feature a 422-seat theater, an Italian American psychedelic restaurant, and four bars.

Las Vegas company ready to pump new life into Atlantic City with 'permanent circus' at redeveloped Warner Theatre

Ross Mollison feels the revitalization in Atlantic City each time he visits.

He is the "impressario extraordinaire", founder of Las Vegas entertainment firm Spiegelworld. He knows how a vibrant hospitality and entertainment scene should look. Mollison now wants to bring the same vibrancy to New Jersey's gaming destination, which is under pressure.

Mollison is confident that the transformation of Atlantic City's Warner Theatre, a 94-year old theatre, into a permanent venue for live entertainment, in partnership with Caesars Entertainment will help Atlantic City to regain its reputation as a hospitality mecca.

They won't drive past Atlantic City any more, everyone from Philly. "They're going straight to Atlantic City because that's the place where fun will be from now on," he said.

The Hook will open in the Warner Theatre in Atlantic City on June 30. It will include a 422-seat live theater, a 200 seat American Italian psychedelic fusion restaurant, and four bars.

The Hook's Live Show will push the limits of what it is known for. This includes raunchy and circus-like live entertainment and comedy shows. Las Vegas hits include "Absinthe", at Caesars Palace, and "Atomic Saloon Show", at the Venetian Resort.

Mollison stated that Spiegelworld has spent almost 20 years imagining the best way to entertain those who are passionate about what they do.

Mollison, who declined to give more details, said that the Hook live show would be a comedy featuring new characters and talents from around world. Christine Jones, Tony Award-winning Broadway set designer, will be working on the production. Cal McCrystal is directing the show. McCrystal has previously worked on the Atomic Saloon Show and "Paddington".

My aim is to create a fantastic hospitality offer. Mollison stated that we could offer something that neither New York nor Philly can provide. "We will be able to give the most spectacular permanent circus, which is going to take place every week throughout the year."

The Warner Theatre was originally built in 1929 and measures 14,020-square feet. The venue has been home to bowling alleys and pizza parlors over the years. In the 1970s, the auditorium was demolished along with the main lobby. The facade of the building was saved during the demolition and it is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Superfrico, the in-house restaurant of the venue's reimagined design, will be a part of it. The restaurant will offer traditional Italian food with a twist. For example, pepperoni with honey and pickled chiles on a pizza. Mollison also said that they plan to serve lobster dishes as homage to the famous Atlantic City restaurant Hackney's, and have a bar program.

The Hook will have at least four bars located throughout the venue. Mollison stated that each bar will have a different brand, which will be announced months before the opening. Mollison said that one bar will face the boardwalk, so that people can get drinks and food at Superfrico even if they don't enter the venue.

Superfrico is more than just a restaurant. The space will be used by visitors to enter the theater where The Hook's performance is being held. They must first pass through the box-office in what Mollison describes as a "spiritual wash" or "disorientry."

Mollison, as part of the transformation, has enlisted the help of several artists, including Mark Ogge and Randy Polumbo, to create visuals for the space. Jackson will create a series of lithographs that are based on the original prints by French-American ornithologist and artist John J. Audubon of birds to decorate The Aviary.

The redevelopment, announced first in 2021, of the Warner Theatre is part of Caesars Entertainment’s $400 million investment in Atlantic City, and the transformation to its Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & casino. The project also includes 700 new rooms, a rooftop pool, a Nobu hotel and restaurant, and Gordon Ramsay's Hell's Kitchen.

Ceasars declined to split the cost of redevelopment the Warner Theatre. According to NBC10 Philadelphia, in 2021 the two companies signed a contract to create The Hook, as well as two other live theatre projects in Las Vegas, and New Orleans, for a cost of approximately $75 million.

There are other large-scale projects underway in the city.

The Water Club, located at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa's Atlantic City location, is undergoing a redesign worth $55 million. Its 757 rooms will now be rebranded as MGM Tower.

The Showboat Resort will host the Island Waterpark, designed by CEO Bart Blatstein of Tower Investments. It features more than 12 slides, an 11-foot-long lazy river, retractable and projected roofs, and even a 30-foot tall "Indoor Tree House", which can be reserved for private events.

Atlantic City Council unanimously voted in March to approve a $2.7 Billion plan for the conversion of Bader Field to a Formula 1 track. Tower Investments, Post Brothers and other companies had proposed a competing $3 billion mixed-use development at the 140-acre location.

Mollison hopes that Spiegelworld will be part of a group of leaders "taking a longer view" of Atlantic City's potential for growth as a tourist destination.

He said, "We won't build this in one day, a week, or even a season." "But in the next decade we will see people saying, 'Yeah I want go to the Shore. I want stay there.