Eric Hanson had a difficult question to answer last week, “How many filet mignons do you order for 10,000 people?”
Hanson, the manager at Blue Water Grille Restaurant and Bar at the Bolero Resort in Wildwood, settled on 10 cases, or 240 steaks, and after Monday night, he had already sold 100 of them. And 100 salmon.
He doubled his liquor order. And the staff came up with some cleverly named drinks. The MAGArita, Subponea Colada, Impeachment Punch, Moscow Mueller, Russian Collusion — and then there’s The Sanders, “you buy the drink and we give it to someone who doesn’t have one,” the menu says.
“This is a monumental thing,” Hanson said of Wildwood being the site of a rally for President Donald Trump. “It’s a historical moment and we’re happy to be a part of it.”
The jolt of business was unusual for a Monday in January. Typically the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays in January, he said. But not this week, as thousands of people began descending upon the shore town Sunday and Monday.
The hotel at the Bolero has 120 rooms and they were all booked within 12 hours of Trump announcing he was coming to Wildwood. Some people arrived Sunday. They were full by Monday night. Some people are checking out Tuesday but those rooms are being filled immediately, Hanson said.
The Blue Water Grille will live stream the rally on four 12-foot screens and three LCD TVs. And they lined up bands to play from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. for the post-rally crowd.
“This is more like a Saturday night in August,” Hanson said.
Over at Shamrock Beef & Ale, red, white and blue decorations are hung and there’s a guy in a Donald Trump costume walking around greeting everyone.
“We’re trying to stay impartial, but we are Trump supporters,” said Tom Gerace, the owner of Shamrock and two other bars, Amnesia and Castaways. Castaways, an outdoor tiki bar, was the only one not open for the rally.
Monday night was busy, he said, but not overwhelming. “It seemed like a lot of people who came down last night jumped right in line,” he said.
Someone named Phil America is hosting a pregame rally at the Shamrock Tuesday during the day. People were starting to swarm the door at 11.a.m.
“Wintertime is tough down here. It’s dreary,” Gerace said. “So this is a boost for everybody.”
Mike DeClemente, owner of the Alumni Grill cut his vacation short to open back up for the rally. He’s typically closed from Christmas until the week after the Superbowl.
“We’re very excited about it,” he said. “Whatever party side you’re on, this is a major event and we are Wildwood people. It’s nice for the town to have.”
The minute he opened his doors, a customer came in and ordered a bunch of salads and sandwiches to be delivered to his spot in line for the rally, about 15 blocks away from the restaurant.
“We’re delivering to people in line or the protesters if they want it,” DeClemente said.
At Duffinetti’s Restaurant & Lounge they’re offering a bag lunch special just for the rally. For $20 you get an Italian hoagie, a soft pretzel, potato chips, two chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of water — plus 10 percent off coupon for dinner that’s only good for Tuesday night, after the rally.
“This is awesome,” said Executive Chef Stephen Quici, shouting over the chaos of a hectic kitchen. “The owner is walking around saying this is the most exciting day of her life and she’s been on the island for over 50 years.”
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