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The Palm, unique fine dining in Atlantic City

Paul Sandler, General Manager of the Palm, Atlantic City holds a four (4) pound lobster
Paul Sandler, General Manager of the Palm, Atlantic City holds a four (4) pound lobster
Donald B. Kravitz

The sixth (6th) annual Restaurant Week in Atlantic City, New Jersey runs from March 2 – March 8, 2014. Eating establishments throughout the city, including casino restaurants, will take part. One of the most popular restaurants involved is the Palm. The Palm is special and has a huge following of diners who enjoy fine dining.

The Palm, unique fine dining in Atlantic City with walls adorned with art.
Donald B. Kravitz

Most everyone has that one special restaurant that they frequent time after time, and in Atlantic City it is the Palm. Located in the Tropicana Casino “Quarter” at The Tropicana Resort, a block from the boardwalk and beach, this American fine dining steakhouse is spacious and its walls are filled with caricature like portraits of local and national personalities, a Palm trademark.

Dining at a restaurant that treats all guests like each one is special as the Palm thrives on providing excellent meals and service set to exceptional standards. People keep returning to the Palm for its warm welcoming service . . . but for most, it is the food.

The food is what has them coming back mainly because it never fails to exceed expectations. The Palm is a classic steakhouse, and they know how it’s done. The best, top of the line beef is seared like it should be and the seafood is flown in fresh daily.

The menu consists of their to die for cheesecake, top of the line prime beef, jumbo lobsters and authentic Italian entrees, using the best traditional ingredients and time tested recipes. “Our chicken parmigiana is simply the best I've ever had,” Sandler said. “Period.”

The New York Palm was the first. It opened in 1926 and is now the oldest in the company that currently has twenty-four (24) locations, all of them inspired by the original. In that regard, The Atlantic City Palm has become known as one of the best run restaurants in the company.

Each Palm is run by its own staff not through the home office. Paul Sandler, General Manager of the Atlantic City Palm for its direction and has been with the restaurant since its opening in 2005. Sandler was selected for the Palm staff when the restaurant opened in Atlantic City. He was picked because of his extensive background with Showboat/Harrah’s casinos where Sandler managed two of the casino property’s most acclaimed gourmet restaurants.

Under his tutelage the Palm in Atlantic City quickly became one of the companies most popular eateries and in 2009 was named the "Best Run" restaurant of the twenty-four (24) Palms by the parent company.

“The Palm is not a casino restaurant,” he explained, “There is no doubt my experience at the casinos definitely helped me when I accepted this position. I have had the opportunity to learn and to understand how to create a memorable guest experience and to build relationships with guests that accompanied me to where I am today.”

“I appreciate that the Palm is a family business that adheres to tremendously high standards. Those standards separate us from the million restaurants that sell steak. However, only a handful sell the quality of USDA prime that we do and among them, we still try harder and go “above and beyond” with attention to detail and quality of service.”

If reading this provides the insight that the Palm maybe a wonderful place to work Sandler notes that the Palm doesn’t hire its wait staff ‘off the street.’ There is a hierarchy of training that is required of every staff member. “One of the things that makes me the most proud are my employees. When you join the Palm staff, you start as an assistant waiter,” said Sandler. “Most of our assistant waiters have more experience than the average server, but we feel it’s important for them to learn the culture of the Palm before they’re promoted to server. Many of our staff have been with me and the Palm since day one.”

“The people we employ are all professionals,” he added. “They’re here because they want to be here. That’s what makes the environment so positive. It’s an absolute pleasure coming to work.” That joy is obvious as you rarely, if ever, see Sandler behind the welcoming podium area without a huge smile.
The food like the service is what separates the Palm from the rest. “We make a great steak,” acknowledged Sandler. “I’d also put our crab cakes against the best in Baltimore,” which is high praise from someone who spent his early childhood in Baltimore eating Chesapeake Bay seafood. Sandler frequently samples the menu items as a quality check. “I love steak and potatoes, but I try not to indulge too much.”

Sandler is quick to praise his family. “You can't do this job without the support from your family. He and his wife Patty have been together thirty-one (31) years and they have two daughters Aly, age 17, and Sam, age 13. The girls accompany Sandler often during their summer break. “In fact, my daughter Aly works here as a part-time Hostess on Saturdays. They both have plans to work here when they’re older.”

Talking to Paul Sandler leaves no doubt that he is passionate and loves his work. “I really want to offer my customers something different and I am putting my energy into expanding certain assets of our restaurant. We believe we can develop a very substantial Friday lunch business which has now begun between the hours of 11:30 m am - 3:00 pm. In addition we want our customers to remember we have three private dining rooms that can accommodate parties from ten (10) to one hundred and ten (110) which are perfect for any type theme or business dinners.”

Paul Sandler was born in Patterson, New Jersey. He graduated Richard Stockton College (1985) with a degree in Marine Biology. “I love keep my love for Marine Biology in my head but it is now hospitality that is in my blood.”

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