Closed since Sept. 20, the LaCosta Lounge is expected to reopen in 2021 while longer-range plans evolve for redevelopment of the site.


LaCosta Lounge, the landmark Sea Isle City bar that closed in September to make way for the property’s redevelopment into an upscale hotel, will reopen for one more summer, its new owner said Tuesday.

Developer Christopher Glancey, who teamed up with his business partner Bob Morris to buy LaCosta for $7.3 million in 2018, originally had plans to demolish the lounge in the fall to build a hotel, restaurant, outdoor bar and banquet hall.

Glancey, though, said he plans to reopen LaCosta for one more summer while he and Morris revise their plans for the hotel complex, known as The Ludlam.

He is not ready to say whether he will keep the LaCosta name or rebrand the property. However, Glancey still must obtain the LaCosta liquor license from the bar’s former owner before the lounge can reopen.

A fixture in Sea Isle since 1972, LaCosta Lounge established a reputation as one of the best-known bars at the Jersey Shore. The old-school nightclub hosted multiple generations of party-goers in the past 48 years.

LaCosta shut down on Sept. 20 as Glancey and Morris were getting ready to demolish the building to create room for construction of The Ludlam.

An architectural rendering depicts what The Ludlam hotel project will look like when completed. However, there are plans to revise the project. (Courtesy of Christopher Glancey)

However, Glancey and LaCosta’s former owner, James Bennett, have not yet been able to reach agreement for the transfer of the LaCosta liquor license. City Council was expected to approve the liquor license transfer from Bennett to Glancey during its meeting Tuesday, but the matter was pulled from the agenda.

Samuel Reale, an attorney representing the city, told Council that there has been a delay in the transfer because Bennett Enterprises, a group controlled by Bennett that holds the liquor license, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Dec. 19. Reale also said Bennett withdrew his consent to have Council approve the formal transfer of the license.

In the meantime, Council has no authority to act on the liquor license transfer as long as it remains in limbo.

“The City Council, through no fault of its own, has no control over it. It has no authority to execute or act upon the pending transfer application,” Reale said. “There are obviously issues between buyer and seller and when and if those are worked out, the Council will then have an opportunity to act upon a transfer, if in fact it is moving forward.”

Bennett could not be reached for comment Tuesday after the Council meeting. Glancey said the bankruptcy filing will cause a delay in having the liquor license transferred to him, but he expressed confidence that he and Morris will ultimately obtain the license so they can reopen LaCosta.

“The bankruptcy is going to be a temporary delay for us,” Glancey said in an interview. “We’re going to move forward. We’ll be back on the Council agenda for the transfer.”

LaCosta Lounge occupies a prime spot at the corner of John F. Kennedy Boulevard and Landis Avenue, the gateway to the downtown business district.

At the same time they are planning to reopen LaCosta Lounge, Glancey and Morris will be revising The Ludlam project. The upscale all-suite hotel would dramatically transform one of the most prominent locations in Sea Isle, creating a new anchor for the gateway to the downtown business district.

The same site at the corner of John F. Kennedy Boulevard and Landis Avenue is where some of Sea Isle’s most historic and iconic businesses once stood, including the former Bellevue Hotel and Cronecker’s Hotel & Restaurant. Cronecker’s was demolished to build the LaCosta.

“We’re not going to leave a corner so important to the town empty in the summer,’ Glancey said.

The Ludlam hotel represents a new wave of development catering to the beach town’s higher-end tourism market.

The four-story project received approval from Sea Isle’s Zoning Board in February. When they bought the LaCosta Lounge, Glancey and Morris also acquired the Coast Motel, Casino Pizzeria and parking lot that are part of the entire 1.25-acre site. Those buildings will also be torn down to create space for The Ludlam, according to plans.

Glancey and Morris are going to submit the project to Sea Isle’s Planning Board after they complete the revisions. Glancey didn’t disclose exactly how the project will be revamped, but noted that the changes are expected to be “significant.”

The Coast Motel and the Casino Pizzeria are also part of the LaCosta Lounge complex that will be demolished to make room for redevelopment of the property.

Revisions to the project follow a settlement in litigation that challenged the Zoning Board’s approval of The Ludlam.

John Simoncini, a neighbor who had objected to plans for the hotel complex, filed a lawsuit last April that argued the Zoning Board’s approval was improper.

Simoncini alleged in his suit that Sea Isle’s Planning Board – not the Zoning Board – should have had jurisdiction over the project.

Glancey said a settlement has been reached in the suit calling for the revised plans for the hotel to be submitted to the Planning Board for its review and approval.