The Empress Hotel (New Jersey)

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The Empress Hotel
Empress Hotel Asbury Park.JPG
General information
Location101 Asbury Avenue, Asbury Park, New Jersey, United States 07712
OwnerShep Pettibone
Technical details
Floor count4
Other information
Number of rooms101
Number of restaurants1
Official Website

The Empress Hotel is a popular gay resort located in Asbury Park, New Jersey.[1]

The Hotel opened as a luxury resort for vacationing families in the 1960s. It was a successful resort, attracting the likes of Judy Garland and Liza Minnelli.[2]

In 1980, the Empress was featured on the picture sleeve of Bruce Springsteen's hit single "Hungry Heart", which depicts a photo of Springsteen standing near a phone booth on the Asbury Park boardwalk, with the hotel visible in the background.

By the summer of 1976, Asbury Park was in a state of decline, albeit the Empress Hotel remained a popular establishment. During a New York Times interview, the hotel's manager boasted: "all of our 101 rooms are taken!"[3] Unfortunately, by 1988 the hotel was struggling for business, and closed shortly after.

A strip club, Extreme Fahrenheit, opened in the building in 1993. It became notorious for drugs and prostitution, and was eventually closed because of lewd conduct.[4]

In 1998, Shep Pettibone bought the abandoned building and opened the Paradise Nightclub inside.[5]

The nightclub lured crowds of gay travelers away from Fire Island and instead to the beaches of Asbury Park.[citation needed] The hotel portion reopened in August 2004,[6] and is very popular among gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender travelers in New Jersey.[citation needed]

In 2008, a dining establishment, the Ketchup Grill opened inside. A clothing store, Esphera, catering to gay beach-goers, was added to the ground level in 2008 and is open during the summer months.[citation needed]

The hotel features a restaurant, gift-shop, lounge, nightclub, and outdoor pool.


  1. ^ "EMPRESS HOTEL". Retrieved 9 January 2011.
  2. ^ "New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender monthly webzine; New York Q News".
  3. ^ JOE SHARKEY. "The Past Is Dead in Asbury Park, but the Future Is Arriving." New York Times
  4. ^ "Coalition for a Better Waterfront - Jersey City Approves Windfall Gain for Developer who Swindled S&L; out of $ 16 Million". 17 August 2001. Archived from the original on 17 August 2001.
  5. ^ "Gay Asbury Park". 25 June 2004. Archived from the original on 25 June 2004.
  6. ^ "Gay Asbury Park". 13 February 2005. Archived from the original on 13 February 2005.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°13′06″N 74°00′06″W / 40.21838°N 74.00180°W / 40.21838; -74.00180