John J. Tunney III, owner and visionary behind of one of the most anticipated restaurants on the East Coast, was our personal tour guide at Ballo at Mohegan Sun. Slated to open in September 2011, Ballo is aiming to be the #1 restaurant to hit the Connecticut casino since it opened nearly 15 years ago. And if I were a gambling man, I’d put all my chips into Ballo’s pot.
As we made our way through the dining rooms, bar and kitchen, we couldn’t help but notice the passion and enthusiasm John Tunney was displaying as he explained his visions and ideas. From describing the cathedral-inspired architecture to filling the restaurant with Italian fixtures, fabrics and lighting, John was making us all believers right before our eyes.
John J. Tunney III (right) leading us through the construction zone…
But Tunney’s goal isn’t about high ceilings or a Carrera marble-topped bar. To him, it’s about one thing, the customer. If you like to people watch, then Ballo will make sure they have a table for you right in the middle of the action. Want some privacy? Simply reserve one of their private dining rooms with a table-side fireplace and you won’t even notice you’re in a casino.
And that’s the engine powering Tunney’s vision. When you step inside Ballo, you are immediately removed from the flashing slot machine lights and cigarette smoke and thrown into a world where you can dance on tables and enjoy some of the best Italian food around.
I managed to get a few minutes with John mainly to pick his brain. Without skipping a beat, he was able to answer all of my questions while maintaining his upbeat, energetic persona.
As to why he wanted to open a restaurant in Mohegan Sun, John replied: “I’ve had success with casinos before (MGM Las Vegas, Caesars Palace Las Vegas) and I love the competition of having other restaurants all under the same roof“. And that competitive spirit is what will skyrocket Ballo into the stars.
Check out the pics below for some more behind the scenes action:
*All photos courtesy of Albert Huerta