Our list of favorite things to do in Las Vegas has always included visiting Binion’s and devouring one of the town’s best burgers while sitting at the counter in the Binion’s Cafe. Note the past tense. Damnit.
Recently, all the bar stools at the Binion’s Cafe counter were removed, we trust to save on labor costs.
Seriously, are you trying to make a Las Vegas blog cry?
Thankfully, the burgers haven’t gone anywhere. You just have to order them at a table. If you like gambling and dining alone, sitting at a table is a lot more awkward, but, yeah, those burgers.
If you’re craving counter seating, you can still find some at the nearby Binion’s Deli. The out-of-the-way restaurant has an abbreviated menu, but service is friendly and quick.
You’ll do in a pinch.
On the bright side, Binion’s has some sweet values, no matter where you sit.
Those expensive burger joints on The Strip just got schooled.
While our love of Binion’s is unflagging, the removal of the bar stools in Binion’s Cafe, in combination with the casino’s bars no longer stocking bottles of Captain Morgan (oh, the humanity—although it’s still available at the outside bars), means we’re stopping by less frequently lately. Change in Las Vegas is inevitable, but we reserve the right to hope things can also change back.
The horse-drawn carriage service called “Love Carriage” has commenced service in downtown Las Vegas. The carriage service began operating on Feb. 20, 2015, under the cover of darkness.
It’s not surprising the operators of Love Carriage, Margarita Reyes Ramos and her husband, Giovanni Serrano Padron, want to keep the service on the down-low, given that the last time such rides were offered (in 2007) four people were thrown from a carriage and injured. After the accident, carriage rides were banned. Because horses in traffic, that’s why. It’s not rocket science.
What goes clip-clop-slap, clip-clop-slap? An Amish escort service handbiller. Or something.
The Las Vegas City Council approved horse-drawn carriage services in April 2014, after giving the issue, oh, six minutes of thoughtful consideration.
Why did the City Council approve something so obviously misguided? Presumably, “to promote economic development, bring new jobs downtown and perhaps keep tourists downtown longer.” We’re thinking it may also promote spinal injuries and traumatized animals, but we’re no Las Vegas City Councilperson. Read more.
Horses and cars are as compatible as Donny and Marie Osmond. Long story.
The launch of Love Carriage services took place near a municipal parking garage across from Downtown Grand. A makeshift red carpet was laid out, and a group of about 20 people were on-hand for the arrival of the carriage.
Yes, we got some video. Please note the first official horse freak-out (30 seconds in), before even a single passenger has ridden.
What could possibly go wrong?
So, a couple of bright spots. At least there was some consideration given to the welfare of the horses involved in the Love Carriage experience. The service won’t be allowed to operate on days which are 90 degrees or hotter. Also of note: The horses must wear horse diapers. Seriously.
Another bright spot is this service may not be in operation too long. When the business was licensed, it was for a one-year term. Again, that was in April 2014. Hopefully, the license won’t be renewed.
The Love Carriage can be found in a “staging area” at the corner of Fourth Street and Ogden. Carriage rides are prohibited on Fremont Street, Las Vegas Boulevard and on Maryland Parkway and Casino Center Boulevard south of Carson Avenue. Wherever those might actually be.
Here’s the pricing and hours of operation.
Let’s not and say we didn’t.
Given the low-profile launch of the Love Carriage service, it’s clear the owners want to avoid public scrutiny for a business that never should’ve been approved in the first place.
Let’s hope nobody, human or otherwise, is hurt before this horse-drawn carriage service quickly goes the way of the equally-repugnant Las Vegas Zoo.
Right up front, we’ll say two things. We were against the dimming of lights on The Strip to honor basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. (Given the short list of luminaries for whom this honor was previously bestowed, a basketball coach doesn’t make the cut.) Also, we used to work at Caesars Entertainment, the company that owns the High Roller Ferris wheel.
That said, just about everybody on the Las Vegas Strip and downtown played along when there was a groundswell of support (at least among UNLV students and alum) for dimming the lights on The Strip when Rebels coach Jerry Tarkanian died on Feb. 11, 2015. Almost everybody.
Watching video of the Strip going dark on Feb. 18, there was one prominent structure that remained fully lit during the Tarkanian tribute. It was the High Roller Ferris wheel. The world’s tallest observation wheel was fully lit and bright red. Watch.
Dimming lights on such occasions is voluntary, of course. So, why is it a big deal that High Roller officials decided to leave the wheel lit? Because when questioned about it, a High Roller representative said, “FAA regulations prevented the High Roller from going dark last night. In lieu of that, we opted to shine Rebel Red to honor the late great coach.”
This is, to put it poetically, utter horseshit.
The alleged horseshit.
For months, while the wheel was being built, and before its full lighting array was installed, the structure used what are known as “obstruction” lights to satisfy FAA recommendations. Those are the little red lights you see on buildings and towers.
On the night of the Jerry Tarkanian tribute, High Roller officials could’ve used those lights and dimmed the rest of the wheel. Instead, a conscious decision was made to leave the lights on, creating a rare situation where the wheel would be the most eye-catching part of the Strip for the duration of the widely-reported tribute.
When we inquired with the FAA, the Public Affairs Manager of the FAA’s Pacific Division confirmed what we suspected, “We are not aware of any formal FAA objection to this proposed dimming.”
He went on to explain that while the FAA has marking and lighting recommendations for tall structures, they’re just that–recommendations. The FAA “can object to a proposal to turn off lights or to not light something, but the FAA does not have the authority to enforce lighting or marking requirements.”
So, yeah, had the High Roller wanted to fully take part in the Jerry Tarkanian tribute, it could have dimmed the lights.
To do that, though, according to a High Roller rep, the wheel would have to be “parked,” and no passengers would be allowed on the wheel during the time the wheel was dark. That’s a costly proposition, and in that light, it’s more understandable why the High Roller made the decision it did. While the small “beacon” lights meet the FAA’s lighting guidelines, they won’t suffice when the wheel has passengers.
But let’s be clear: The FAA didn’t stop the High Roller from dimming during the Jerry Tarkanian tribute. It was a business decision.
So, is “lie” the right word? Maybe not. We just can’t think of a better one. We attended a public school.
It’s official-official. The Riviera Las Vegas sale to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) is happening, and the once-iconic hotel will close May 4, 2015 at noon.
The final nail in Riviera’s coffin came Feb. 20, 2015, when the LVCVA board voted unanimously to approve the $182.5 million purchase as part of a $2.3 billion expansion to the Las Vegas Convention Center, we yawned.
The LVCVA has released a rendering of what the Riviera site will look like in the not-too-distant future. Behold the gateway to the gambling-free Las Vegas Global Business District.
We’d love to get onboard with this whole extravaganza, but we’ll take a grubby, run-down casino over more “general session space” any day. We don’t convention. We drink and gamble.
The Las Vegas Global Business District is expected to be take between five and eight years to complete.
The project will have two phases, both of which are sort of “meh” unless you manufacture concrete or automotive aftermarket products. Read the official announcement from the LVCVA, including lots of quotes from officials they never actually said.
The LVCVA was kind enough to provide an overhead view of the existing convention center footprint, and how the Riviera Las Vegas land fits into the Las Vegas Global Business District puzzle.
Hint: If you’re in one of those dark areas, your ship is about to come in.
When complete, the Las Vegas Global Business District will be massive, so people-movers will be working overtime taking convention-goers from one end of the site to the other.
Oddly, when our news of the Riviera sale broke, people seemed more concerned with the fate of the hotel’s “Crazy Girls” bronze statue than the hotel itself. Word is the ass-centric statue is owned by Norbert Aleman, producer of the show. Norbert says the statue will go wherever the show goes, and claims to be in talks with three other Las Vegas hotels to relocate the show. Of course, that could just be a producer’s optimism, and it’s just as likely “Crazy Girls” will never re-open at another location. Such is Vegas.
Time to find another good luck charm.
Beyond the bronzed beauties at The Riv, lots of groups who hold their events anually at Riviera will now have to scramble to find other locations for their events. The World Series of Beer Pong will have to bounce to another hotel, and the International Chess Festival was scheduled for June 18-21, 2015. Pawned!
Rollercon, a roller derby convention was scheduled July 22–26, 2015. The American Poolplayers Association National team championships were also slated for the Riviera in August. The American Naturopathic Medical Association’s convention from Aug. 28-30 is also out of luck.
Dibs on, you know, all of it.
We trust all these events will find other homes, and look forward to saying farewell to The Riv in person soon. We had some great times at The Riv, but progress is progress, and we’re always up for some Vegas newness, even if it means the loss of a Strip institution.
Oh, and most conventions have booth babes, so it all sort of evens out in the end.