Monthly Archives: February 2017

Checking In On the Construction at Wynn Plaza

It’s tough to get too riled up about shopping, but since this particular shopping is coming to Wynn Las Vegas, it’s tough to ignore.

We popped in to see what’s up at Wynn Plaza, a $54 million retail center that sits in front of one of the best-known resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. Wynn Las Vegas. Please try and keep up.

Wynn Plaza

Fun fact: Steve Wynn once accidentally shot off his index finger with a handgun.

There’s been a lot of progress since we first reported on the project in Sep. 2016.

The new shopping complex is expected to add 75,000-square-feet of luxury retail space to Wynn Las Vegas. Square feet are, of course, one of the most popular kinds of feet in Las Vegas. For the other kind, you pay extra.

Wynn Plaza Las Vegas

Another fun fact: Steve Wynn once put his elbow through a $155 million painting, “Le Reve.” Wynn purchased the painting for a mere $48 million in 1997.

Wynn Plaza brings the resort’s footprint right down to Las Vegas Boulevard and will generate revenue from previously unused space, as well as giving the shopping center just across the street, Fashion Show, a run for its money.

Wynn Plaza is expected to debut by the end of 2017.

Wynn Plaza

The exterior of Wynn Plaza is already starting to take shape. Hey, some facts aren’t “fun,” they’re just facts.

Interestingly, Wynn Resorts recently sold about half of its interest in Wynn Plaza, and other retail space at Wynn and its sister resort, Encore, to Crown Acquisitions for $472 million. Wynn already got $292 million and will receive another $180 million when construction of Wynn Plaza is complete.

Shopping is big business in Las Vegas, as well as being incredibly boring.

Several shopping malls in Vegas have changed hands in the last year, including Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood being sold to Institutional Mall Investors and Crystals at City Center being sold to Invesco Real Estate and Simon Property Group. The latter deal was for $1.1 billion. That’s a lot of handbags and shoes normal people can’t begin to afford.

Wynn Plaza

Oh, all right, one more fun fact: Steve Wynn’s real last name is Weinberg.

On a less boring note, Wynn Plaza is likely to have not only high-end retail shops, but also new
restaurant and bar options, and we’re always up for more that.

More construction porn ahead! Enjoy.

Wynn Plaza Update: Feb. 20, 2017

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Plaza Casino Gets Second Eye-Popping Mural

Downtown’s Plaza Hotel has yet another massive mural adorning its hotel tower, and this time the art veers toward the ominous.

We recently wrote about the Plaza’s first larger-than-life mural, Cultivate Harmony, by Shepard Fairey. The hotel’s second mural is by Dean Stockton, also known as D*Face.

Plaza mural Las Vegas

The new mural is reminiscent of the work of Roy Lichtenstein. We knew this liberal arts degree would come in handy someday.

The latest mural, “Behind Closed Doors,” has a bit of a story behind it. The image is apparently that of a woman who came to Las Vegas with her husband and her lover. She murdered her husband, leaving him in the desert. When she comes back to her room expecting to find her lover, she’s haunted by her dead husband instead. Read more.

While massive, “Behind Closed Doors” can be tricky to see from ground level. (It’s on the south side of the Plaza’s hotel tower.) One of the best views is from the hotel’s pool deck, complete with 16 pickleball courts, but we’ve got an even better one. We couldn’t resist. We love pop art.

The two Plaza murals join dozens of others throughout downtown Las Vegas, mainly thanks to the Life is Beautiful music festival.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 41: “Puppetry of the Penis,” Gambling Tales and Vegas Exclusives

It’s our girthiest episode yet of the Vital Vegas Podcast.

Get the naked facts about “Puppetry of the Penis” at the Erotic Heritage Museum with an exclusive interview with its stars, Robert Ryan and Jamie Morris.

We also chat with Jared DeBehnke, owner of Jared’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers at Pawn Plaza.

Jared's hot dogs and hamburgers

To be clear, this is not a photo from “Puppetry of the Penis.”

Hot dogs! See? There’s almost a theme to this week’s show. That’s some quality podcast entertainment right there.

Also in the mix is a metric ass-ton of insider skinny about all the latest Las Vegas news, including stories about Chick-fil-A’s third Vegas location, drama at Du-par’s, a hefty grant for the Neon Museum, Caesars Entertainment’s resorts getting a resort fee bump, Cosmopolitan’s new blog, the crash at Speed Vegas, “Hell’s Kitchen” and a new music festival downtown, Las Rageous.

Neon Museum storage

A $425,000 grant means the Neon Museum will be able to take a number of classic signs out of storage, including some with our favorite design flourish, Googie stars.

We serve up not one, but two, listicles of the week, “10 Alternate Things ‘Puppetry of the Penis’ Could’ve Called Itself” and “11 Casino Gambling Devices and Their Surprising Names.”

We’ll regale you with gambling stories, listener collisions, Las Vegas history and so much less.

Lean in, listen up and fill your earholes with everything Vegas.

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Chick-fil-A Near Las Vegas Strip Gets Opening Date

It’s possible we’ve mentioned Chick-fil-A a time or two in recent weeks. That’s because we’ve been waiting for years to unleash our pent-up lust for the chain’s glorious chicken sandwiches, and two Chick-fil-A locations are now crushing it in Las Vegas.

To be precise, though, the two existing Chick-fil-A locations aren’t exactly in Las Vegas. They’re in Henderson. That’s about to change, though.

A third Chick-fil-A opens March 30, 2017, just off The Strip on Sahara Blvd. at S. Rancho Drive. The new outpost sits just across the street from the Palace Station casino, not far from Lucky Dragon and SLS Las Vegas.

Chick-fil-A Rancho Sahara

Do not make us choose between Chick-fil-A and saving an infant from a burning building. Infants can fend for themselves.

This new Chick-fil-A puts the restaurant within striking distance of The Strip, and it’s pretty much guaranteed to see the same crush of customers as the first two Las Vegas locations.

The third Chick-fil-A is expected to take some of the pressure off its sister locations. Both of the Henderson stores have been so busy, they’ve had to employ off-duty police officers to do crowd control since opening on Jan. 26, 2017.

Here’s another look at the third Chick-fil-A in Las Vegas.

Chick-fil-A plans to have 10 restaurants in Nevada over the next five years. So, grab the app, skip the pickles and join us as we bask in our Chick-fil-A euphoria.

And while you’re at it, please let us know how seriously we need to take this restraining order.

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Caesars Entertainment Preps to Launch Paid Parking

Paid parking has become the new normal at Las Vegas resorts, and one of the Strip’s biggest players, Caesars Entertainment, is ready to expand its paid parking program to include guests who self-park.

We hit The Strip to check on the progress of the paid parking roll-out expected to kick in sometime in March 2017. Caesars Entertainment already charges for valet parking at most of its Strip resorts.

Flamingo Las Vegas paid parking

Up first, Flamingo. The parking machines are encased in plywood. Let’s keep it that way!

While we were on a quest to visit every Caesars casino that will have paid parking, we did make the occasional stop to imbibe, a word which comes from Latin, meaning “if you can feel your face, you’re doing it wrong.”

At Flamingo, we had a lovely dinner at Carlos’n Charlie’s, including one of our favorite dishes in town, the Parmesan & Swiss Chicken. We played a bit of blackjack, and couldn’t help but snap a pic of two newlyweds at a nearby table.

Casino newlyweds

Congrats to the lovebirds. Oh, and both of the newlyweds were women. Las Vegas loves everyone’s love equally.

Next, we bopped next door to the Linq hotel, and again, paid parking machines are in place.

Linq paid parking

The machines at Linq are at the top of a steep incline, so that’s sure to be interesting.

Our Parade of WTF isn’t done yet. Right next door is Harrah’s Las Vegas, where a familiar theme is beginning to unspool. If you can unspool a theme. Just play along.

Harrah's paid parking

Harrah’s appears to have the most machines of any Caesars resort. If this keeps up, Las Vegas is going to experience a plywood and yellow paint shortage.

Next, we zip across the street to Caesars Palace, recently named “Las Vegas Resort With the Most Topless Women Carved From Marble.” We were going to say “David Wang,” but not everyone knows there’s a replica of Michelangelo’s David at Caesars Palace.

Back to the parking thing.

Caesars Palace paid parking

Caesars Palace is lagging a bit. We’re cool with that. Take your sweet time.

Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s share a parking structure, so we got a two-fer.

Paris Bally's paid parking

We totally predicted the plywood shortage.

Part of the pitch with paid parking has been it will help upgrade the various parking garages. That appears to already be happening at Paris and Bally’s. The parking structure already has a lighting system to let guests know which spaces are available (green) or not (red, please try and keep up).

Paris Bally's parking

You’re paying for the availability indicators, so enjoy! Bonus: The Availability Indicators would make a great band name.

While Caesars Entertainment has said the self-parking at Rio Las Vegas will remain free, we decided to have a look, anyway. And, boy, we’re so glad we did. As expected, there were no paid parking machines to be found at Rio. Inside, however, we found gold.

Rio Kiss Mini Golf Car

This awesome Kiss Mini Golf Car is right on the casino floor at Rio. Curious if they had to pay to park there.

While the car is cool, we found something even cooler. It’s so Vegas, it’s ridiculous. Apparently, guests have been getting creative with their selfies, so Kiss Mini Golf had to take the necessary actions to deter such behavior.

Wait for it.

Rio Kiss Mini Golf Car

So Kiss. So Vegas. So awkward.

Time to swing by Planet Hollywood. There was no trace of parking machines at Planet Hollywood, and presumably the hotel won’t be charging for parking because the structure is owned and managed by Miracle Mile Shops, not Caesars Entertainment. We take our good news where we can get it!

That’s about it. When Caesars Entertainment rolls out its paid parking program in full, it will mark the end of an era in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts started the trend when it instituted paid parking across its half of The Strip.

Visit Caesars Entertainment’s Web site for all the paid parking details.

It’s important to note you can still park free at both MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment resorts, but you have to get their respective credit cards. Having the card bumps you up to a qualifying tier in their player loyalty clubs. Get details about MGM Resorts’ program here.

The big casino companies seem determined to ride out their paid parking plans, despite rumors of fallout inside the casinos. Retail shops at some MGM Resorts casinos have reported drops of as much as 30% in business since paid parking was implemented.

We recently shared an MGM Grand insider’s observation that front line employees (from valets to cocktail waitresses and bartenders) have taken a major hit in tips, a decrease of 30% to 50%, according to our source. Read more.

Still, stock prices continue to rise, so it’s likely paid parking is here to stay. (Although, given recent bumps in the road, the jury’s still out.) Paid parking is also coming to Cosmopolitan, Wynn and Encore. While paid parking may seem to make business sense short-term, there’s a growing feeling the decision to charge for parking may have unforeseen consequences, including a change in the perception of Las Vegas itself.

Update (2/11/17): Caesars Entertainment has also announced it will raise resort fees at 10 Strip resorts.

One blog’s opinion: This really is the worst possible time to learn we can’t sit on the tongue.

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Expansion of Golden Gate Casino Has Begun

An expansion of the oldest casino in Las Vegas, Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, has begun.

The expansion will increase the footprint of the Golden Gate’s “intimate” casino and increase the number of slot machines by nearly 30% (100 additional machines). Golden Gate currently has 361 slots. Yes, exactly.

Construction is expected to be complete by August 2017.

Golden Gate expansion

Casinos and construction equipment? We’re going to need some Kleenex.

Golden Gate is expanding into the former La Bayou casino space. La Bayou, known for its free beads, daiquiris and unmistakable funk, was part of a purchase of several venues that also included the nearby Mermaids and the Glitter Gulch strip club.

La Bayou, Mermaids and Glitter Gulch closed on June 27, 2016. We should know because this blog ate the very last deep fried Oreo served by Mermaids.

Golden Gate

The Golden Gate construction site is like a duck, calm on the surface, but paddling like the dickens underneath. Or something.

The addition to Golden Gate is expected to be a two-story building. The casino will be on the first floor, and the second floor will be used primarily to supply liquor to the Golden Gate’s casino.

The demand for liquor at Golden Gate has outpaced the small hotel’s ability to deliver it, and a team of four people carry kegs and boxes of liquor up and down stairs throughout the day due to the lack of storage space. The second floor of the new structure will allow gravity to do the lion’s share of keeping the hooch flowing, and could save the casino $150,000 a year in labor and associated costs.

Golden Gate construction

Granted, we’re using the word “construction” very loosely at the moment.

At the moment, construction crews are doing some things we don’t entirely understand. They’re digging out Mermaid’s old basement and mixing the soil so it has a more uniform density or composition. Look, we are a blog and not a pedologist.

Fun fact: La Bayou was just 25 feet wide.

If you look closely, you can see the steps that went into La Bayou’s basement, a basement we didn’t entirely know existed until we security breached the construction site.

Golden Gate construction

Those are either steps or the equivalent of seeing Harambe in a Cheeto, you decide.

We’ll keep you in the loop as the Golden Gate project progresses. It’s good to hear some positive news after experiencing the loss of Du-par’s restaurant, Golden Gate’s pancake mecca since 2010.

Du-par’s closed Feb. 7, 2017, as a result of, among other things, the restaurant’s owner allegedly owing the IRS an amount of money we can’t disclose.

Golden Gate construction

You have your thing, we have a heavy equipment thing. Don’t judge.

We’re also keeping our eye on the project on the other side of Fremont Street, the new resort which will encompass the Las Vegas Club, Glitter Gulch and Mermaids. Our interrogation techniques have proven fruitless with owner Derek Stevens, but we’ll keep at it.

This blog loves it some Las Vegas newness.

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