Monthly Archives: March 2017

NFL Approves Raiders Move to Las Vegas

We should say right up front, we are not a sports person. You might say we are to sports as the Amish are to vibrators.

However, the nation is atwitter (especially on Twitter, ironically) with news the Oakland Raiders will relocate to Las Vegas after getting a 31-1 vote from NFL team owners.

Raiders Stadium

There’s nothing quite like that new football stadium smell.

The sole hold-out in the vote was the Miami Dolphins. In time, the Dolphins will be viewed as either as clueless buzzkills or that Chinese guy who, armed with nothing more than shopping bags, stood before a row of tanks in defiance of tyranny in Tiananmen Square.

In any event, it appears the Las Vegas Raiders are destined to be a thing.

Typically, this would be where we rattle off a litany of reasons this is a horrible turn of events, but we’ve decided to just go along with the jubilation instead.

The NFL vote sets a number of things in motion, including building a $1.9 billion domed stadium near the Las Vegas Strip (at Russell Road and Interstate 15, to be specific), but the Raiders will probably play in Oakland for two more seasons. Unless, that is, butt-hurt Oakland gives the Raiders the boot, a distinct possibility.

Nevermind that, though, let’s look at a video of the planned Las Vegas Raiders stadium set to music that will make you want to violently remove your ears with a butter knife.

Whatever the specific timeline for the move, Las Vegas football fans are ecstatic about the Raiders move to Sin City. Optimists have suggested an NFL team in Las Vegas will pump hundreds of millions of dollars into the local economy.

Critics think that assertion is what economists refer to as “hooey,” but again, now is the time to celebrate, not critic. Assuming that’s a verb. Please keep your eye on the ball. See? We can sport with the best of them.

Raiders Stadium

The new stadium’s retractable roof will come in handy during Sin City’s 180-degree summers, which lasts from mid-February through November.

We’re going to set aside the fact the new, 65,000-seat Raiders stadium is being funded with $750 million in public money (some peg that contribution closer to a billion when all is said and done). That’s pocket change in Las Vegas!

Besides, who needs education or public transportation when you can have tailgate parties, cheerleaders and traumatic brain injuries?

While the Raiders won’t be the first professional sports team in Las Vegas, that distinction will be held by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, there’s an undeniable cache to snagging a pro football team.

Las Vegas wasn’t founded on ridiculous notions like “financial viability.” It was founded on optimism and big dreams.

For many, the Raiders moving to Las Vegas is a dream come true.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 45: Burlesque, Pig Masks and High-Tech Casino Security

We’ve got an action-packed episode this week, so whip out that loyalty club card with the Slinky leash and take a listen.

This week, we interview cast members of “Majestik Burlesque,” a saucy striptease show just off The Strip at Royal Resort.

Majestik Burlesque

In this week’s show, we learn the history of the merkin. (Not shown, sadly.)

The “Listicle of the Week” is “Six High-Tech Casino Security Measures,” where we share casino security secrets with mysterious names like Angel Eye, NORA and TableEye21.

Fun fact: Everyone knows casinos use surveillance to monitor slot machines to catch cheaters, but did you know they also monitor guest frustration levels? This surveillance allows casinos to provide a better experience for their guests.

We’ve got the latest scoop about the recent robbery at Bellagio, the newest Chick-fil-A in Las Vegas (opens March 30), the Vegas Golden Knights practice facility, an expansion at the Neon Museum and even some baseless speculation about Sigma Derby at The D and the upcoming demolition (notice we didn’t say “implosion”) of downtown’s Las Vegas Club.

Chick-fil-A Rancho

On March 30, 2017, Las Vegas gets its third Chick-fil-A, just a minute from The Strip. Now, you know where to find us.

In our history segment, we talk about the Gaming Control Board (created on March 29, 1955) and Gaming Commission (created on March 30, 1959). By the time we’re done, you’ll be an expert about which is which and who does what.

We also have a chat with Chris of the Faces and Aces podcast, back in the game after a hiatus and once again telling great Las Vegas stories.

We’re throwing a pantless podcast party, and you’re invited.

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Armed Robbers Hit Rolex Store Inside Bellagio, Resort Goes on Lockdown

A Rolex store named Tesorini at Bellagio was robbed in the early morning hours of March 25, 2017, prompting reports of an “active shooter” (later proven to be false) and general chaos at the high-end Strip resort.

Several news outlets passed along social media posts by witnesses, with conflicting information about the robbery.

A Twitter post shows an armed robber wearing a pig mask outside the Rolex store. Other masks included a cat mask and panda mask.

Bellagio Rolex robbery

Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.

The robber in the photo was one of four suspects involved in the burglary.

The four robbers carried sledge hammers, presumably to assist with smashing the store entrance and jewelry display cases.

The store was closed at the time of the robbery (about 12:50 a.m.). We’re thinking authorities can eliminate rocket scientists from the pool of suspects, as luxury shops generally remove merchandise from display cases overnight. Rolex watches can cost $30,000 or more.

Early reports said at least one of the suspects fired shots inside the Rolex store during the robbery, but authorities later stated witnesses actually heard glass breaking.

One robber, Sebastian Gonzalez, was quickly apprehended by police. Reports suggest the suspect was captured in the Bellagio’s parking garage. Here’s another Twitter pic of the suspect being led out by police.

Bellagio Las Vegas

Asshats in pig masks are why we can’t have nice things.

The robbers apparently tried to escape in a vehicle, but the car wouldn’t start. They then tried to carjack another vehicle, then attempted to escape by foot.

As word of the robbery spread, dozens of guests fled Bellagio (described by several witnesses as a “stampede”), and the casino floor of the neighboring Cosmopolitan was evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has confirmed there were no injuries as a result of the robbery.

Bellagio, owned by MGM Resorts International, has been the site of other robberies and attempted robberies. Probably because that’s where all the money is. Please try and keep up.

In 2010, card-carrying bonehead (and son of a Las Vegas judge) Tony Carleo stole $1 million in chips from the craps pit at Bellagio while wearing a motorcycle helmet. Carleo is currently serving 3-11 years in jail for his misadventure.

In addition to that real-life heist, the most notorious robbery of Bellagio was fictional. Bellagio was one of the targets in “Oceans Eleven.”

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Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts Three New Venues: Redneck Riviera, Born and Raised, Giordano’s

There’s been a flurry of activity at Grand Bazaar Shops outside Bally’s Las Vegas in recent months, including the unveiling of three shiny new venues: Giordano’s, Redneck Riviera and the newest offering, Born and Raised.

It’s time to explore these new venues as only we can—superficially, and with generous amounts of snark so we don’t fall asleep at the keyboard.

First up is Redneck Riviera. Redneck Riviera is a country bar, founded by John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich.

Redneck Riviera

We are not a country music person, so we honestly wouldn’t recognize a Big & Rich song if it were stapled to our forehead.

Redneck Riviera is billed as “a Vegas experience like none-other.” No, they actually say that, in writing. What makes Redneck Riviera so different? “Great music, great drinks, great people!” We are not making this up.

If you want to stand out from other bars in Las Vegas, you have to give customers something they can’t get anywhere else, and you certainly can’t find great music, great drinks or great people, so Rednect Riviera is pretty much guaranteed to succeed.

Hey, we warned you about the snark.

Redneck Riviera

You know, just the typical Las Vegas marketing strategy of having young women stand on barrels.

Beyond the country music and any number of white people attempting to dance, Redneck Riviera also has some great decorative touches.

First, there’s a saddle-shaped disco ball over the dance floor.

Redneck Riviera

It’s like the love child of John Wayne and Liberace. Millennial translation: Oh, nevermind.

There’s also an American flag fashioned from beer cans over one of the establishment’s two bars.

Redneck Riviera

‘Merica.

In the men’s room, you’ll find urinals made from beer kegs. They’re so cool, we’re tempted to listen to a portion of a country song.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

This is going directly to the top of our list of offbeat Las Vegas photo ops.

Also in the restroom are sinks made from tires. The faucets are gas pumps. Seriously charming.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

You’re welcome, Asian tour groups.

One of the best selling points of Redneck Riviera is it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.

The vibe is casual and often rowdy, the staff is friendly, and Redneck Riviera serves a niche clientele likely to stray from Toby Keith’s restaurant at Harrah’s and Gilley’s at Treasure Island to give this new honky-tonk hangout a try.

Next, we move to Born and Raised.

Born and Raised is an offshoot of an existing, locally-owned bar and pub. Named Born and Raised. Please try and keep up.

Born and Raised

St. Paddy’s Day seemed a good day to visit, hoochwise.

Born and Raised at Grand Bazaar Shops is technically named “Born and Raised CRAFT PUB.” Seriously. The “craft pub” is capitalized in all the media and marketing materials.

It’s as if Born and Raised suddenly contracted Tourette Syndrome.

Born and Raised has a tiny footprint, even by Grand Bazaar Shops standards. The bar has seating for about 14 people inside, with another 12 seats just outside.

Born and Raised

Born and Raised is so small you could fit it in your pocket. But don’t. That’s shoplifting.

While other Born and Raised locations in Las Vegas serve food, the Grand Bazaar Shops outpost does not. Which is probably for the best, as we recently had our first encounter with Born and Raised’s food, and it fell firmly into the “Meh” category.

Yes, “Meh” is a category. Other categories include “Mind-Blowing” (Pizza Rock, downtown), “Forgettable” (Beerhaus at The Park), “Regrettable” (The Still at Mirage) and “It’ll Do in a Pinch, Especially If We’re Wasted” (everywhere else on The Strip).

Born and Raised

We look forward to getting to know each and every Born and Raised cocktail personally.

Born and Raised offers a menu of signature cocktails, each runs $13. There is also beer, although we have never personally had a beer, so we aren’t able to comment upon the breadth or quality of the selection.

Finally, we get all up inside Giordano’s.

Giordano’s is a name that may sound familiar. The chain is known for its Chicago-style stuffed deep dish pizza.

Giordano's Las Vegas

Giordano’s sits astride a Starbucks that once announced it would serve liquor. Never happened, to our chagrin, whatever a “chagrin” might actually be.

Giordano’s has gone malls deep into Grand Bazaar Shops, with what amounts to three locations. There’s the second floor main restaurant, another dining area and bar on the ground level (fancifully called the Grand Allee walkway), and there’s also a walk-up window.

Giordano's Grand Bazaar Shops

The Giordano surname has its roots in “Yarden,” the Hebrew name of the Jordan river. Yes, we have exhausted our supply of photo captions.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it, Giordano’s is disappointing on any number of levels.

First, the wait time if you order pizza is agonizing. It took nearly an hour to get our simple cheese pizza, and the restaurant was pretty much empty.

During our wait, staff was sweeping up and mopping, one of our biggest pet peeves in any restaurant. (We were there two hours before closing time, but it was obvious employees were champing at the bit to close up shop.) Adding to the unpleasantness of our visit, staff members were moving chairs around the dining room not by lifting them, but by dragging them, lending the restaurant roughly the same welcoming ambiance as a smoke detector testing facility.

Giordano's Las Vegas

We predict only one of the Giordano’s spaces will survive. It’s anybody’s guess which.

It was only after our pizza arrived that the WTF began in earnest.

Stuffed pizza isn’t actually pizza, it turns out. It’s 14 pounds of melted cheese ladled onto a flaky, flavorless crust. A layer of sauce sits on the cheese, clearly embarrassed to be part of such a bastardization of the world’s greatest food.

Giordano's pizza

Fun fact: The word “no” is the same in English and Italian. Apply liberally at Giordano’s.

We’d love to say we’ll be back to try the thin crust pizza at Giordano’s, but why would we when there are so many other, far-more-worthy pizza offerings in the neighborhood? We’d hit Pin-Up Pizza at Planet Hollywood, Martorano’s at Paris or The Pizzeria (also known as “Secret Pizza”) at Cosmopolitan 100 times before doing Giordano’s again.

Sorry, but pizza is serious business, and what they serve at Giordano’s barely qualifies. It’s more like fondue, although that’s probably doing a disservice to fondue.

Here’s a better look at the Giordano’s menu, and here’s the pizza menu, because you wisely don’t blindly trust the opinion of blogs when it comes to pies.

If you love Giordano’s, we love hearing differing viewpoints. Or at least pretend to.

Giordano's Las Vegas

When it doubt, margarita.

It’s great to see Grand Bazaar Shops bringing in new talent. The mall seems to churn through tenants (mall management would owe harsh penalties to Caesars Entertainment, owners of Bally’s, if Grand Bazaar Shops falls below a certain percentage of occupancy), but a few successful bars and restaurants could give some of the millions of people who walk by each year a reason to stop.

It was recently announced Philly Pretzel Factory is coming to Grand Bazaar Shops later in the year. We’re struggling to contain our excitement.

Our friends at Eater Vegas say another restaurant will open across from Giordano’s patio bar, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. We’ve tried it, and we’re filing that one in the “Forgettable” category, too.

Hey, not everything’s going to stick. Only time will tell which venues will thrive or expire. In Vegas, change is always on the menu.

Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts New Venues

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Lappert’s Ice Cream is So Very Back at The California

Our favorite ice cream place in Las Vegas closed for a renovation, but Lappert’s Ice Cream is back and making us swoon all over again.

Lappert's Ice Cream

Second floor of The Cal, next to the Ethel M chocolate store, because your thighs deserve a vacation, too.

We’re sort of at a loss to say what’s changed about Lappert’s following its renovation, as the current shop is virtually indistinguishable from the previous incarnation.

The Cal Lappert's

Oh, just pretend you see a big difference. The last thing you want is ice cream with hurt feelings.

Something that’s definitely changed is the fact our favorite ice cream flavor is back, specifically, chocolate chip (not mint chocolate chip, that’s as blasphemous as pineapple on pizza).

Lappert's Ice Cream

And all was right with the world.

A couple of the display cases have been upgraded, and it’s possible the decor has been spruced up a bit, but otherwise, it’s the Lappert’s legions of devotees know and love.

The menu remains the same, and Lappert’s still serves up the best shaved ice in Las Vegas along with the best ice cream.

The Cal Lappert's hours

Let’s call this an “infographic.” The kids love infographics.

Downtown’s California casino has been undergoing dramatic changes in its casino, bars and restaurants in recent months. It’s estimated the hotel has invested $40 million in upgrades.

It seems there are more changes to come, and we sleuthed one upon entering The Cal. One of the neon signs, for Dave’s Aloha Bar, has gone dark.

Dave's Bar California

True Vegas fanatics will notice the Main Street Bar remains lit despite it having closed months ago. Sleuthing is an imperfect science.

We poked around a bit and were informed the bar has, indeed, closed, although it’s occasionally used for special events. We couldn’t get anyone to fess up about when, or if, it might be closed for good.

Dave's Bar California

The video poker machines at Dave’s Bar still function, but you’ll need to find a cocktail waitress to get your hooch.

It’s possible the bar is being phased out since the nearby sports book has moved to a new sports book and lounge downstairs.

California sports book

There are no traces of the former sports book at The Cal. Las Vegas is magical like that.

The California is about a block off of Fremont Street, and Lappert’s Ice Cream is well worth the short stroll.

We consider Lappert’s Ice Cream a Las Vegas must-do. Let us know if you agree. If not, keep it to yourself and think about seeking medical assistance because your taste buds may have taken a severe blow to the head.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 44: Axe Monkeys, Escapology, Pop-Up BBQ and More

This week’s installment of the Vital Vegas podcast has so much Vegas, you may have to loosen your belt.

For starters, we chat with one of the co-owners of Axe Monkeys, Barry Tell. Axe Monkeys is something new to do in Las Vegas, involving tossing sharp objects at targets.

Axe Monkeys Las Vegas

Curious where this photo was taken? We thought you’d never axe.

We also take listeners inside another Las Vegas diversion, Escapology. Escapology hosts a collection of escape rooms. Guests must solve a series of puzzles to escape their room in less than 60 minutes.

Escapology

This is about the only photo we could take at Escapology without ruining the surprises in store.

We also chat up Rex Bernales, the chef behind a new BBQ food truck in a unique location on Fremont Street, downtown. The new pop-up barbecue joint is in a demolition site, cleverly wedged between the former Mermaids and Glitter Gulch strip club.

Project BBQ

Time to give your drunchies a smack-down. With just three sandwiches to choose from, you won’t be overwhelmed with options.

Rest assured this episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast is loaded. Specifically, with tons of Las Vegas news and history. In case you thought we meant the other kind of loaded. Which is also entirely possible.

Dive headlong into our girthiest show yet, with exclusive interviews and insider scoop, all with a metric ass-ton of snark, just for good measure.

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