Downtown Grand Las Vegas is Experiencing Significant Shrinkage

There’s a lot of news coming out of Downtown Grand, formerly the Lady Luck, and most of it doesn’t inspire confidence in the future of the floundering downtown hotel-casino.

Almost across the board, venues at Downtown Grand are paring back on hours, often closing down on certain days of the week due to a lack of business.

For starters, the hotel’s much-touted 888 Baccarat pit has shuttered. The tables have been replaced with slots, although the far wall is still adorned with mahjong tiles, a holdover from the failed attempt to woo Asian players.

888 Baccarat

The 888 Baccarat sign has lots its “Baccarat,” just as Downtown Grand appears to have misplaced its mojo.

The hours at the easy-to-miss Commissary Latin Kitchen have shrunk significantly. The restaurant now closes at 3:00 p.m. each day. Ouch. Note: The restaurant was originally called Commissary After Dark. Yeah, not so much.

Commissary

Time for The Commissary to get a new name, preferably something that doesn’t sound like an employee dining room at the Department of Building and Safety.

Once a 24-hour operation, The Spread deli in the hotel’s sports book now closes at 8:00 p.m. There’s still a 24-hour restaurant, Stewart + Ogden, though. A recently-revamped menu at Stewart + Ogden is one of the only bright spots at the hotel, although the price points are higher than what downtown regulars expect to pay.

The Spread

The Spread aspires to make people feel like they’re in a “1930s New York City deli.” No possible room for disappointment there.

The downsizing continues at Red Mansion, the hotel’s Asian dining offering.

The restaurant is now closed entirely on Monday and Tuesday. The rapidly-shrinking hours on Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday are 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Hours on Friday and Saturday are noon to 11:00 p.m. There wil l be a quiz. (We hear you can order Asian food from the Red Mansion menu in Stewart + Ogden when Red Mansion is closed, by the way. Worth a try, if that’s your thing.)

Red Mansion

You’d have better luck just using a blindfold and dart board.

The hotel’s lobby bar, Art Bar, now closes at 7:00 p.m. That one’s a shrinkage shocker. Where are we, downtown Las Vegas or Utah? (Update: The hotel says Art Bar closes at 10:00 p.m. We were there before 10:00, though, and it wasn’t open.)

Art Bar

There’s an art to closing things rather than improving them.

Don’t even get us started about Ninth Island, the hotel’s Hawaiian shaved ice and daiquiri counter. Presumably.

The last time we saw Ninth Island open was a week after Downtown Grand opened. The skuttlebutt is that because the counter serves alcoholic beverages, a real bartender is required, and real bartenders won’t work the counter because business doesn’t warrant it. Are we allowed to say “ouch” again?

The official site says Ninth Island is closed on Monday, with hours of noon to 8:00 p.m. Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

Ninth Island

Even when it is open, trust us when we say the shaved ice at Ninth Island is nothing like Hawaiian-style shaved ice. Head to The Cal for that.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment at Downtown Grand has been its smothering-to-death of what was one of this Las Vegas blog’s favorite places to hang out downtown, Mob Bar.

These days, the once-popular bar is only open two paltry evenings a week, Friday and Saturday, starting at 5:00 p.m.

Mob Bar

Who do we have to whack to get our Mob Bar back?

Here’s an example of the questionable decision-making going on at Downtown Grand. Although the Mob Museum would seem a natural partner or source of customers for Mob Bar, the bar’s two Mob Museum-facing doors are always closed and locked. Access can only be had by making a trek into the hotel lobby.

Mob Bar

We’d like to make your patronage of our establishment as inconvenient as possible.

Mob Bar was originally located across the street, and was connected to Triple George. (This whole block of offerings is owned by Fifth Street Gaming.) It had video poker and food. Now, it has the sound of a lone cricket. And even the cricket seems sort of bored.

There are so many seemingly simple steps Downtown Grand could take to make Mob Bar a destination again. First, bring back video poker! Drinks are even more delicious when they’re “free.”

Bring back food, even if it’s just appetizers. Lose the dueling pianos. If your live entertainment can’t be great, don’t have it. Related: Play good music. Our best advice is to have the person who picks the music for The D choose some music for Mob Bar. The D always feels like a party’s going on, and that’s what’s needed at Mob Bar. (The music advice, by the way, applies to the entire casino at Downtown Grand. It’s a buzzkill.)

Go back to having social media check-in specials. Overall, have better social media. Be real, interact, make it fun. Oh, and make sure there’s fast, free wi-fi.

Lower the drink prices.

It’s called the Mob Bar, do something with that. Officially partner with the Mob Museum. Give the joint a speakeasy vibe. Make people give a password to get in. Or make getting in feel important, like they do in the Laundry Room at Commonwealth.

Have themed nights with organized crime or Las Vegas history trivia contests.

Mob Bar

Taps should be flowing, not playing.

Want more? How about bringing in interesting things to do? Find games most other spots don’t have, the way Gold Spike has cornhole or The D has Sigma Derby. Ping pong. Foosball. Virtual golf or Jarts. Anything.

Steal ideas from Rose.Rabbit.Lie. at The Cosmopolitan, and make it an experience. Listen to what customers want, and give it to them. Including go-go bartenders. (Hey, at least one customer would like those.)

So, what do all these recent changes at Downtown Grand mean? They’re likely to signal upcoming changes in the management team (again).

Downtown Grand Las Vegas

Developments at Downtown Ground have pushed our optimism to its limits.

It’s sad to see this ongoing paring away of guest amenities at Downtown Grand, especially when it held so much promise after it opened.

Casino

Please, Downtown Grand, give us more reasons to call it a “casiyes,” despite the fact that is not currently a real word.

More news to come, and we hope it’s better news next time.

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  • Steven Brown

    The troubles at Downtown Grand are definitely a sign that they’re trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Some of the changes were unnecessary, as Mob Bar/Sidebar and Triple George had been chugging along quite nicely in the years before the Downtown Grand opened.

    Cutting back on the hours of the restaurants and bars within the Downtown Grand itself is a bit of double-edged sword. They’re having to cut the hours because they’re not getting a lot of traffic. But how are they going to get traffic into the place if most of the restaurants and bars are closed so early in the evening (or closed on certain days)?

    The reality is that the Downtown Grand may not even make it to its’ first anniversary if their fortunes don’t change. How do you get people to make the walk from Fremont Street if they don’t even know you exist? The marketing problems have been covered fairly well in the past and the marketing failures are just one of may missteps that have been made over there. For years, the Lady Luck was a bit of a running joke in regards to it ever opening again, and even when firm plans for the Downtown Grand were presented and real proof of work being done there emerged.

    It’s pretty telling when the owner of the property, CIM Group, doesn’t even list the Downtown Grand as one of their holdings on their website (Even Tamares, the foreign company that owns The Plaza and Las Vegas Club, lists them on their website as some of their holdings.). Other than replacing Fifth Street Gaming as the operator, their only other options are to close down or sell to someone else.

  • detroit1051

    Right after #VT10, I walked past Downtown Grand without noticing it while on my way to the Mob Museum. I then turned around and went in. Yes, it was mid-afternoon, but there were few people there, and there was no sense of fun or excitement. It must be even worse now. Doubt anything can save it at this point.

    • Steven Brown

      A few of us went over to Triple George for dinner after VT10 and there was a band playing up at Picnic and was likely playing to their friends as earlier reports during the weekend indicated the pool area was dead. There was probably more people at Pizza Rock and Triple George than in the casino at Downtown Grand.

      • Yeah, Picnic was supposed to revitalize the place. It hasn’t. Lots of potential, though.

  • orbitrocks

    They probably have the best collection of spaces in all of downtown, yet they do nothing to help themselves to make it work… Wish they had some management over there that was willing to think outside the box to make it all work… Scott… All of your suggestions were great… Maybe you should get a part time position over there showing them what to do! Do they pay into the Fremont Street Experience? I’m guessing not since they are not featured on vegasexperience.com…

    -JW

    • Steven Brown

      They’re not a member of the Fremont Street Experience, and that is one of many issues that Vegas Gang discussed about them in recent episodes (Even Five Hundy By Midnight has weighed in on the subject as well.). A few of the VT10 attendees stayed at the Downtown Grand and one of them had to make their own “Do Not Disturb” sign because one was missing from the room.

    • No, they’re not part of the Fremont Street Experience, although they would probably benefit from joining. There’s a lot of marketing oomph behind FSE and its partner casinos, because FSE is supported by the LVCVA. No membership, no oomph, and lots of floundering.

  • JeffinOKC

    I loved the place when we stayed there in March. My favorite stay in the 30 trips we’ve taken in the last 10 years. Loved the room, the lobby, the casino, the food. Just everything. My wife loves it even more than I.
    But…
    My fear is that a place that has (to me) a classy, Downtown version of Wynn-upper end cool and gets the love from 55 year old (me, not my wife) Okies might not be a draw for a large market. I wonder if my tastes are off? Or maybe it plays to another view I have:
    Seth Schorr doesn’t care. I follow Schorr on Twitter and I think that as a young man he should be hooked into the positive impact of social media as a marketing tool. But, I never see him post anything having to do with the Downtown Grand. His posts are almost always pictures of his family doing something fun, or interesting, in some other part of the country, or world. In California, New York, Israel, China or Europe. It gives me the impression that he is very interested in living the Steve Wynn type “Successful Casino Owner Jet Set Life”. Maybe I’m being an old grump, but I would like to see him give the impression that he also wants to the a relentless grinder and self promoter like Wynn and every other successful casino owner I know of were during their 30s through 50s.
    I just feel that there is some kind of disconnect between the actual property, the management and the marketing. A picky example: Last week the Sun web site ran a Johnny Kats feature about the Downtown Grand. It had good quotes from Schorr and a nice review of the property. It ran as it’s lead picture a photo with a caption along the lines of “Seth Schorr among the gamblers at the Downtown Grand opening in October”. This was the picture of Steve Wynn in the shooter spot at the craps table when he was throwing out the ceremonial first roll! Where was the mention of Steve Wynn coming Downtown for the first time in years? Or of Andrea Wynn and Steve Wynn right hand man (as well as Seth Schorr’s father) Mark Schorr being in the same pic? Or of the obvious parental endorsement from a Las Vegas legend that the picture portrays? Talk about burying the lead!
    The Downtown Grand marketing always gives me the feeling that- They’re really cool. Their management is really cool. Their property is really cool. Their promotions are really cool. Their F&B is really cool. Their friends are really cool. They aren’t sure if they want me as a friend. But, if I want to give them money it would be OK. Maybe.

    • Steven Brown

      Their social media department completely failed in regards to the first roll at the craps table. Steve Wynn actually let his wife make the first roll (as confirmed by some of the local media wags), but the Downtown Grand the entire time was saying Steve Wynn made the first roll despite being presented with the truth. Just the first of many screw ups the people running it have made.

      • Yeah, pretty sure they use a PR agency for a lot of what they do. That’s death in social media, in our humble opinion.

  • Aaron Erdman

    I love the Downtown Grand but it needs someone like Derek Stevens to take control of the place. Someone who listens and knows what people want/have fun when visiting Vegas. The place has no excitement. I was disappointed the moment I stayed in Feb dropped my bags off in the room and went to the casino floor. I sat at a table and asked about getting a shave ice/daiquiris. No one was at Nineth Island and no one could tell me if or when it would be open. This was just the start of things I was excited about but was let down. I will stay here again but only for the rooms and it being near Pizza Rock/Fremont Street. Vast majority of my money is spent elsewhere…

    • Agreed. They’re having a problem creating the right mojo.

  • 60gregma .

    The real problem here is that they have marketed themselves to a demographic that only exists in their marketing materials. It all started with that goofy “King to dt3”
    and “Queen to dt3” signage they had on their buildings before they opened. Those huge murals could have simply read “opening” “soon” and been more effective. Speaking of marketing to non-existent demographics, I wonder how SLS will fare. SLS seems like DTG only bigger and douchier.

    • Steven Brown

      Their ads seem to be more for a shopping center as opposed to a hotel.

  • Jefe

    I find it hard to believe Stewart+Ogden will be open 24 hours for much longer. I’ve stayed at the DG four times in the past few months and I never saw the place more than half full. Most of the time it was empty, as in not a single customer at a table. This is bad. I’d like to say that the DG will eventually catch on but I just have this gut feeling that the place is doomed to fail. I don’t think the people at the top know what they’re doing with this place.

    • Sounds like Red Mansion is being folded into it, and the Spread is closed. They can’t not have a 24-hour restaurant, so this is likely to be it.

  • MAKNYC

    How about the fact that they charge for self parking unless you are staying at the hotel? Last I heard the gaming business has become overwhelmed with new entrants domestically….raising the price of admission for me to give them my money? I think not.

    • Steven Brown

      More Fremont Street properties are doing that as well. The parking lot by Main Street Station and the Cal recently started charging non-hotel guests and Binion’s has done away with free parking unless you’re gambling there or eating there.

  • Bill Brash

    My wife & I have just returned from downtown Vegas. We travel from England & stay for 2 weeks each time. We visited the DG shortly after it opened & commented then how poor the slot, table & VP pay outs were. I felt that some bean counting accountant was attempting to recoup some of the vast cost of opening, by offering lower odds on all gaming.
    This time we again tried the DG, (twice!) sadly nothing has changed, a $20 bill in the slots, is still gone in seconds, it still 6 to 5 for blackjack & the VP is still poor.
    Any new venture should initially be offering MORE than the existing, established, competitors, in order to build up a regular client base. Especially when the property is not directly on Fremont.
    Like many folk on here, we cannot see a bright future for the DG, unless chages are made.
    Downtown is still all about gambling, the DG fails to attract gamblers at any level.

  • LasVegas7711

    Holy cow they got me in a picture eating at the Spread

    • Wow. That was random. Yours was the last meal before it closed!

      • LasVegas7711

        The funny and ironic part is that picture was from way back on the Opening Day of Downtown Grand Oct 27th

  • PaulR1

    lets wait and see…use the empty lot next to the mob museum for guest even for the employees so they dont have to park at the old bus terminal where the homeless people spent their time…..