Category Archives: Downtown Las Vegas

Neon Museum Receives Big-Ass Grant, Begins Demolition for Expansion

One of the best attractions in Las Vegas, the Neon Museum, has received a $425,000 grant for a major expansion.

With some additional cash in its coffers from the city of Las Vegas, the Neon Museum has acquired an adjoining .27-acre parcel, and demolition of the existing structure is under way.

Neon Museum expansion

Adios, gross building next to the Neon Museum’s awesome visitor center that also happens to have been the lobby of the historic La Concha Motel.

Demolition crews should make quick work of the building, the former L.A. Street Market, just south of the Neon Museum.

Here’s a better look at the whole shebang, a term we’re fairly sure hasn’t been used since 1961.

This is the first major expansion of the Neon Museum since it opened in 2012.

The expansion will allow the Neon Museum to display an additional 30-40 signs, currently in storage. The improvements will also include an open-air exhibit and events space. The Neon Museum expansion will be designed by SH Architecture.

Neon Museum expansion

Hey, architectural rendering dude, don’t leave a lovely lady on a bench all by her lonesome. Not cool.

The expansion will feature a covered patio canopied by a solar-paneled shade structure. Why one would need to power a shade structure, we have no idea. Then again we are a blog, not an architectural firm.

And let’s just say some of the signs in storage a fairly epic.

We captured this photo in an off-site storage area and it shows a huge section of one of the coolest Las Vegas casinos, ever, the Stardust. Yes, yes, there’s already a Stardust sign on display at the Neon Museum, but you can never have too many Googie stars.

Neon Museum storage

We told the folks at the Neon Museum we wouldn’t give away the location of this storage area, so this is all you’re getting.

Signs expected to make the migration from storage to public viewing are from the Las Vegas Club, Spearmint Rhino, Longhorn Casino, Sahara Saloon, Opera House Saloon and Riviera.

The Neon Museum is a nonprofit endeavor with more than 500 signs on display. The organization is dedicated to collecting and preserving iconic Las Vegas signs. And they occasionally let one slide that’s not particularly iconic. We’re looking at you, Spearmint Rhino sign.

As a nonprofit, the Neon Museum is often strapped for funding, so kudos to the City of Las Vegas for seeing the value of this invaluable treasure trove of Las Vegas history. Learn more about this must-do Las Vegas attraction.

The Neon Museum is expected to unveil it’s new space later this year, but it’s well worth visiting in the meantime.

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The Nerd Nightclub Poised to Open Discreetly at Downtown’s Neonopolis

A new nightclub and bowling venue, The Nerd, is set to open on March 30, 2017, at downtown’s Neonopolis shopping complex.

The Nerd Neonopolis

We grabbed this from a video. There’s a 65% probability it’s not the actual logo for The Nerd.

The Nerd hasn’t really been on the radar to-date, and publicity about the opening has pretty much been non-existent (perhaps intentionally), but this new nightlife concept could very well be a breath of fresh air at Neonopolis.

There’s a ribbon-cutting ceremony planned for 11:00 a.m. on March 30, and Mayor Carolyn Goodman is expected to attend.

Here’s the video invitation. Which we didn’t actually receive, officially. We’ll try and get over it.

Not too much is known about The Nerd, except it’s taking over the space formerly occupied by the wildly underrated Drink & Drag nightclub, a bar featuring (wait for it) drag queens.

The space includes a 12-lane bowling alley and dance floor, and The Nerd will presumably take advantage of both.

We caught a glimpse of some of the nightclub’s decor, and it appears “Breaking Bad” will play a part in the club’s decor.

The Nerd nightclub

If your club has a meth-making suit from “Breaking Bad,” you can consider us a fan.

From what we understand, employees had their first day of training on March 28. So, with an opening on March 30, it’s possible the establishment has made a conscious decision to keep its soft opening on the down-low.

We caught a group of servers leaving the venue, and they were universally attractive and dressed in white shirts and black shorts or skirts. Most of the employees sport suspenders to add to the nerdy theme.

The Nerd Las Vegas

Remember, it’s not creepy if you’re taking the photo for your blog.

In fact, The Nerd is going so incognito, there are no signs whatsoever outside the club, other than a legacy sign from Hi Life Lanes from back in the day. We overheard a sign is set to arrive any day now.

In the meantime, we’re honestly excited to have the Drink & Drag space back in action. It’s a challenging location for a business, but there are very few places to dance downtown, and this seems to fit the bill. Word is The Nerd is taking a lot of inspiration from the wildly successful Gold Spike, formerly a casino, but now a nightlife hangout for the cool kids that is pretty much printing money every weekend.

The Nerd is the brainchild of Jonathan Borchetta, owner of the Voodoo Zip Line attraction at Rio Las Vegas.

Here’s our recipe for success at The Nerd: Keep the price points right, adjust the music volume so we can hold a conversation, throw in some decent munchies and we’ll be there will our nerdy friends to drink, bowl and feebly attempt to dance the night away.

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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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Lit eSports Arena Opens at Downtown’s Neonopolis

We should probably say it right up front: It might be called “eSports,” but it’s not sports. In sports, there’s activity involved.

ESports, on the other hand, is competitive gaming, featuring things like sitting, the polar opposite of sports. In this context, by the way, when we say “gaming,” we’re not talking about the casino kind (gambling), we’re talking about the millennial kind, involving videogames like Halo, League of Legends, Counter-Strike and others.

Now that we’ve provided some context, a new eSports arena has opened in downtown Las Vegas at the Neonopolis shopping complex. Let’s blast something to smitereens.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

Note: Millennials don’t use the term “smithereens.”

The eSports arena is called, wait for it, “thE Arena.” We are not kidding. In the news release for the arena (which we are fully committed to never calling “thE Arena” again), says, “The ‘E’ stands for eSports, the ‘A’ stands for ‘arena.'”

Which is adorable, you have to admit.

The 15,000-square-foot facility, in a part of Neonopolis formerly occupied by movie theaters, officially opened March 3, 2017. The arena hosted a three-day Halo tournament to launch the new venue.

The eSports arena consists of two spaces. One area is a 200-seat arena that looks a lot like a movie theater, but with a dozen screens of varying sizes rather than one large screen.

eSports Arena Las Vegas

It’s fun watching other people have fun, isn’t it? Just like porn, but with controllers.

The other area is the Main Hall, which can accommodate 900 people.

That area (pictured below) can hold up to 15 “player stations,” with each of those having space for 14 players.

eSports arena Neonopolis

The percentage of females taking part in eSports has skyrocketed in recent years. Specifically, to about 2%.

The facility boasts an Internet speed of a gigabit, whatever that might actually be.

Approximately three miles of CAT cables were required to make the venue tournament-ready. From what we can tell, “CAT” stands for “Category 5.” Some people capitalize “CAT” to make it sound more important. Let’s just say it’s an Ethernet thing, and that’s a lot of cable.

The eSports arena at Neonopolis is impressive and was bustling with activity during our visit. There’s already evidence eSports can draw big numbers of people to a venue. Thousands of people, for example, filled the Mandalay Bay Events Center in 2016 for the North American League of Legends Championship Series Spring Finals.

eSports arena Las Vegas

Like we weren’t going to point out the fact we used “lit” in our headline ironically. Related: Get off our lawn.

Just about everyone in Las Vegas is hot to attract millennials, especially casinos, despite the fact millennials don’t seem all that into gambling.

For a long-struggling venue like Neonopolis, having large numbers of people in the building can presumably only help. A likely beneficiary of the new foot traffic, the Fremont Arcade, hasn’t seen any lift in business, but we did see a small group of gamers dining at Denny’s. From what we could tell, each ordered a glass of ice water, so there’s that.

Others brought their own water.

ESports millennials

Please join us in perpetuating a millennial stereotype, thanks.

We’re a big fan of new Las Vegas things, so we look forward to seeing the eSports arena flourish. Given the fact the Halo World Championship finals have a $1 million prize pool, we’re also excited to learn more about “containment protocol,” “orbital bombardments” and “Plasma Frag Rockets.”

Because while we may not personally get eSports, we are a huge fan of prize pools. In fact, if Megabucks isn’t careful, it might end up getting smithereened.

ESports Arena at Neonopolis

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Best Ice Cream Shop in Las Vegas, Lappert’s Ice Cream, Closes at The California for Renovation

Lappert’s Ice Cream at the California casino is our favorite ice cream shop in Las Vegas, and it recently closed for an overhaul.

Lappert's Ice Cream renovation

Just when you thought it was curtains for Lappert’s, it’s only temporary.

Lappert’s closed at the Cal on Feb. 7, 2017, and will open again at the end of March 2017.

Naturally, we stopped by for a security breach of this beloved enabler of our ever-expanding waistline.

Lappert's Ice Cream renovation

This is what it takes to make us stop eating Lappert’s ice cream for a minute.

Lappert’s is a hidden gem downtown. In addition to its stand-out ice cream, the shop also makes the best shaved ice in Las Vegas. Sometimes, the shaved ice is piled so high, it gives the Stratosphere an inferiority complex.

While the specifics of the Lappert’s upgrade haven’t been announced, we have our fingers crossed the renovation will include the return of our favorite flavor, chocolate chip.

If chocolate chip isn’t added back to the list of flavors, we’ll be forced to reduce our visits to a mere five times a week. No pressure, Lappert’s.

Lappert's Ice Cream California

If you ever want to make us weep openly, show us this photo.

The renovation of Lappert’s is the latest in a series of upgrades at the California hotel-casino. The entire casino has been renovated over the past year, as has the Cal’s registration area, Redwood Steakhouse and Aloha Specialties restaurant, just across from Lappert’s on the hotel’s second floor.

The Cal recently opened two new bars, the Holo Holo Bar and Cal Sports Lounge.

It’s rumored the California has invested more than $40 million in its renovations and new venues, which, coincidentally, is about what we personally spent on ice cream at Lappert’s during 2016.

When Lappert’s Ice Cream re-opens at the Cal, you can rest assured we’ll bring you (wait for it) the scoop.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 42: Food Critic John Curtas, Exclusive Scoop and Predictions from Pappy

It’s time to go ears deep into the latest episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast.

First, we congratulate ourself on reaching our first 100,000 podcast downloads! It’s more like 108,097, but who’s counting?

Also on the show, we share tons of scoop about construction commencing on the new 18 Fremont resort project. Demolition of two shops marks the official beginning of what will become a resort taking up a full block on Fremont Street, including the closed Las Vegas Club casino, Glitter Gulch strip club and Mermaids casino.

18 Fremont construction

Many great Las Vegas resorts have sprung from humble beginnings. This qualifies. Demolition of two shops has carved a path from an alleyway to Fremont Street. There’s a lot more to come.

You’ll also hear from veteran food critic John Curtas, co-author of “Eating Las Vegas,” the definitive guide to 50 essential Las Vegas restaurants. On his Web site, EatingLV.com, Curtas speaks his mind like few others in Las Vegas, and shares his picks for the best dining in Sin City, including his five favorite steakhouses.

As usual, you’ll get an earful of Las Vegas news and history, and the “Listicle of the Week” features 10 predictions about your next Las Vegas visit from special guest, Pappy.

Pappy

Think Zoltar, but more prospectory. Which may or may not be a word.

This week’s show has even more WTF than the Oscars, so break out the earbuds and roll around naked in a giant pile of Vegas.

Or something.

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