Category Archives: Downtown Las Vegas

Tasty-As-Hell Jared’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers Opens at Pawn Plaza

Pawn Plaza has been shuffling its deck of shops, with most of its restaurants closing in recent months. Now, it’s doubling down on classic American fare in the form of Jared’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers.

Jared's Hot Dogs & Hamburgers

Hungry? Oh, you will be.

Jared’s has taken up residence where Smoke’s Poutinerie used to be, right next to the closed Inna Gadda di Pizza. The delicious Rita’s Italian Ice also closed as well, but the owner of Jared’s, Jared DeBehnke, is undeterred.

If anything’s going to succeed at Pawn Plaza, we’d put our money on Jared’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers.

Fair prices. Scrumptious, fresh, tried-and-true favorites. Quick, friendly service. That’s a recipe for kicking ass in our book.

Jared's Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs and Hamburgers

Just like at the Downtown Container Park, Pawn Plaza’s shops occupy shipping containers.

The hot dogs at Jared’s are sourced out of a farm in Wyoming, but DeBehnke won’t spill about which one. We have our team of investigators on the case, though, because we’re calling these bad boys the best hot dogs in Las Vegas at the moment.

Jared's hot dogs and hamburgers

Our tastes are simple, and Jared’s knocks it out of the ballpark, frankly.

The hot dogs are 100% beef with a natural casing, and the chili is top-notch. There’s no cheese sauce, it’s grated fresh daily.

Jared's Pawn Plaza

Loved the chili, and we aren’t a chili person.

The burgers are excellent as well, and that’s saying a lot in a town where there are so many stellar hamburger joints.

The burgers are a third-of-a-pound, never frozen and the selection of a dozen or so toppings are included in the price. We enjoyed the mushrooms and onions, despite the fact we tend to like our burgers naked. Like our truth.

Jared's Pawn Plaza

Beyond the meats, we’re a big fan of the buns on both the burgers and the dogs. So much so, we’re currently licking our computer monitor.

Anything you’re able to get that you can dip into Jared’s Sauce, do.

It rocked our onion rings, but we suspect it would also be fantastic on the fries or tater tots, too. It’s a little bit honey mustard, a little BBQ. We’d put it right up there with the signature sauces at Chick-fil-A or Raising Cane’s.

Jared's Pawn Plaza

Yes, we made a Jared’s Sauce joke. Thank you for the courtesy laugh, Jared.

If Jared DeBehnke looks familiar, it’s because not only is his face on the signage, he’s the same guy who owns the Slingshot rental stand at Pawn Plaza.

When DeBehnke saw the space become available, he jumped a the chance to give a restaurant a go, and we’re happy he did, as it’s going into our lunchtime rotation.

Hear our interview with Jared DeBehnke on episode 41 of the highly-overrated Vital Vegas Podcast.

Jared's Pawn Plaza

Simple, yet all the bases are covered. Yes, that’s two sports analogies in one blog post. Hint: We’re drunk.

At the moment, Jared’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers has limited hours, during the aforementioned lunchtime, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. We suspect those hours will be expanded once positive word-of-mouth starts to spread.

For now, the only competition for Jared’s is the solid Rick’s Rollin Smoke BBQ & Tavern. The prices at Jared’s are roughly half of what Rick’s Rollin Smoke charges. Then again, Jared’s doesn’t have hooch.

Jared's Pawn Plaza

At Jared’s, it’s not about ambiance. You can’t slather mustard all over ambiance. At least not legally.

Here’s hoping the quality and prices at Jared’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers help it thrive as Pawn Plaza sorts out its line-up of shops and restaurants.

Jared's Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers

“Tasty-as-hell” apparently wouldn’t fit on the sign.

The throngs of visitors to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, featured in “Pawn Stars,” provide a steady supply of customers (DeBehnke says they’re getting lots of downtown denizens, too), but in the past, it’s been challenging to get them to stay and spend at Pawn Plaza. We’re thinking Jared’s Old Fashioned Hot Dogs & Hamburgers is a great reason to stick around.

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Construction Begins on 18 Fremont Resort (Las Vegas Club), World Almost Misses It

There were no fireworks, no gold-plated shovels, no mayoral Proclamations. There were none of the trappings of a Las Vegas resort groundbreaking, but it was, indeed, just that.

That tingling sensation you feel isn’t numbness resulting from sitting at a slot machine too long, it’s the excitement of knowing a long-awaited Las Vegas resort is finally in the works on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas. We’ve got all the exclusive scoop! Because having an “exclusive” is nearly as good as “having a life,” and that’s the story we’re sticking to.

Construction, or more accurately “deconstruction,” has quietly begun on a new hotel-casino from Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of Golden Gate and The D Las Vegas.

18 Fremont resort

“What construction?” you ask. We’re trying to build some suspense here, just play along for once.

Owner Derek Stevens has said he’s attended more than 50 design meetings for the new downtown resort. While it doesn’t have a name yet, its placeholder name is “18 Fremont.”

A modest demolition project, not easily seen by pedestrians on Fremont Street, marks the beginning of a major (and expensive) construction project which will make the new resort a reality.

The demolition is happening behind two closed shops, Blowout and Forever Flawless. Demolition crews are making quick work of the structure.

18 Fremont resort construction

Boom. Work on the next Las Vegas casino resort begins, sans hoopla, which would make a good band name.

Blowout and the Forever Flawless store (covering a tiny 0.08 acres) cost the Stevens brothers  a steep $13.5 million. Millionaires be crazy, as the kids say, but there was a method behind the madness.

The shops were a critical element of a series of acquisitions allowing for 18 Fremont to encompass a full block, spanning a stretch of Fremont between Binion’s and the Plaza casino.

18 Fremont casino

This is how the lot looked midday. Keep reading to see how it looked a couple of hours later. Suspenseful, right?

Mermaids and the Glitter Gulch strip club were also purchased by the Stevens brothers, along with La Bayou, currently site of an expansion of the Golden Gate casino.

The Stevens also acquired a parcel across the street from the Las Vegas Club, between Plaza and Main Street Station, for $7.5 million.

Yes, there will be a quiz.

18 Fremont construction

A couple of hours later and virtually nothing of the shops remains. They’re going to need a really big vacuum cleaner.

Why is the demolition of the Blowout and Forever Flawless shops so important to the 18 Fremont project? We won’t ruin the surprise. (Suspense!) All we can say is there’s equipment in motion at 18 Fremont and that’s enough to get us excited about what’s to come.

Derek Stevens and others involved in the project have been tight-lipped about specifics of the new resort, but Stevens has at various times hinted it’s likely to take downtown’s pool scene to a whole new level. On an episode of our podcast, Stevens described downtown Las Vegas as “underpooled.”

The casino will be the centerpiece of the resort, of course, but multiple restaurant and bar offerings will also be in the mix. Stevens has also said it’s likely the resort will have a spa, but relatively few specifics about the resort have been shared to-date. Hey, we’re working on it.

18 Fremont construction Las Vegas Club

Look closely. The shops are now see-through.

It’s anticipated one of the existing Las Vegas Club hotel towers will be demolished (possibly even imploded, this time with plenty of hoopla), and the other is likely to have more floors and rooms added. See below, in case that wasn’t the direction you were already going in.

las_vegas_club_towers_demolition

After watching failed casino projects like Alon, and seemingly stalled projects like Resorts World, it’s refreshing to see a Las Vegas casino project moving forward full steam ahead. Millennial translation: Nobody’s come up with a better way of saying “full steam ahead” since the steam engine, sorry.

18 Fremont demolition

Here’s a peek inside what was the Blowout gift shop. Their inventory now consists largely of debris.

This new resort represents not only hundreds of millions of dollars of investment, but also an entirely new place for us to drink Captain Morgan and diets and play Top Dollar. Just keeping it real.

Las Vegas Club demolition

The forever forgettable Forever Flawless. Anything that decreases the number of annoying salespeople chasing us down Fremont Street Experience (where we work in marketing as our day job) hawking face cream is fine by us.

Here’s a little help with where this demolition site is in relation to things you might recognize, specifically a strip club and some classic neon, including Vegas Vickie.

Las Vegas Club demolition

The good news is we can all start using “Glitter Gulch” again without feeling the urge to get a “Silkwood” shower.

Update (2/23/17): Things move fast in Vegas, and what a difference 24 hours can make. Here’s a photo to keep you abreast, and not just because we love using the word “abreast” as often as possible.

18 fremont construction

Did we mention these demolition guys don’t mess around?

It’s a pretty straight shot to Fremont Street now.

18 Fremont construction

Demolition guys must have really organized closets.

Demolition of the Blowout and Forever Flawless shops is expected to take just a few days (Feb. 24, 2017 is the expected completion date), but there’s much more in the works, so anticipate a cavalcade of security breaches in the months to come.

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Zydeco Po-Boys to Close in Downtown Las Vegas

Mere weeks ago, a downtown favorite, Glutton restaurant, closed its doors. Now, its neighbor, Zydeco Po-Boys has announced it, too, will shutter.

Zydeco Po-Boys closes on March 3, 2017.

Zydeco Po-Boys opened mid-2015, a partnership between its owner Brandon Trahan and Zappos CEO Tony’s Hsieh’s Downtown Project. The restaurant is located a block south of Fremont Street, on Carson Ave.

Zydeco Po-Boys

How do you say “This sucks” in that funky Cajun French talk?

The restaurant announced it will close in a Facebook post. The post read, “It’s with a heavy heart that I announce Zydeco Po-Boys will be closing its doors on March 3rd.”

The post from owner Brandon Trahan continues, “On behalf of my staff and I, we wish to thank Tony and the staff of Downtown Project for the opportunity to be part of the downtown revitalization. We wish to thank all of our loyal supporters who came out over the last year and a half to dine with us. It has been a pleasure to share my Cajun heritage and cooking with y’all. We wish the continued success of our friends and downtown neighbors and to all of the projects efforts.”

Zydeco Po-Boys closed

For awhile, Downtown Project dumped a ton of cash into businesses losing money. Now, not so much.

Zydeco Po-Boys served casual, reasonably-priced southwest Louisiana gumbo and po-boy sandwiches.

Trahan opened Zydeco Po-Boys after losing his home and business to Hurricane Rita in 2005.

Downtown has experienced a restaurant boom in recent years, but even a boom has casualties. Beyond Glutton and Zydeco Po-Boys, other downtown casualties include Itsy Bitsy Ramen & Whiskey (at The Ogden), Inna Gadda di Pizza and Smoke’s Poutinerie at Pawn Plaza and F. Pigalle on Fremont Street.

When it comes to Las Vegas restaurants, it’s dog eat dog, which, if you think about it, is a truly inane cliche. The original phrase was “Dog does not eat dog,” which makes a good deal more sense. We blame it on the millennials.

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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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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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How People Started Sitting at Slot Machines in Casinos

For the longest time, slot machines were the red-headed stepchild of casino gambling. They were the thing casinos had to offer to keep the wives of table games players (“real gamblers”) occupied.

It may sound absurd now, but in the early days of casino slot machines, players stood while they played. Which sucked in a number of ways.

Slot machines

Back in the day, everyone stood at slot machines. Probably because Top Dollar and Wheel of Fortune hadn’t been invented yet.

It’s believed a major turning point in how slot machines are played came about because of our human need to urinate. See, after feeding a slot machine for a period of time, players didn’t want to leave a machine to use the restroom for fear of losing their impending jackpot to another player.

Clever players began stealing chairs from nearby table games and took to leaning them against the slots to save their spot. This is a practice that continues today, despite it being incredibly annoying.

Slot machine leaning chair

On the Annoyance Scale, this is right up there with resort fees and cigars. Just stop.

It didn’t take long for customers to use the chairs to sit and play, thus changing the culture of slot machine play forever. Today’s slot machine chairs are plush and ergonomic, and many feature sophisticated sound systems and vibration functions to keep players engaged and entertained.

The folks at Binion’s in downtown Las Vegas claim they know the exact moment the practice of sitting at slot machines began.

In 1956, the Birdcage Casino opened at the corner of 1st Street and Fremont. The casino began offering customers a 10-cent keno slot, and the machines started raking it in. In response, Binion’s offered its own bank of 10-cent keno slot machines to compete with its neighbor.

It was inside Binion’s the practice of sitting down at slot machines began.

Today, slot machines account for as much as 85% of a casino’s revenue. One of the biggest measures of a machine’s profitability is known as “Time on Device,” or TOD, or the average time a gambler spends on a given slot machine.

Suffice to say, “Time on Device” has been increased immeasurably by the fact customers sit as they play.

Here’s another fun fact about Binion’s: It was the first downtown casino to get carpeting. How’d that happen? Presumably, a gambler ran up some debt with the casino’s owner at the time, Benny Binion, and repaid his debt by carpeting the joint.

Now you know!

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