Category Archives: Downtown Las Vegas

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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Du-Par’s Restaurant at Golden Gate Closes Abruptly

A beloved downtown Las Vegas fixture, Du-par’s Restaurant & Bakery at Golden Gate, has closed.

Employees were informed of the closure mid-afternoon on Feb. 7, 2017, and the restaurant shut its doors permanently at about 6:30 p.m. the same evening. It was originally announced Du-par’s would close at midnight, but the plug was pulled early, probably due to drama surrounding the closure.

Du-par's Golden Gate closed

You broke the first rule of Las Vegas, didn’t you? You got emotionally attached!

The closing of Du-par’s is particularly shocking given its colorful history and ongoing popularity.

Du-par’s opened at Golden Gate in 2010.

Biff Naylor, son of “Tiny” Naylor (one of the 22 partners who purchased the Sal Sagev in 1955 and changed its name to Golden Gate), is the restaurant’s current owner. Rumor has it Naylor has bumped up against the IRS in a serious way, so the restaurant won’t be back.

Du-par's closed

Business tip: You don’t get to charge a sales tax, then keep it. The government’s picky like that. Bonus tip: It’s not particularly cool to give employees two hours notice they’re being cut loose.

In a short statement, the management of Golden Gate said, “A leased tenant of the historic hotel, Du-par’s had struggled with payments over an extended period of time.” Diplomacy at its finest!

The owner of Golden Gate, Derek Stevens, Tweeted he’s “sad/pissed” about the closing, and clarified the “financial reasons” for the closure have “nothing to do with the rent.”

Du-par’s has frequently been named as having the best pancakes in Las Vegas, and the restaurant’s shrimp cocktail is the stuff of Las Vegas legend. Golden Gate began serving its famous 99-cent shrimp cocktail in 1959.

Shrimp cocktail Du-Par's

The price crept up to $3.99 in recent years, but that didn’t make it any less devoured.

Du-par’s at Golden Gate was open 24/7, and won numerous accolades for its fare.

The closure of Du-par’s puts Golden Gate in a tight spot because Du-par’s was the hotel’s only dining option. The casino is wasting no time seeking alternative restaurant concepts for this sweet location at the west end of Fremont Street.

Du-par's closed Golden Gate

And, yes, we’re getting a little choked up writing about Du-par’s in the past tense. Don’t judge.

We’d suggest a rebrand to “Golden Gate Grill” until a new restaurant partner can be found. There’s nothing magical about shrimp and cocktail sauce!

No matter what’s next, Du-par’s will be missed by legions of fans who will have find at new way to wrangle their drunchies and get their pancake fix. (There’s Hash House a Go Go at Plaza and Denny’s just to the east, for starters.)

Du-par's pancakes

There were times we had to choose between sex and Du-par’s pancakes. The pancakes were delicious.

There’s another Du-par’s location at the off-Strip Suncoast casino. The fate of that location is unknown at the moment, mainly because we’re currently too drunk to call and ask. Word has it, though, the Suncoast location will remain in operation.

Update (2/9/17): In just 24 hours, all traces of Du-par’s are gone at Golden Gate.

Du-par's disappeared

The only constant in Las Vegas is WTF.

Share your Du-par’s memories in the comments, and not just because it creates the illusion people actually visit and read this Las Vegas blog. Probably.

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Jay Leno, Brad Garrett Taping on Fremont Street Accompanied by Drama

Comedians Jay Leno and Brad Garrett were spotted on Fremont Street taping an episode of CNBC’s “Jay Leno’s Garage.”

Jay Leno Fremont Street

Jay Leno hosted “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” from 1992 to 2009. He pretty much had to because the show had his name in it.

The duo drew quite a crowd on Jan. 27, 2017, as they interacted playfully with fans and showed off a vintage car, Brad Garrett’s 1948 Chrysler Town and Country.

Jay Leno's Garage

We have no idea if this is a 1948 Chrysler Town and Country. We are a blog, not a gearhead. Assuming those are still a thing.

The “Garage” segment was taped largely on Las Vegas Boulevard, just outside Hennessey’s Tavern and the Heart Attack Grill.

What you won’t read anywhere else is the behind-the-scenes drama that happened prior to the shoot on Fremont Street.

Jay Leno Brad Garrett

In the sequence, Jay Leno prodded the crowd to express their disdain for Brad Garrett putting a modern engine in his classic car. We expect this is very amusing to car people.

Originally, the sequence was supposed to feature the Heart Attack Grill restaurant in nearby Neonopolis.

The restaurant is known for its indulgent, high calorie food and quirky culture. For example, all customers are required to don hospital gowns before dining. Women dressed as “Naughty Nurses” spank customers who are unable to finish their meal, and one of the nurses, Lorren “Lola” Cackowski, is a little person.

heart_attack_can2

According to a rep of Heart Attack Grill, after a month of planning for the taping inside the restaurant, the production company (Original Productions) sent a message saying, “Jay let us know he doesn’t want to partake in any of the theatrics with nurses, little people or spanking.”

The owner of Heart Attack Grill insisted the shoot include the “theatrics” (although he concedes the spankings aren’t everyone’s cup of tea), so the deal was off. The plug was pulled and the shoot took place exclusively on the street.

Jay Leno

Someone should get to the bottom of whether Jay Leno has a problem with hospital gowns, spankings, little people or all three.

In any event, Las Vegas will feature prominently in an upcoming episode of Jay Leno’s Garage, and now you know the story behind the story. Or perhaps not behind so much as the story sidled up next to the story. Or maybe the story wedged like a thong in the donk of the story.

Enjoy more exclusive photos of Jay Leno and Brad Garrett in Las Vegas as we mull this over and get back to you on the whole metaphor thing.

Jay Leno and Brad Garrett On Fremont Street

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