To say downtown’s Pawn Plaza is going through a rough patch would be an understatement. A startling four shops have shuttered at Pawn Plaza in just a week’s time.
Pawn Plaza is a shopping complex fashioned from shipping containers, an idea inspired by downtown’s Container Park. Pawn Plaza sits next to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop made famous in TV’s “Pawn Stars.”
It’s like Piet Mondrian humped a container ship. Or something.
It seems Pawn Plaza is going through the same kind of growing pains Container Park experienced, just all at once.
Here’s a rundown of the casualties.
The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop gets a huge number of Canadian visitors, so it made sense to have an eatery featuring this popular Canadian dish. No such luck. Smoke’s Poutinerie was the first of the four shops to close.
We quite enjoyed whatever it was we ate here.
Inna Gadda di Pizza
The closing of Inna Gadda di Pizza came as a surprise because of the restaurant’s pedigree. The shop was run by some of the same folks who opened the popular Pizzeria at Cosmopolitan (often called “Secret Pizza”). The pizza was okay, but given the choice between Inna Gadda di Pizza and the excellent Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ, it was no contest.
“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” translates roughly as “The Garden of Life,” further proof you learn a metric ass-ton of useless stuff writing a blog.
Pawn Donut and Coffee Shop
The Pawn Donut and Coffee Shop was managed by the company behind Inna Gadda di Pizza. The doughnuts were solid and the prices were good. It’s likely this small shop could hold its own, but when Inna Gadda di Pizza pulled up stakes, it was a package deal.
“Folks, we’re closing the shop, so we have to move everything out.” “All right, I’ll get a shoe box.”
Las Vegas Flip Flops
It’s a shock a flip flop store would fail given the huge public demand for, you know, flip flops.
You will be missed, Las Vegas Flip Flops, by both of your loyal customers.
It’s been reported businesses at Pawn Plaza have been struggling overall, with disgruntled shopkeepers claiming the shopping center’s failing to meet their expectations.
Pawn Plaza’s PR team says, rightly, it’s the nature of the business that some stores will survive, others won’t.
The Gold & Silver Pawn shop continues to draw throngs. Just walk over to Pawn Plaza and buy something, people. It’s 14 feet away.
Pawn Plaza says it looks forward to announcing new tenants soon. Then again, what else are they going to say?
Is Pawn Plaza worth a stop? Of course! Did we mention Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ? It has a bar. ‘Nuff said. Bonus: “Pawn Stars” star Rick Harrison even tends bar there most Friday and Saturday nights.
Oh, and try Rita’s Italian Ice and Custard. The frozen custard is amazing, but just make sure it’s custard you’re getting because of the occasional egg shortages. It’s a thing.
First, the custard is spectacular. Second, our future as a hand model is assured.
We’re rooting for Pawn Plaza to find a new batch of shops to fill out its roster. Pawn Plaza is a colorful addition to a blighted part of downtown. It’s just a matter of finding the right mix of shops and not relying solely on pawn shop visitors to support them.
The Park, a mid-Strip restaurant row from MGM Resorts, has been in the spotlight a lot lately. Its four new restaurants are a perfect complement to the new T-Mobile Arena and upcoming Park Theater. Read more.
But the Linq promenade from Caesars Entertainment isn’t going down without a fight.
The Linq promenade, a dining and entertainment mall located between the Flamingo and Linq hotels, is in the throes of a bona fide renaissance, including a slew of intriguing new diversions, edible and otherwise. Even the under-performing High Roller observation wheel is showing
signs of new life!
It’s time to revisit the Linq promenade, end-to-end, to see what’s new and what’s in the works.
1. Center Strip Box Office
This giant box office is adorned with any number of video screens and it quite the eye-catching new addition to the Linq mall. We’re not sure which tickets you can purchase here, but the most prominently-displayed shows are those at Caesars Entertainment resorts. One word of caution:
You may see the word “Concierge,” but beware. In recent years, concierge services are often thinly-disguised ticket hawkers pushing shows that aren’t the best in quality, but rather those that pay the largest commissions. See more of the concierge outsourcing ugliness.
“Caveat emptor,” which is Latin for “keep one hand on your wallet.”
2. Amorino Gelato
A new gelato shop is under construction, taking a spot previously used by a retail shop. This chain got its start in Paris, and has a lot of promise.
This blog loves it some gelato.
3. Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips
This long-awaited new fish and chips shop is finally being built and is expected to open in fall 2016. The space was formerly a Purple Zebra slushy drink store. No, Chef Ramsay won’t be making your fish and chips personally, but he’ll show up occasionally. It’s the law.
Don’t freak out. Purple Zebra slushy drinks are still available inside the Linq hotel.
4. Shadow Dancers at O’Sheas
This is our most exciting exclusive in ages. The exterior of O’Sheas at the Linq hotel now features shadow dancers! Fans of the previous incarnation of O’Sheas (a self-contained casino rather than a casino within a casino) will recall O’Sheas had shadow dancers of its own, in
the windows facing Las Vegas Boulevard. These aren’t quite as R-rated (they seem to be animated, as opposed to using human models), but they’re still worth a peek.
We love this titillating nod to the original O’Sheas!
Oh, all right, here’s some video. Freak.
5. Kitson’s Replacement
It was quite a blow to the Linq promenade when one of its anchor retail shops, Kitson, closed. The Kitson sign hasn’t come down, but there’s a new store in the space. It’s a giant gift shop, not quite as quirky as Kitson, but a seamless replacement in a prominent spot in the mall.
We asked what the name of the Kitson replacement is, but an employee said it doesn’t have one. Let’s get on that.
6. Amazon Locker
We’re not entirely sure what an Amazon Locker is, but the Linq promenade has one. The Internet says Amazon Lockers are a way for Amazon customers to get their purchases without having them shipped to a home or business address. While this seems useful, we’d rather make
some snarky comment about how the whole thing reeks of “How do I get sex toys in Las Vegas without going to a creepy adult store or packing them in my suitcase?”
Oh, great, something new for us to be stuffed into.
7. Virgil’s Real Barbecue
We had such high hopes for the F.A.M.E. Asian market, but it took a nosedive. Virgil’s Real Barbecue will soon take its place. Virgil’s comes from the folks behind Carmine’s, a great Italian place at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Again, this holds promise.
Virgil’s is expected to open in fall 2016, so you know where you’ll find our face, slathered with BBQ sauce, right around that time.
When we broke the news In-N-Out was coming to the Linq promenade, little did we know it would be one of our biggest stories of 2015. Now, construction is under way, and we’re predicting this newest In-N-Out location will provide a much-needed boost to the Linq mall. We feel a little badly for its neighbor, Flour & Barley, but in Vegas, only the strong survive.
Expect lines. Expect friendly service. Expect Bible verses on the bottom of the drink cups. We’re eating there, anyway.
9. Exotic Car Rental
We didn’t see that coming. Apparently, you can now rent exotic cars, including Lamborghinis, at the Linq promenade. A sign says prices start at $399, for four hours. There’s even an exotic car on display on the mall.
Sort of a bummer for Governors.
10. Urban Turban
Boom, another exclusive, and that’s the story we’re sticking to. A popular Indian restaurant in Las Vegas, Urban Turban, will soon open a kiosk at the Linq promenade. The stand will offer a slimmed-down version of the restaurant’s menu, including favorites like lamb, butter chicken, tandoori chicken and others.
We may break stories, but we don’t break details. You’ll figure it out.
The Linq mall has made good on its promise to update its wall-sized murals from time to time. There’s a whole new batch of murals from local artists. They make a great free photo op for the tourists.
Just in time for “Sharknado 4,” three minutes of which took place in Las Vegas.
12. Lines at the High Roller
One of the most surprising new things at the Linq promenade has to be, wait for it, lines at the High Roller observation wheel. The world’s tallest observation wheel has struggled with ridership numbers since it opened, but Caesars Entertainment continues to aggressively promote it, and it appears those efforts may be bearing fruit. While the wheel’s operators won’t admit it, we credit a truly strange story for raising awareness about the High Roller internationally. Hey, whatever works.
Photo & Go isn’t completely new, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to do a listicle with just 14 things on it, thank you very much O.C.D. Photo & Go originally opened in a different location in the Linq promenade as the Polaroid Fotobar. Photo & Go is a downsized version of the store, with a focus on allowing customers to print photos from their smartphones onto a variety of tsotchkes.
If casinos want to appeal to Millennials, they should invent a slot machine that also prints photos from smartphones onto tsotchkes. You’re welcome.
14. C & E Studio
It’s some kind of art gallery, with a selection of upwards of a dozen “urban art pieces” we probably can’t afford. Let’s just say you shouldn’t get too emotionally attached to this shop.
The gallery hosts street artists out front. Spraycan art is surprisingly popular in Las Vegas, with a typical piece selling for $40-50.
15. Canter’s Deli
Last but not least, it’s Canter’s! Yes, yes, we broke the story of Canter’s coming to the Linq promenade last year, too, but not everything has to be about us. Canter’s will take up residence in what was previously a part of the High Roller ticket office. The opening date of Canter’s has been pushed back a time or two, but with everything going on at the Linq promenade, we have high hopes it will open soon.
Canter’s Deli has a long and impressive history we didn’t have time to look up.
That’s it! Everything you need to know about what’s happening at the Linq promenade and probably more.
Given the bumpy history of this very pleasant pedestrian mall, we love all the fresh activity and look forward to trying the plethora of new offerings. And not just because we’ve been waiting two years to use the word “plethora” in a blog post. Probably.
In this thrilling last episode of Season One of the Vital Vegas Podcast, we stroll the length and breadth of downtown’s Pawn Plaza.
Pawn Plaza is the brainchild of Rick Harrison, the star of reality juggernaut, “Pawn Stars.” The Container Park-inspired collection has restaurants, shops and a bar, and is well worth a stop, especially because of the bar thing. The other parts a nice, too.
Pawn Plaza is the first place we ever had poutine. Think loaded potato skins, but more popular with Canadians.
Also in this episode, we blow through “15 Crazy-Ass Things in a Las Vegas Weekly Story With Andrew Fonfa, CEO of the Financially-Beleaguered Lucky Dragon Resort.” Here’s the story in question.
Because we’re the podcast that goes the extra mile, we also talk about how we became 32% Irish this week. No, really.
Shockingly, there’s a fourth episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast. We did not see that coming.
In this week’s episode, we cover a lot of ground.
There’s an interview with comedian and juggler Jeff Civillico. The Flamingo headliner has a new TV show about Las Vegas, and the show is produced in a shipping container that sits on a water fountain at Linq promenade.
“Las Vegas Good News” host Jeff Civillico interviews a Brooklyn Bowl performer whose name we would convey if we were a note-taking type person.
Visit the Las Vegas Good News Web site, watch for the show in your hotel room or on Channel 13 (the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas) and make sure to keep an eye on Chelsea Phillips-Reid, one of Civillico’s bevy of co-hosts. Her pre-taped, “Daily Show”-style interview (back when “Daily Show” was funny) with a Gilley’s chef was a stand-out on the episode we attended.
We also chat with Seth Debowy, an entrepreneur whose company, Vegas Felt Co., makes clothing from salvaged casino table felt. Debowy provides an insider’s look into the process of developing his line of collectible clothing, and shares a few felt secrets, too.
For example, the vast majority of casino tables don’t actually use felt. We also learned if a high roller requests it, casinos will give them the table felt after their play. And also possibly cocktail servers.
Take little piece of your favorite casino table game home with you.
Also on the show, we give our imbicilic take on the latest Las Vegas news, share some Las Vegas history (Barbary Coast closed this week back in 2007, now it’s the Cromwell) and drop the usual exclusives, including the fact Cosmopolitan resort is on the precipice of rolling out a drink voucher system at all its casino bars.
Like many classic Vegas casinos, Barbary Coast had catwalks where security could peer down on tables to watch for cheats. This rare pic shows the peep holes.
Don’t miss some great listener questions: What’s the most trouble we’ve gotten into for a security breach? What’s a recommended panty-dropper cocktail? What are our five favorite video poker bars? All that and much, much less.
Oh, in the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s popular “Mean Tweets” segment, we read mean reviews of our podcast. Out loud. Somebody’s got to do it.
This iTunes review is a definite highlight: “End this abortion of a show before you lose all credibility.” Honestly, that’s an insult to abortions.
There’s a dizzying number of new things coming to the space between New York-New York and Monte Carlo, so we thought it about time to share some photos, video and a few words to keep those things from slapping into each other.
First up, here’s a look at the current state of the Las Vegas Arena, also called the T-Mobile Arena. This 20,000-seat gem is going to be a magnet for sports and concerts, and it looks like a million bucks.
Actually, the Las Vegas Arena looks like $375 million bucks, but who’s counting?
The arena’s seats have been installed, a far cry from just a few months ago when we popped in to take another metric ass-ton of photos.
Now, a mesh video screen is being installed on the arena’s eastern face.
That one dude, though.
Here’s a closer look at both the mesh installation and the dude.
We caught the first test of the Las Vegas Arena’s video screen at night, and it was very what you might call “T-Mobile magenta.”
The Las Vegas Arena opens April 6, 2016, with a show by The Killers as a kick-off.
Here’s a peek behind the arena.
At this point, you may be obsessing over a construction site a tad too much. Somebody needed to say it.
Note that there’s a new ramp jutting out of the New York-New York parking lot (at left) to help ease traffic congestion.
There’s another bridge connecting the parking garage and the arena.
You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to scaffold ’em.
Outside the Las Vegas Arena, concrete is being poured.
We trust these wooden thingys are where concrete is being poured. For all you know, they could be called “thingys,” so don’t get snippy.
The Park is beginning to look more like a park.
The Park, of course, is a pedestrian promenade that runs from Las Vegas Boulevard to the arena.
The Park could very well mark the return of promenading, once popular with square dancers. Oh, like you’re reading all this gibberish, anyway. Just look at the pictures.
MGM Resorts has invested a lot of time and money creating a diverse collection of desert-adaptive plants people will soon stroll right by on their way to the hooch.
Seriously, though, MGM Resorts has spent a lot of time thinking about all this.
The Park will have “breathtaking monumental shade structures, theatrical lighting, dynamic water features and meta-quartzite stone sourced from a local quarry.”
How we’ve managed to enjoy the Las Vegas Strip prior to it having some meta-quartzite stone, we’ll never know.
The Park will be lined not only with trees and shade structures (more on those in a minute), but also shops and restaurants and bars, especially bars.
The Park will have a gourmet waffle restaurant, Bruxie, a sushi restaurant, Sake Rok, a beer garden and other dining and drinking options.
The Park will also boast a Robert Mondavi Jr. Wine Experience, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row and Cuba Libre, a Havana-style restaurant and bar. Read more about the Las Vegas newness.
Check out our photo gallery below for more photos of the storefronts.
Before we move on, MGM Resorts has finally gotten around to confirming some news we reported exclusively a few weeks ago. A 40-foot-tall naked woman will soon be erected in The Park. The sculpture is called Bliss Dance, and “erected” is right. Read more.
That’s a palm tree. She’s not European.
The Bliss Dance sculpture is the work of artist Marco Cochrane and was originally created for the Burning Man Festival. It weighs about 7,500 pounds, took 10,000 hours to build and will be lit up by 3,000 LED lights.
The Bliss Dance statue will be installed at The Park on Feb. 29, 2016, making future anniversaries of the installation few and far between.
Now, about those shade structures. They don’t appear to have an official name, but they’re a distinctive element of The Park.
The ear trumpet structures were built by IHC Studio Metalix in the Netherlands, a ship-building company. Each structure took an astonishing 2,000 hours to complete. Naps and smoke breaks are apparently very popular in the Netherlands.
The 16 flower-inspired colander cones range from 55 feet to 75 feet in height. Hey, one of these names is going to stick, and we’d prefer it be ours.
Each of the botanical bugles has about 1,200 holes, which are intended to cast patterns on the ground.
Shade is going to become a critical part of The Park experience, especially given the fact Las Vegas becomes a massive kiln during the summer months (typically, March 1 through November 30). Which is why outdoor spaces are a relatively recent phenomenon in Las Vegas. Because things tend to shrivel up and blow away there. The good folks at MGM Resorts haven’t talked about that too much in their news releases, for some reason.
That said, the holey tulips are striking, and truly come to life at night. Take a look.
The average weight of each structure is between 12 and 20 metric tons, depending upon where it had lunch.
At night, the structures will glow, and the colors will change on the quarter hour, commonly known as “every 15 minutes,” or about the time it takes this blog to have sex 15 times.
While already lovely, the thousands of LEDs that will illuminate the structures haven’t even been installed yet!
These impressive structures should be a popular new photo op on the Las Vegas Strip.
The Park is set to open April 4, 2016, a couple of days before the Las Vegas Arena debuts.
Here’s a little video to help give you an idea of where everything is. Please note the large steel structure attached to the side of Monte Carlo. We’ll be talking about that next.
While much of the focus has been on the arena and The Park, quick work is being made of a new 5,000-seat theater at Monte Carlo.
The new Monte Carlo theater is about the size to give The Colosseum at Caesars and Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood a run for their money.
Here’s another look at the Monte Carlo theater (whose existence was first reported in this very blog, of course), although it won’t be called the Monte Carlo theater when it opens in late 2016. Monte Carlo is getting a new name, so the theater will follow suit.
Monte Carlo’s new theater necessitated Blue Man Group getting the boot to Luxor, which necessitated Jabbawockeez getting the boot to MGM Grand. Never a dull moment in Vegas.
Monte Carlo’s new name remains a delicious Las Vegas mystery.
Please feel free to dive headlong into our gratuitous, showboaty photo gallery of pics from the Las Vegas Arena, The Park and Monte Carlo theater. We can’t wait to see our first shows at the arena and Monte Carlo theater, and are truly looking forward to promenading at The Park in the shade of giant, honeycombed cactus blossoms. Or whatever.
MGM Resorts has set April 4, 2016 as the opening date for The Park, its new dining and
entertainment district between New York-New York and Monte Carlo.
You go, two billion construction dudes.
How fast are things moving? Two weeks ago, that structure on the left didn’t exist.
The entire area in and around The Park, including the new Las Vegas Arena and Monte Carlo
Theater, is bustling with activity. Thankfully, the New York-New York parking garage
provides a great vantage point to capture photos of the all the latest developments.
This area outside the Las Vegas Arena will have live music. Several repeater towers were pilfered from the Rock of Rio USA site.
MGM Resorts is touting The Park as the “Las Vegas Strip’s first park,” although that’s
only really true if you have a short memory. There was actually a park outside Bally’s,
complete with trees, foliage and a water feature. That park was demolished to make way
for the spectacularly repugnant Grand Bazaar Shops.
The Park at the Las Vegas Arena (official name: T-Mobile Arena, but we don’t like the
sound of that as much) will have a mix of restaurant and bars, as well as live
Some of the offerings won’t be opening April 4, but there should be enough to make The
Park worth a visit, with more venues opening in the weeks and months to follow. The
20,000-seat Las Vegas Arena opens April 6, 2016.
A new ramp from the New York-New York parking garage back on Jan. 10.
Here’s the new ramp now.
The Las Vegas Arena cost $375 million, or basically what this Las Vegas blog spends on Captain Morgan each month.
A distinctive element of The Park are its signature trumpet-shaped sculpture thingys.
(Not the technical name. They don’t seem to have a technical name.) At night, the
sculptures will “emit marvelous LED sequences from high above, captivating guests below.”
Never change, Las Vegas news releases. Never, ever change.
To our highly-trained eye, these art pieces resemble the trumpet-leaf pitcher plant, or “Sarracenia flava.” And by “highly-trained,” of course, we mean “drunker than an Amish teen on Rumspringa.”
MGM Resorts has ponied up a list of restaurants opening by April 4, including Shake
Shack, Beer Garden, California Pizza Kitchen, Sake Rok and Bruxie.
The vastly over-hyped Shake Shack opened at New York-New York on Dec. 29, 2014. From the
looks of MGM Resorts’ announcement, there will be an affiliated location inside The Park district somewhere.
The Beer Garden, currently a thing in Las Vegas (there’s another Beer Garden opening at
Paris Las Vegas on Jan. 30, 2016), will offer “farm-to-table meats” (also currently a
thing in Las Vegas), “an impressive regional craft brew list” (also a thing), live music
(always a thing) and games like darts, bocce ball and ping pong (so much of a thing it’s
not even funny).
We have no idea how we’re going to get photos of the buildings at The Park. Thanks a lot, trees.
The reliably good California Pizza Kitchen should also be open by April 4. The CPK at The
Park will have an outdoor patio, easily the most popular kind.
Sake Rok will serve up Japanese cuisine. At night, “Sake Rok will transform into a high-
profile social dining extravaganza, immersing guests in an experience part culinary, part
performance and completely unexpected.” And you know what? We’re going to go there,
Oh, wait, interactive servers will “double as entertainers, spontaneously breaking into
dance and lip-sync serenades.” Well, we’re definitely going to the Beer Garden!
There’s a lot of new on the Las Vegas Strip. NHL expansion team announcement soon, too, promise.
There’s also Bruxie, a fast-casual, gourmet waffle restaurant. The description of the
food sounds delicious, and reviews are good for the California locations. Looking forward
ot this one.
Beyond the dining and drinking, MGM Resorts has spent a good deal of time thinking about
the landscaping at The Park. Visitors into horticulture should enjoy discovering all the
various plant life including santolina, apache plum, mormon fir, red yucca, torch lily,
desert bear grass, Mexican feather grass, orange sedge, blue agave, golf tooth aloe and
horsetail. Our keyboard’s copy and paste function has rarely come in this handy!
Eat. Drink. Perambulate. Repeat.
All kidding aside (don’t count on it), The Park should provide lots of delicious new diversions on the Las Vegas Strip.
As if the new arena and The Park weren’t enough, Monte Carlo is building a fancy new theater. The long-awaited announcement of a new name for Monte Carlo should be coming soon. It’s telling the Monte Carlo name has been removed from a marquee at the arena site.
Don’t get all weepy. You’ll cause a short in your electronic device.
Here’s a closer look at the Monte Carlo Theater construction area.
The 5,000-seat Monte Carlo Theater was formerly home to Blue Man Group. They’re back at Luxor, once voted “Most Uncomfortable Las Vegas Hotel to Sit On, Ever.”
The new name for the Monte Carlo is one of the most closely-guarded secrets in Las Vegas at the moment, but the investment in The Park means it’s not unreasonable to think “Park” will be part of the name, despite parking being a touchy subject at MGM Resorts at the moment.
Monte Carlo’s days are numbered. Because every day has a number. Hence the popularity of calendars.
Learn more about The Park restaurant and entertainment district at the destination’s fancy new official Web site.
Enjoy a relative slew of photos from The Park, the Las Vegas Arena and the Monte Carlo Theater. It’s an exciting time for Las Vegas. Which is why we’re not standing up at the moment. Thanks for making it awkward.
The Park, Monte Carlo Theater and Las Vegas Arena Update