Two downtown venues, The Beat Coffeehouse and Burlesque Hall of Fame, have closed to make way for a new restaurant, Eureka.
If you think The Beat Coffeehouse was just another coffee shop, you don’t know beans.
Both The Beat Coffeehouse, a beloved community gathering spot, and Burlesque Hall of Fame, a beloved place to think about boobs, lived on the first floor of the Emergency Arts Building, across the street from the El Cortez casino.
We weren’t going to let these well-liked businesses “go gentle into that good night,” at least not without a send-off security breach.
The walls of the Burlesque Hall of Fame have been stripped bare.
While The Beat appears to have closed for good, the Burlesque Hall of Fame is relocating. Prior to taking up permanent residence in the city’s Arts District, the Burlesque Hall of Fame will be in a temporary space starting Oct. 7, 2016. The temporary location is 1017 South First Street, not that you’re going to stray that far away from a casino to find it.
The first floor of the Emergency Arts building will soon welcome Eureka, a hamburger restaurant chain based in Hawthorne, California. Sort of makes you feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?
Here’s a final glimpse inside The Beat, a longtime fixture in the Fremont East district.
This building is accustomed to change. It previously housed a J.C. Penney. After that, it was vacant for a decade. The Beat occupied the space for six jittery years.
Eureka is expected to open sometime in 2017. The Beat and Burlesque Hall of Fame will be tough acts to follow.
Downtown’s Gold Spike has closed its cafe, The Grill, and is working on a new restaurant concept, Fiddlestix.
The new restaurant is expected to open in early August 2016.
The restaurant concept is, refreshingly, not part of an existing chain. Fiddlestix will feature a variety of breakfast favorites, salads, burgers, sandwiches and alcoholic milkshakes. Especially that last thing.
Fiddlesticks are instruments which allow two people to play a fiddle at once. The practice is often called “beating the straws.”
Fiddlestix will also offer breakfast items 24 hours a day, including lighter options like granola and muesli, as well as other things this blog has never personally eaten.
Breakfast offerings will include bagels and “schmears,” pastries, eggs and specialty items like bacon and eggs toast with Fontina cream sauce, smoked salmon toast and cornflake-crusted French toast with Jack Daniels maple bourbon syrup. Especially that last thing.
It’s curtains for The Grill at Gold Spike.
From 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. daily, Fiddlestix will offer build-your-own yogurt parfaits and acai bowls. On Saturdays and Sundays, from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., brunch will be available with a specialty menu and all-you-can-drink mimosas and Bellinis. And especially that last thing.
As for the aforementiond alcoholic milkshakes, they’ll include The Dude (vodka, Kahlua, vanilla ice cream), Cereal Milk (RumChata cream liqueur, Fireball whisky, vanilla ice cream, Cinnamon Toast Crunch), Irish Breakfast (Jameson Irish Whiskey, crispy bacon, crumbled pancake, vanilla ice cream, maple syrup) and Oh Captain, My Captain (Captain Morgan spiced rum, Cap’n Crunch cereal, vanilla ice cream).
Wait for it.
Don’t jump ahead.
Just wait for it.
Especially that last thing!
Gold Spike’s interior design pixies are wasting no time in revamping the restaurant. Insert Pixy Stix joke here.
Fiddlestix will seat 50 people, and the center of the room will boast a 20-seat floating fuchsia quartz community table with interactive built-in iPads and Internet access. It’s a Millennial thing.
Fiddlestix will be open 24 hours a day.
Gold Spike, of course, has become the surprise hit of downtown. It was formerly an underwhelming casino, but was purchased by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and the Downtown Project. There’s also the Oasis at Gold Spike, and it’s adorable.
The Gold Spike’s casino closed on April 14, 2013. Usually, that’s where this blog’s interest would end, but on May 6, 2013, Gold Spike re-opened as a bar, restaurant and nightlife party spot.
Gold Spike originally opened as Rendezvous in 1976.
Gold Spike has been a hit with its reasonable prices, communal “Living Room” (think college common area, but cooler, and with better Wi-Fi) and outdoor hangout space, “The Backyard.”
The Living Room. What’s not to love about dueling pool tables?
Gold Spike provides a refreshing change from the usual downtown haunts and is about the only place in Las Vegas where corn hole, giant Jenga and board games are offered without it feeling like a feeble ploy to get hipsters to gamble.
There’s no question Gold Spike knows its customers, so we expect Fiddlestix will serve up accessible, hearty options at a fair price. We predict it will soon be in our regular lunch rotation.
It’s an eye-catching new attraction, and naturally we droned the living hell out of it.
The art project, by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, officially opens May 11, 2016.
Then again, when you wait for something to open officially, it’s not really a security breach. So, screw that.
How not to not get noticed.
Seven Magic Mountains (we’re assuming Six Flags isn’t litigious), is easily seen from the I-15 freeway, the main artery connecting California to Las Vegas.
A recent survey by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority says 57% of Las Vegas visitors in 2015 arrived by ground transportation, and 29% of all Las Vegas visitors come from California, so that means a metric hell-ton of people are going to be enjoying Seven Magic Mountains during their drive.
Seven Magic Mountains will be on display for two years. After that, somebody’s going to end up with some pretty epic DayGlo paperweights.
Deadliest game of Jenga, ever.
The sculptures are already drawing tourists for photo ops, and that’s expected to happen even more when the installation is officially open.
If you’d like a selfie with the Seven Magic Mountains, be forewarned, you can’t get there from here.
Here’s what we mean. Seven Magic Mountains is about 20 minutes from the southernmost tip of the Las Vegas Strip. It’s set back from the I-15 quite a bit, but easily accessible from Las Vegas Boulevard. Yes, Las Vegas Boulevard runs far, far south, parallel to the I-15.
The location of Seven Magic Mountains is most often described as being in Jean, Nevada, but if you’re driving from The Strip, you need to exit much earlier than the Jean exit. Take the exit for M Resort, then drive south 10 miles on Las Vegas Boulevard.
If you’re driving from California on the I-15, you need to take the Jean exit, about 10 miles before you can even see the sculptures.
By our count: Six pink, five yellow, four blue, four red, three orange, three green, three black, three white, two silver. Yes, yes, we have way too much time on our hands.
Once you near the art, there’s a pull-out and parking area. Nothing fancy and no pavement. There’s a path that’s been marked by little red flags. It’s unlikely the path will be paved, so you’re on your own. It’s a desert, so expect to see critters. We did.
There are no restrooms, there’s no bar, there are no food vendors or tchotchke kiosks. Plan accordingly.
The path is marked with little red flags. If you hear a rattling sound, probably best to assume it’s not somebody’s baby.
Beyond the where, there’s also the matter of why.
As artists are sometimes forced to do, Ugo Rondinone has tried to explain in human language the intent of his work. He says, “Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now.”
In the art world, this is what’s called “artsy-fartsy gobbledygook.” Which, now that we think of it, would make a pretty good band name.
Here’s what Seven Magic Mountains really is: It’s an eye-popping jolt of color in an otherwise bleak landscape.
It’s Las Vegas. We don’t do bleak.
Seven Magic Mountains is a clever take on a practice that’s taken off in recent years, rock stacking or balancing. It’s part art, part discipline, and its practitioners say rock balancing has a calming effect.
Beyond its scale, Seven Magic Mountains differs from traditional rock balancing in that it uses an inner support structure, presumably to help it withstand the desert’s high winds.
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of aragonite, which we’re fairly sure is the only thing that can hurt Superman.
What Seven Magic Mountains does have in common with rock balancing is it is almost certain to spark controversy. Many say they want to experience nature in its “undisturbed state.” Those who dislike rock balancing are pretty much guaranteed to have their heads explode at the sight of the fluorescent Seven Magic Mountains.
It’s jarring. It’s disruptive. And that’s what’s great about it. It’s nature, but amplified.
Dear Los Angeles punks. If you try to tag or otherwise deface our art, we are personally going to shoot you with a high caliber rifle. This is rural Nevada, and that crap doesn’t fly.
When you think about it, Seven Magic Mountains is a lot like Las Vegas. It’s a radiant shock to the system, a glittery jewel in the middle of a barren wasteland.
The Nevada Museum of Art says of Seven Magic Mountains, “The work pays homage to the history of Land Art while also offering a contemporary critique of the simulacra in nearby Las Vegas.”
We have no idea what a “simulacra” is, but it sounds like something hotel housekeeping would need to look for with a black light.
There are a few things you know about Guy Fieri’s restaurants before you even set foot in one, starting with what they’re not.
They’re not pretentious, they’re not understated, they’re not about nuance or gourmet dining.
What they most certainly are is over-the-top, indulgent, audacious and unforgettable. Just like Las Vegas, come to think of it.
Guy Fieri’s second restaurant effort in Las Vegas, El Burro Borracho, opened at Rio Las Vegas on March 4, 2016.
Welcome to Ciudad de Sabor. Which we’re not translating when you have the whole Internet at your fingertips.
“El Burro Borracho” translates as “drunk ass” in Spanish, so we’re not left to wonder what’s in store at this lively spot that’s taken up residence in the former Buzios Seafood space.
If you’re unfamiliar with Guy Fieri, you need to invest in a television. Fieri (real name: Guy Ramsay Ferry) hosts 90% of the shows on the Food Network. He’s the guy a lot of people love to hate, but unless you’re a food snob, his crowd-pleasing Vegas restaurants, including Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen & Bar at the Linq Hotel, possess a lot to love.
El Burro Borracho, which will inevitably have a nickname, is a long, narrow space, with a bar (pictured below) as well as a long counter area running along an open kitchen.
You know you’re in for a good time when the hooch is right up front.
The menu at El Burro Borracho is in the realm of Mexican food, although purists are sure to discover a lot of WTF.
There’s a variety of comfort and bar foods in the mix, including nachos and street corn and jalapeno poppers and quesadillas and other favorites.
The chips are on the house. A lone fried pork rind is included to remind us about the resilience of the human arterial system.
You’ll also find soups and salads, hamburgers, tacos, enchiladas, fajitas and chimichangas.
We went with the Al Pastor tacos ($17), with marinated pork shoulder, grilled pineapple serrano salsa, avocado crema, pickled red onion and cilantro. Delicious and filling.
Al pastor tacos were inspired by the spit-grilled meat brought by Lebanese immigrants to Mexico. Look how much more worldly you are now than five minutes ago. You’re welcome.
Desserts include house-made churros, fried ice cream, chocolate flan cake and other temptations.
As for the cocktails, they were plentiful and strong, stealing the spotlight by appearing before the food in the restaurant’s menu. The signature cocktails are priced at $15, and most could easily serve four people.
The Aztex Punch has El Jimador tequila, Sailor Jerry spiced rum (regrettably not Captain Morgan, but we’re not entirely inflexible), orange and pineapple juices, peach syrup, strawberry puree and a dark rum float.
Pineapple juice contains bromelain, which is believed to help prevent cancer. You can totally use that as an excuse for having a sixth Aztec Punch.
El Burro Borracho faces the hotel’s pool area, and there are plans to open a “taco stand” in the back portion of the restaurant, accessible to those at the pool seeking munchies and libations in ridiculous quantities.
This “taco stand” area should be hopping as things heat up in Las Vegas.
Currently, Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho is open 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The restaurant is technically in a “soft opening” until the official grand opening, April 1, 2016.
The copious amount of liquor, friendly staff and party atmosphere make for a fun night out at El Burro Borracho.
Rio Las Vegas could certainly use a shot in the arm, with many of its retail shops closing and a large section of its casino floor devoted to timeshare sales. We are not making this up.
The upstairs BK Whopper Bar has closed and will soon be replaced with a Smashburger.
Out with the old, in with the smashed.
KISS Minigolf will be moving into the former seafood buffet space (zero construction has started yet from what we could see), so that could also contribute a new sense of energy to the resort, as does the hotel’s show (recently relocated from the Venetian), “Rock of Ages.”
We hear a new “high-profile restaurant concept” is yet-to-come, and will sit in the space once occupied by Antonio’s Italian Ristorante.
If a hotel is looking to amp up its vibe, Guy Fieri’s brand seems a good fit. El Burro Borracho is a great place to kick back with friends, numb some brain cells and fuel up for a Las Vegas adventure.
Because when was the last time you saw someone wearing an “I Got Nuanced in Vegas” T-shirt?
It’s hard to say which was more exciting, Jason Bourne’s car piggy-backing a SWAT van and crashing into the Riviera casino, or the Super Bowl trailer featuring Las Vegas footage and the name of the latest installment of the Bourne franchise (wait for it), “Jason Bourne.”
At the moment, we’re still reeling from the Riviera stunt, so we’ll just go with that. Major spoilers ahead, by the way!
Bourne’s Charger and a SWAT van get busy. Hey, it’s Vegas.
After weeks of “Jason Bourne” sightings on the Las Vegas Strip, the big day of the Riviera stunt finally arrived on Feb. 5, 2016.
There were a couple of clues Bourne was coming to The Riv. First, the Riv’s facade was lit up. Also, a special awning appeared overnight leading up to the stunt.
The Riviera name won’t be seen in the film. The Riv’s fictional name will be the Empire Casino.
As this blog has documented, perhaps a tad too obsessively, the Riviera was the climax of a high-speed car chase that began at Aria.
The awning after dark.
During the chase, Bourne’s car takes a ramp at Bally’s and ends up on the roof of a SWAT van with the movie’s villain, played by Vincent Cassel (“Oceans 12”), inside.
Here’s the jump at Bally’s.
Through a bit of movie magic, the sequence cuts to the Riviera, despite the hotels being a mile and a half away from each other.
Fans were treated to a spectacular stunt where Bourne’s car is ripped from the roof of the SWAT van while the SWAT vehicle barrels through the doors of the Riviera. Here’s the best view of the stunt we’ve seen so far, and not just because we captured it.
Look closely and you’ll see a cable extending from the back of Bourne’s Charger. The awning’s just for show, and the cable actually keeps the Charger from moving forward with the SWAT van. The cable will be removed with CGI in the finished film.
It’s interesting to note that stunts of this kind are typically done by a film’s “second unit,” or sans stars. However, those on the scene say Matt Damon and Vincent Cassel took part in the stunt sequence at Riviera.
It was glorious seeing an iconic hotel being used to such great effect in a Bourne movie.
Zooming in, you can see the movie’s set decoration created signage for shows in the Empire Casino. Attention to detail, baby.
This is absurdly fanatical, but if you look up Ron Reiss (the performer depicted in the fake sign above, along with the amusing text, “Bringing Back the Ukulele”), you’ll find a result for Ronald R. Reiss, a set decorator with a metric hell-ton of credits, including “The Matrix,” “Jurassic World” and “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” Awesome Easter egg, Ron, but nothing escapes this blog. (We totally just scooped IMDb.)
Also on the sign above, you’ll see a reference to Exocon. That’s the name of the fictional tech conference at Aria where Tommy Lee Jones’ character (CIA Director Robert Dewey) is a speaker, and another character (Deep Dream Founder and CEO Aaron Kalloor) played by Riz Ahmed is assassinated by Vincent Cassel’s character and the Strip chase begins.
But wait, there’s more!
While the stunt outside the Riviera was spectacular, for those who adored The Riv, what was inside was fairly spectacular as well. Here’s what we could see from the outside.
Riviera lives again!
That wouldn’t be nearly as spectacular were it not for the fact the inside of Riviera was stripped clean when the hotel closed.
Here’s what the interior of the Riviera looked like on May 6, 2015.
Sorry we didn’t appreciate you enough when you were alive, Riviera.
For the making of “Jason Bourne,” crew dressed the Riviera’s casino to make it look open, including dozens of slot machines and about 20 table games.
Here’s an exclusive look inside the Riviera, thanks to our favorite extra in the history of ever.
We do not use the term “movie magic” lightly.
If you didn’t know this was a movie set, you’d swear that photo was taken when the Riviera was still in operation. Vegas nerd gold!
Here’s another incredible shot our superfan mole passed along that shows the SWAT van inside the Riviera just after it crashed through the break-away glass doors.
Lesson: Don’t drink and try to evade justice.
Our extra friend says Bourne (played by Matt Damon, of course) emerges from his car, injured, in hot pursuit of Vincent Cassel (an assassin, carrying a gun and duffel bag). There’s a gun fight.
Extras didn’t get to see how the sequence ends, but it’s a pretty good bet Jason Bourne prevails.
Although filmed just a few weeks earlier, another chase sequence made it into the “Jason Bourne” trailer unveiled during Super Bowl 50.
Here’s the aforementioned trailer.
Havoc, consider yourself wreaked.
We are not cleaning this up.
If you look closely, you can see some faux shrubbery along the front of Paris Las Vegas, where there’s typically just a bare sidewalk.
The SWAT truck’s POV just before it plows the road, Jason Bourne in hot pursuit.
Here’s video of the plowing the road sequence taken by a fellow Bourne fan.
We snapped pics of that very same stretch of The Strip on Jan. 21, 2016.
Filmmakers either wanted to pretty up this stretch of The Strip or, more likely, camouflage it. This is the same spot where an asshat plowed into pedestrians in December 2015. So, awkward.
Told you we’re obsessed.
Oh, and in the trailer, you can also see the moment when Vincent Cassel’s bad guy offs Riz Ahmed’s character, just after Ahmed’s character says something about having sold his soul and betrayed the public trust. (“Jason Bourne” sounds like it will delve into the world of cyber-security and privacy in a big way.)
Vincent Cassel’s character presumably shoots his target from the rafters, but the Ironwood Ballroom at Aria doesn’t have a rafter area, so this part of the assassination sequence was probably shot on a soundstage in L.A.
Filming of “Jason Bourne” is wrapping up in Vegas, so we hope to finally get some much-needed rest.
The Riv’s scheduled for implosion in early 2017. “Jason Bourne” is an epic way for the Riviera to be immortalized, even as the Empire Casino.
We’ll probably do a comprehensive wrap-up at some point, so if you’re a Bourne fan, stay tuned.
“Jason Bourne” wrapped production in Las Vegas on Feb. 8, 2016 (actually in the wee hours of Feb. 9) with a re-shoot of the Bally’s jump sequence. Insert sad face here.
“Jason Bourne” opens July 29, 2016. We should have a viewing party or something. Preferably in our pants.
Clear out your sad trombone’s spit valve, the Lucky Dragon hotel-casino project is running out of cash.
A few days ago, we popped by to check out the latest developments at Lucky Dragon, but, oh, so much has happened since then.
Exciting, right? Buzz, meet kill. Keep reading.
When we first heard about Lucky Dragon, a new Asian-themed, boutique hotel near the north end of The Strip, lots of red flags went up.
The project would rely heavily on EB-5 financing, where foreign investors contribute capital (at least $500,000) to American businesses and in return can earn a U.S. visa.
Lucky Dragon raised $60 million this way, enough to get the project off the ground, and it’s made impressive progress. Enough progress, in fact (the hotel was topped off in Sep. 2015), to make this blog prematurely proclaim the Lucky Dragon could actually be a thing. This blog is not unfamiliar with prematurity, trust us.
Update: What in the hell were we thinking?
Interesting fact: In some Asian cultures, the number four is considered bad luck. We’re thinking this must also apply to “foresight” and “forethought.”
While some other Las Vegas projects have done well with EB-5 financing, it appears Lucky Dragon isn’t one of those.
Lucky Dragon has now come hat-in-hand to the Las Vegas Redevelopment Agency for a public subsidy, something called tax increment financing, or TIF. Presumably, getting the $25 million public subsidy would then trigger an additional $30 in funds from a bank, First Foundation Bank. Read more.
Stuff is happening at Lucky Dragon. The question is who’s paying for the rest of the stuff?
What it all comes down to is Lucky Dragon made a financial leap of faith and began building without all the needed financing in place.
This move has SkyVue observation wheel written all over it. In case you missed it, that particular pie-in-the-sky project didn’t end well.
Lucky Dragon reps claim if funds aren’t received, “they’ll be forced to cease all development activity,” so we’d place a hefty wager there are any number of Asian investors scrambling to translate the letters “WTF” right about now.
Lucky Dragon, please become a reality so we can skip ahead to the stories about your struggling due to the challenging location, thanks.
Please, Lucky Dragon, get your act together. Don’t punish us for optimism. Open in 2016, with your casino and your restaurants and your pool and your lounges and your spa, even though we’ll never go to the spa, but that’s not the point.
Open in 2016, Lucky Dragon, and we’ll even forgive your shady “Give us our tax increment financing or we’re taking our casino and going home!” tactics.
Because the last thing the north end of the Las Strip needs is a partially-completed, abandoned shell of a hotel. Fountainbleu Las Vegas already called dibs on that.
Update (11/18/15): The Las Vegas City Council has rejected Lucky Dragon’s subsidy request. Hey, it can’t hurt to ask.