Category Archives: Las Vegas

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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Amorino at Linq Promenade is Destination Gelato

Linq Promenade has had a recent string of successes with openings including In-N-Out and Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips. A new gelato shop, Amorino, could end up stealing the spotlight, though, especially when summer rolls around.

Amorino Gelato Linq Promenade

An “amorino” is a cherub, also known as a “chubby male child who has had a few too many servings of gelato.”

Amorino is a gelato brand already familiar to Europeans, and now the delicious Italian ice cream has made its way to the Las Vegas Strip. (There’s another location at the Las Vegas North Premium Outlets, but this one’s better because, well, The Strip.)

Amorino replaces a failed gift shop, Koto, adjacent to Chayo Mexican Kitchen.

Guests will immediately notice Amorino’s signature offering, cones with gelato scooped to resemble flowers.

Amorino Gelato Las Vegas

Everything’s better with a macaron stuffed in it.

Thank you, tourists, for letting us take photos of your gelato flowers, which definitely sounds dirtier than it is.

Amorino also offers a wide variety of gelato-filled macarons, sweet, meringue-based confections that definitely aren’t the same as macaroons. Thanks, Wikipedia.

Amorino Gelato Las Vegas

The ruffled circumference of a macaron is called the “foot,” so when you have one, you’re putting your foot in your mouth. Bonus: Ruffled Circumference would make a great band name.

Amorino’s gelato comes in a dizzying variety of flavors, including our personal favorite, stracciatella.

Fair warning: Strip pricing is in full effect at Amorino. A small cone will run you $5.50, the large (“Classic”) will set you back $8.50. Gelato is also available in cups, running from small ($5.50) to the Maxi ($14.00). It’s great gelato, so it only stings for a minute.

Amorino gelato Linq

Pay no attention. You’ll get it back at Wheel of Fortune.

The “Macarons al Gelato” are $2.50, but you can save a couple of bucks if you get them in bulk. Twelve cost $28.50, 24 cost $56.

Also available in the 1,500-square-foot shop are several items we didn’t pay nearly as much attention to as the gelato, like specialty coffee, crepes, waffles, hot cocoa and chocolates.

Amorino gelato Linq Vegas

Worth the wait, worth the price and worth enduring bloggers taking photos of your gelato. Probably.

The world of frosty treats center-Strip has been in turmoil of late, with our favorite ice cream place, Ice Pan, closing at Harrah’s. Amorino is worthy successor, so be sure to put your tongue on it. Unless that makes you feel uncomfortable, then definitely do it. You’re in Las Vegas.

Amorino Gelato at Linq Promenade

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Las Vegas Chick-fil-A Restaurants Are a Monster Success

It’s been just a couple of weeks since two Chick-fil-A locations opened in Las Vegas and both joints are, as predicted, enjoying a mind-boggling level of success.

The two restaurants have been at virtually maximum capacity since opening on Jan. 26, 2017. According to a law enforcement official, one Chick-fil-A location (9925 S. Eastern Ave., Henderson) served a staggering 70,000 customers in its first four days of operation.

Chick-fil-A Las Vegas

Get in our belly.

The massive demand for the best chicken sandwiches on Earth has led to some impromptu measures on the part of management. Numerous Henderson police officers have been brought on (with Chick-fil-A picking up the tab, of course) to redirect an influx of vehicular traffic.

Why all the cars? About 60% of Chick-fil-A’s business happens in the drive-through.

Below is a bird’s eye view of one Chick-fil-A location. The line of cars waiting for drive-through snakes out of Chick-fil-A, down an access ramp, down the street, around a corner and along the back of a nearby Lowe’s. It’s a jaw-dropper!


Chick-fil-A is at left, everything else is drive-through line. We are not making this up.

While lines are long, service times remain surprisingly short. (We haven’t tried it yet, but the Chick-fil-A app is said to help cut wait times.)

A quick flight over the Eastern location shows both the drive-through line and a crowd gathering
outside the restaurant. Those dining in can expect a wait of about 15 minutes. It’s longer for
drive-through (Chick-fil-A’s goal for drive-through service is three minutes per car or less), so
park and dine inside (or take your meal to go).

Chick-fil-A has service down pat. Employees work the line with tablets, sending orders wirelessly
to the kitchen. This advance ordering system means once a guest pays, the order is already in the works or even done by the time payment is made. So, don’t be discouraged if you see a line.
Chick-fil-A has got this.

As we’ve said all along, there’s a lot of pent-up demand for Chick-fil-A in Las Vegas, and it’s likely the long lines and extremely high demand will mellow out with time, especially as other locations open.

A key location appears to be progressing quickly, so we stopped by there, too.

The next Chick-fil-A will be at the corner of Sahara and S. Rancho Drive, right across the street from Palace Station.

Chick-fil-A Sahara Rancho

The Chick-fil-A at Sahara and Rancho was built from scratch. See our “before” photos here, you freak.

We got a look at some external signage awaiting installation.

Chick-fil-A Rancho

The current Chick-fil-As are 15 minutes from The Strip. The Sahara location is two minutes. According to our calculations, this third location will make about infinity dollars in its first week. Conservative estimate.

As our love for Chick-fil-A knows no bounds, we couldn’t resist getting a better look at the new

After multiple Chick-fil-A visits since the Las Vegas locations opened, we’ve yet to have a
disappointing experience. You’d expect employees to be frustrated with the crush of customers, but they are universally friendly and cheerful.

The food is consistently hot and fresh, and there’s no sign resources or supplies are under
any strain.

We’ll be checking back often at Chick-fil-A, you know, for blog research. If you’re hungry for some insider skinny about Chick-fil-A, check out our interview with a Chick-fil-A franchise owner on the Vital Vegas Podcast.

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Major Overhaul of Palace Station Casino Commences

There are big things in the works for the off-Strip Palace Station, and some of those plans are well under way.

We popped in at Palace Station, but won’t be able to share any photos because, according to a security guard, “Photos of the construction site aren’t allowed.”

Palace Station construction

Suck it, asshats. All due respect.

Seriously? The site is readily viewable by the public, 24/7.

Well, we’re nothing if not respectful of authority, so we’re not going to share more than a dozen or so photos of the site.

Palace Station construction

Looks like somebody’s getting a fancy new video screen.

Oh, and here’s some video of the construction, mainly because our contempt for overreaching casino security guards is exceeded only by our aversion to casinos that swap out our liquor brand.

Palace Station, owned by Red Rock Resorts (also known as Station Casinos), is currently adding a new porte cochere and bingo hall to its casino, and they’re just getting started.

Improvements will include a new, 27-floor hotel tower, a movie theater, bowling alley and upgraded pool area. It’s believed the hotel’s railroad theme will go away in favor of a more modern design. (Think Red Rock Resort, which is a good thing.)

Palace Station trains

Time to bid farewell to the choo-choos.

In a future phase of the transformation, Palace Station is expected to also add a new buffet and two additional restaurants, as well as additional convention space.

Yes, convention space is incredibly boring, but it’s also lucrative, so expect to see more. Aria even closed a Cirque du Soleil show, “Zarkana,” to make more room for conventioneers, and Riviera was demolished to expand the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Thanks to our friends at Eater Vegas for ferreting out all the details of the changes at Palace Station.

Palace Station construction

Why all the additional space for bingo, you ask? Station Casinos has a long history with bingo, and Palace Station originally opened as Bingo Palace in 1976.

Misguided security guards aside, Palace Station remains a great place to play. Despite being five minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, it tends to appeal to locals, which means better table minimums, better odds and better overall value.

Enjoy a few more photos of the construction happening at Palace Station, which we definitely didn’t take after being informed photography isn’t permitted, because that would be wrong.

Palace Station Renovations Begin

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 40.5: A Chat With Five Downtown Casino Bosses

It’s not our typical episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast, and that can only be a good thing.

This week, we share an uncensored panel discussion with five downtown casino bosses: Jonathan Jossel (Plaza), Seth Schorr (Downtown Grand), Derek Stevens (The D, Golden Gate), Jim Sullivan (Fremont) and Joe Woody (El Cortez). Patrick Hughes, President of Fremont Street Experience, moderates.

Five casino bosses

From left, Jonathan Jossel, Seth Schorr, Derek Stevens, Jim Sullivan and Joe Woody.

The discussion ranges from challenges for downtown, upcoming casino projects, the importance of non-gambling amenities at Las Vegas resorts and the fact downtown casinos have managed to outpace 12 other markets in Nevada in terms of year-over-year gaming (a fancy word for “gambling”) revenue.

Full disclosure: This blog’s day job is at Fremont Street Experience, a downtown marketing umbrella for several Las Vegas casinos including The D, Golden Gate and Fremont casinos. Our opinions are our own, unless we’re intoxicated, then our opinions are Captain Morgan’s.

Take a listen and learn more about the people behind the neon and tassels in downtown Las Vegas.

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“Le Reve” at Wynn Provides an Over-the-Top Escape

We figured it was high time to dive into “Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas, and the dazzling show certainly doesn’t disappoint.

“Le Reve” at Wynn is quintessential Las Vegas spectacle, and it’s no secret nobody does spectacle better than Sin City. Or hangovers. But mostly that first thing.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

As first impressions go, this one’s impressive.

“Le Reve,” French for “The Dream,” is a water-based show performed in the round. Most of the action takes place in a 1.1 million gallon water tank. Sorry, “aqua theater,” because it sounds fancier.

It’s said no seat is more than 40 feet from the action at “Le Reve,” so there are no bad seats in the house. Unless you sit behind an Abraham Lincoln impersonator.

Because of the hat.

We’ll wait.

Many Las Vegas visitors mistakenly believe “Le Reve” is a Cirque du Soleil show. It’s not, but the show was created by Franco Dragone, the creative force behind “Mystere” and “0,” the Cirque show most likely to elicit comparisons to “Le Reve.”

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

Let the dangling commence!

There are two big differences between “O” and “Le Reve.”

First, where “O” involves lots of diving, “Le Reve” features dangling and dropping. It’s impressive dropping, to be sure. At one point, someone plummets about 10 stories into the pool below, an exhilarating thrill to behold.

The second difference is there are no “clowns” in “Le Reve.” This comes as a great relief to those of us who put “clowns” in quotation marks because Cirque “clowns” are never very “funny.”

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

There’s sort of an orgy, but, you know, the family-friendly kind.

“Le Reve” checks a number of boxes when it comes to successful Las Vegas shows, including the fact you don’t have to speak English to enjoy it. We’re fairly sure the show claims to have a plot, but ultimately any attempt at a story would distract from the non-stop, intoxicating eye candy.

Just about every sequence in “Le Reve” captures the imagination, and one can’t help but marvel at the technology involved in such a complex production.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

They’re going to need a bigger burger.

There are a whopping 90 performers in the cast, or slightly less than the number of people who live in Vermont. Each member of the cast is scuba certified, and all are extraordinarily fit. They’re also scantily-clad. Hey, it’s still Vegas.

Fun fact: Pretty much all the male performers in “Le Reve” are muscular, bald and pasty. Think War Boys in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” but shimmery.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

By casting bald guys, “Le Reve” saves a ton on swim caps.

“Le Reve” opened in May 2005, and was mercilessly panned by critics. The show appears to be doing brisk business now, and recently got yet another creative overhaul.

Insiders share that the new incarnation didn’t pass muster with Steve Wynn when it was unveiled, so he essentially scrapped the retooled show at great expense.

From what we understand, some of the elements from the revamped show remain, and are probably the reason the show feels uneven in places. The best example is the closing sequence. The dramatic tone suddenly takes a hard turn into a Disney-style “Under the Sea” number even those involved with the production admit is a bit of a trainwreck.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

Sometimes, you just have to go with it.

Setting the closing number aside (and the distracting, hit-and-miss music throughout), “Le Reve” is, in fact, dreamlike, including standard things you find in dreams: Sex, mysterious characters, flying, vivid visuals and lots of random WTF.

Inverted, synchronized swimmers in red pumps spring to mind.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

There’s nothing sexier than a leggy swimmer with wrinkly toes and fingertips.

“Le Reve” at Wynn Las Vegas is surprising and engaging and a feast for the eyes. From the aerial feats of daring to the pyrotechnics and dancing fountains, it’s everything you could ask of a Las Vegas show. Plus, it’s at Wynn Las Vegas. Where else but the Wynn can you leave a show, and as you’re passing through the theater lobby take a selfie with a $28 million Popeye statue? The art formerly in the space, “Tulips” by Jeff Koons, has been shipped off to Wynn Palace in Macau.

Tickets to “Le Reve” start at $115.

For $175, you’ll get “Dream Seating,” with plush seats, more leg room and a monitor providing live backstage and underwater video during the show.

Le Reve Wynn Las Vegas

It’s not an extra $60, it’s memories, so just pony up.

Enjoy more exclusive photos from “Le Reve,” below. Oh, and did we mention audience members are encouraged to take non-flash photos during the show? For a Las Vegas blog, that is indeed a dream come true.

Le Reve at Wynn Las Vegas

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