Monthly Archives: October 2014

Kabob Korner, Fremont East Drunchies Spot, Closes

A popular Mediterranean joint, Kabob Korner, has closed on Fremont East in downtown Las Vegas.

The closure of the restaurant follows on the heels of its next door neighbor, Uncle Joe’s Pizza, shuttering as well.

In both cases, the restaurants’ leases were bought out by Downtown Project, an effort financed by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh with the mission to “transform Downtown Las Vegas into the most community-focused large city in the world,” whatever that might actually mean.

Kabob Korner

Some stuff just got gentrificated. And stuff.

What does all this mean? We have no idea. We do know, however, you’re going to have to get your Super Gyros somewhere else downtown.

Before Kabob Korner closed, the owner told us he’s moving to another location in town, but wasn’t sure where.

There’s no clear indication of what might replace these two spaces, although we hear Downtown Project is keeping all the kitchen equipment, so there’s a chance different restaurants may open here. There have also been rumors of a potential Zappos retail store.

Kabob Korner Las Vegas

It wasn’t so much a closure as a mercy killing.

The changes they are aplenty downtown. The loss of these two mom-and-pop restaurants is symbolic (the food wasn’t anything to write home about), and the list of restaurants offering cheap eats is definitely shrinking in this area.

If you’re hungry, hit La Comida, Le Thai, Pinches Tacos in the Downtown Container Park or Nacho Daddy, all in close proximity. Or live a little and hit the Heart Attack Grill. On second thought, maybe we should rephrase that.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall Display Is Both Impressive and Taken for Granted by All of Us

The Bellagio’s Conservatory & Botanical Gardens are so dependably impressive, it’s easy to take for granted both the freeness and the wonder of it all. And did we mention it’s still free?

Bellagio Conservatory fall

Fall is here, along with these two, who could clearly benefit from moisturizer.

The Bellagio Conservatory changes seasonally, and its “Fall Harvest Show” runs through Nov. 30, 2014.

Once again, the Bellagio’s 140 horticulturalists have created one “How’d they do that?” moment after another. It’s easy to forget most of the overs-sized objects in the Conservatory are fashioned from plants and flowers. For example, the apples below are each made from more than 1,200 red carnations.

Ballagio Conservatory

These are Rome apples. We say this with confidence mainly because nobody from Bellagio will ever read this blog post, so it’s not like they’re going to correct us or anything.

The Bellagio Conservatory’s fall display has a 40-foot tall watermill, complete with water flowing into a pond below.

Bellagio Conservatory 2104

Swimming is encouraged! Mainly because we are blog and take little to no responsibility for anything we say.

Also on display are two bears (one 10 feet tall, the other six feet tall), their fur fashioned from reindeer moss.

Bellagio Conservatory Gardens bears

Reindeer Moss would not make a terrible band name.

A popular photo op is a path beneath two pergolas. If you don’t know what a pergola is, you clearly aren’t as intelligent or sophisticated as this blog, nor do you have access to look up what a pergola is, which we definitely didn’t do just now. A pergola is an archway in a garden or park with a framework covered with plants.

Bellagio Gardens pergolas

Trust Las Vegas to deliver an amazing set of pergolas.

There’s also a 28-foot-tall talking tree, which is only a little creepy as its eyes follow you and seem to pierce your very soul.

Ballagio Conservatory

Please stop that. We’re easily spooked.

Nearby is a horse made from floral hydrangeas, yarrow and dune grass, whatever those might actually be.

Bellagio Conservatory

Our enthusiasm for the Bellagio Conservatory is unbridled.

Bellagio’s Conservatory has surprises around every turn, with pumpkins weighing as much as 1,200 pounds, a variety of woodland creatures and massive glass leaves (example below).

Bellagio Conservatory leaves

The glass leaves are hand-shaped, range from three to 10 feet in length, and are based upon the leaves of oak, birch, maple and chestnut trees. Yes, we took notes, for once.

Oh, and the fall display boasts 850 shrubs. Shrubs never get the credit they so richly deserve and are consistently underrated. In that sense, shrubs are the “Waterworld” of plants.

There’s also a floral version of Georgia O’Keeffe’s acclaimed painting we’ve never heard of, “Red Tree, Yellow Sky.”

Bellagio gardens las vegas

O’Keeffe’s breathtaking painting was done in 1952, and is considered one of her finest labia-free works.

Guests of the fall display can enjoy live music each day from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Conservatory experts (called Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb) are available from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. to answer questions about the gardens.

If you can’t make it to the Bellagio, check out their sweet Web cam.

Next up at Bellagio is the display for the holidays, one of our favorites of all the Conservatory’s offerings. The holiday display debuts Dec. 6, and runs through Jan. 4, 2015.

Do yourself a favor and stop by the Bellagio, and take time to just take it all in. Get up close and examine the amazing attention to detail, and notice the sheer numbers of flowers used in each seasonal display. The fall display features more than 51,000 seasonal flowers. Yes, we counted.

This charming tree troll was created by sculptor Kim Beaton.

Our favorite part of the fall exhibit is this charming tree troll created by sculptor Kim Beaton.

The Bellagio Conservatory is one of the wonders of Las Vegas, and one of the few free things to do that continues to wows visitors from around the world. Oh, and us. Then again, we’re big into shrubs.

Bellagio Conservatory Fall 2014

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The Quad Closes In On Becoming The Linq Hotel & Casino, New Lobby Bar Revealed

The Quad Las Vegas is scheduled to become The Linq Hotel & Casino on Oct. 30, 2014. Nearly all traces of The Quad are gone, and construction walls have come down revealing the hotel’s long-awaited lobby bar.

Linq Hotel & Casino lobby bar

Vegas visitors will soon have a new place to get their vortex on.

Hotel officials have announced the new bar’s name will be the Living Room, but given that the bar’s centerpiece resembles the hotel’s rooftop “Vortex,” we’re thinking this new offering should be called Vortex Bar. Then again, we thought The Quad was a stupid name and the hotel experts went with it, so this blog clearly doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

Our friends at Vegas Chatter say they hear the bar will be called 3535 Bar, after the hotel’s street address. Still, Vortex Bar!

Here’s the Linq Hotel’s rooftop vortex thingy. See? They’re like long-lost twins.

Linq Vortex

Also in the works as part of the Linq Hotel’s renovation is a 21,000-square-foot Vortex Roof Deck. The venue will host weddings, fashion shows, concerts and other events.

Now, back inside, closer to the liquor.

Linq lobby bar

The vortex thingy changes colors. Even “Mood Bar” would be better than Living Room.

The new $2.7 million, 8,800-square-foot Living Room bar has counter top video poker, and seven private booths nearby that look pretty comfy.

Linq lobby bar booths

Each of the booths has its own TV. Because TVs have to be everywhere in Las Vegas now. It’s the law.

Next to the bar is a new casino area with a craps table, two roulette tables and several blackjack and specialty card game tables.

Linq Hotel casino

Let’s break in some felt, shall we?

The bar and its adjoining casino area are elevated, situated across from the hotel’s new registration desk (at left in the photo below).

Linq hotel and casino

Steps and drunk people are usually natural enemies in Las Vegas, so fingers crossed.

Here’s the fancy new check-in desk.

Linq hotel registration desk

This ain’t your grandpa’s Imperial Palace.

All the remaining construction walls in the hotel’s casino have finally come down, so gone are the days of our much-beloved security breaches at The Quad.

The shopping promenade is still a work-in-progress, though, so we breached a future tchotchke shop or two for old times’ sake.

Linq Hotel shopping

The blue parts are to keep people from looking into the shops. They’ll end up being glass.

Not much progress has been made in the stores at all, so it’s clear finishing the casino was was made a higher priority. See? There’s still hope Las Vegas won’t become one giant shopping mall, although it certainly looks that way sometimes.

Linq shops

Our day just isn’t complete without a security breach and orifice search by hotel security.

Nearby, the Quad/Linq’s infamous hotel tower elevator bank has been given a once-over.

Here’s a photo from a few weeks back, with Linq Hotel & Casino signs on the doors, but leftover design elements from the Imperial Palace up above.

Quad elevators

Many guests of the IP and Quad have spent hours of quality time waiting for these elevators.

Now, the same elevator bank sports a brick motif, and reminders of the IP and Quad are gone, except “Out of Order” signs with Quad logos. We’re hoping against hope the fact these elevators are out of order means they’re being repaired, improved or replaced in honor of The Quad becoming The Linq Hotel. Hey, one can dream.

Linq hotel and casino

The decor has gone from “all over the place” to “just about any place.”

Please keep your underwhelm to yourself. The rebranding isn’t done yet! Although the bricks, known in the hotel renovation world as “new look on a budget,” have replaced The Quad’s distinctive branding throughout the hotel.

Linq bricks

These neutral bricks will come in handy if the hotel gets another new name in a year or two. Hey, people laughed the first time we said that was going to happen, too.

Check out our exclusive photo gallery below for more photos inside the new Linq Hotel & Casino.

Oh, and please note The Quad Wine & Spirits store has been renamed The Linq Wine & Spirits store.

Linq wine and spirits

Given the Quad debacle, we’re sure hotel officials could use a drinq.

Heading outside, all the signs for the Quad have been removed, including a massive sign for The Quad in the hotel’s valet area. Here’s what it looked like until recently.

The Quad las vegas

You were supposed to look at it in a mirror. Or something.

Now, the sign is gone, and all we have left are our memories of an ill-fated hotel name that very soon will be relegated to the footnotes of Las Vegas hotel history.

Linq Hotel valet

The Quad sign is no more.

You can still find traces of The Quad, if you know where to look. This is where the sign once stood.

Linq valet

We should have called dibs on that sign. It’s a true Las Vegas collector’s item.

The exterior of the new Linq Hotel & Casino is distinctive, to say the least.

Linq hotel

Don’t get us started.

Exterior painting doesn’t look like it will be completed by Oct. 30, but you never know.

Linq hotel exterior

This doesn’t seem to qualify as one of those instances when “It’ll look much better once it’s done!”

The wacky colors are everywhere, including on freshly-painted posts and walls.

Linq Hotel exterior

No, this isn’t just a “coat of primer,” but we love your glass-half-full attitude.

We weren’t able to cajole or bribe our way into a newly-renovated room, but folks on-site say remodeled rooms will be available for public viewing on Oct. 31, 2014. Sorry, Luv Tub lovers.

Linq Hotel rooms

The Linq Hotel has a pretty good batting average when it comes to making their stuff look like the renderings, so we suspect this will be pretty close.

While we’re happy to see further progress on The Quad (sorry, Linq Hotel), there’s little cohesion throughout the hotel and casino. Tag Lounge is sort of its own thing, the new lobby Vortex Bar (that really is a better name) is its own thing, Catalyst Bar is its own thing, O’Sheas is its own thing.

Tight budgets and a branding misfire have resulted in a hotel without a clear identity or vibe. But as we’ve said before, time will tell. We like a lot of the individual parts of the new Linq Hotel & Casino, so we look forward to seeing what refinements are still to come. Especially if those refinements include lots of go-go dealers and drink specials.

Linq Hotel & Casino Las Vegas

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Nevada Day Open House Will (Could) Be the Last for Bizarre, Wonderful Hammargren House

One of the most remarkable attractions in Las Vegas has to be the home of the state’s former Lt. Governor, Lonnie Hammargren, and his wife Sandy. The couple opens their home for Nevada Day, and what’s inside will blow your mind.

Lonnie Hammargren has a passion for preserving history, as well as an obsessive love of collecting that borders on hoarding, but in a demented genius sort of way.

Hammargren House of Nevada History

Hammargren House looks unassuming, but inside prodigious treasures await! Yes, we’re blogging drunk again.

The Hammargren home is the stuff of Las Vegas legend. Many visitors to the city often don’t even know it exists. We’re about to change all that.

Hammargren Home Nevada History

It begins.

We’ve put together a gallery of 100 photos of the Hammargren house, and even with that number of photos, we barely scratched the surface of the treasure trove within.

Hammergren Home Nevada History

Let’s begin by saying we would not want to be the one to dust all this.

One of the reasons the Hammargren home has remained such a hidden gem is it’s difficult to describe what it is.

Essentially, it’s a sprawling estate (12,000-square-feet, actually three houses combined into one) where every room is themed and teeming with artifacts from around the world.

Hammargren chapel room

Yes, there’s a chapel, because why the hell not?

Many of the items in Lonnie Hammargren collection are related to Las Vegas, which serves to make it even more near and dear to this blog’s heart.

Hammargren Las Vegas signs

Lonnie Hammargren built the Neon Museum before there was a Neon Museum.

We can’t even begin to fully list the artifacts on display in the “Hammargren Home of Nevada History” (as it’s more commonly known than its proper name, Castillo del Sol).

For starters, there’s an Apollo space capsule, the above-pictured Batmobile, a life-sized T-Rex, a full-sized gondola and plane, a replica of an atomic bomb, a spare engine from Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose, roller coaster cars from The Stratosphere, Sin City casino signs galore and thousands and thousands of curiosities and collectibles worth untold millions of dollars in WTF value alone.

Hammargren Home

There’s just no. You can’t really. Yeah.

As you make your way through our 100 photos, remember all the objects you see have been collected and displayed by one person, Lonnie Hammargren. A very, very tired person, we assume.

Lonnie Hammargren

You collect casino chips. Lonnie Hammargren collects everything else.

The sheer quantity and diversity of the objects on display are dizzying. Each time you turn a corner in the home, your senses are overwhelmed. Each item has a story. And every time you visit, you see something you missed the visit before.

Hammargren House

No matter where you are in the Hammargren House, you’re not done yet.

Whether you think Lonnie Hammargren (a former neurosurgeon) is an inveterate hoarder, or just a colorful eccentric, there’s no denying he has a keen eye for the offbeat and an exceptional sense of the whimsical.

Hammargren House

We’re pretty sure dinosaurs and trains never co-existed. Hey, this isn’t about history, it’s about, “OMFG! It’s a train and a dinosaur!”

It’s interesting to note that Hammargren has an Egyptian tomb beneath his house, and plans to be buried in it someday.

Hammargren tomb

Lonnie Hammargren’s Egyptian burial chamber and sarcophagus. He says he’ll be preserved in “absolute alcohol.” Or “Absolut alcohol.” Either way, we love this guy.

Here’s the man, the legend, the somewhat askew Dr. Lonnie Hammargren.

Health problems and complaints from neighbors (the Hammargren house is in a residential neighborhood, after all, and used to draw hundreds of visitors a day) have kept open houses to a minimum in recent years.

Every year the open house happens could potentially be the last, so it creates a sense of urgency if you’ve never visited before.

Hammargren Home Robbie Knievel

One of Hammargren’s prized possessions is a suit worn by daredevil Robbie Knievel during an ill-fated stunt.

Fun fact that could win you a bar bet someday: Nevada became a state on Oct. 31, 1864.

Hammargren Home toys

We could spend a week in the toy room alone.

If you’re able to visit, do.

The Hammargren’s address is 4318 Ridgecrest Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89121.

Hammargren Vegas Vic

Of course there’s a giant Vegas Vic.

We can personally guarantee the Hammargren home is like nothing you’ve ever seen or imagined, and it’s certainly like no other attraction in Las Vegas.

Simply put, the Hammargren Home of Nevada History is the tchotchke mother lode.

Hammargren House Las Vegas

There’s no such thing as too much of a good thing in Las Vegas, but Lonnie Hammargren comes real, real close.

It’s not a museum. It’s human imagination made real through time and a compulsion bordering on an addiction of the noblest kind. We plan to honor Lonnie Hammargren’s noble compulsion by attending his open house, possibly on both days.

We promise you’ll fall in love with this magnificent maze, and once inside, you’ll never want to emerge.

Hammargren Nevada History House

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Pop Diva Jennifer Lopez Inks Planet Hollywood Residency Deal, Or Not

National treasure TMZ is reporting Jennifer Lopez has signed a deal to perform a multi-million dollar residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas.

TMZ says it got its hands on a contract showing Lopez will receive $350,000 per show, even more than Britney Spears, whose run has been a windfall for Planet Hollywood. (Spears recently got a bump in pay, a testament to the financial success of the show.)

Jennifer Lopez

When Jennifer Lopez performs onstage live, she’s compensated up front. In movies, it’s typically a back-end deal.

Lopez will supposedly perform a total of 72 shows, three times a week for 24 weeks (over a one or two year period).

The deal guarantees Jennifer Lopez will make $26.3 million for her shows at The Axis inside Planet Hollywood.

Planet Hollywood owner Caesars Entertainment, however, says reports of the deal are premature, something with which this blog is all too familiar.

An official statement said, “Caesars Entertainment is always engaged in blah blah blah, but at this time Jennifer Lopez has not been presented with any offer to perform at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.” So, what’s known in PR circles as “hooey.”

Our usual contacts inside Caesars are staying mum on this one, so even an off-the-record confirmation isn’t happening quite yet.

In another apparent confirmation, though, an insider told, “Jennifer is looking forward to Season 14 and also anticipates Season 15 of ‘American Idol,’ and having those thoughts was an important negotiating tool when it came to her Vegas gig. There will be zero conflict and she is excited to do both gigs. She loves being busy and she is an amazing businesswoman, so this is just another piece to her brand.”

Since additional information is scarce, let’s enjoy some of Lopez’s recent work.

Amazing Johnathan, Longtime Vegas Magician, Says He Has One Year to Live

Amazing Johnathan, once a regular performer in Las Vegas, said at a public event he has just a year to live.

The revelation was made at a speaking engagement in downtown Las Vegas on Oct. 21, 2014, and was reported by John Katsilometes. Read more.

Amazing Johnathan

Amazing Johnathan has a huge following in, of all places, Australia.

Amazing Johnathan, whose real names is Johnathan Szeles, has struggled with cardiomyopathy (a weakening of the heart muscle) for years, and has been ineligible for a heart transplant because of diabetes.

Szeles was saying he has a year to live as far back as March of 2014, so it’s difficult to tell where things stand or if they’ve recently gotten worse, but the prognosis isn’t good.

Szeles said he is retired, no longer able to perform due to his medical condition. He also said his final shows were at the famed Magic Castle in Los Angeles in July 2014.

His most recent gig in a Las Vegas run spanning 13 years was a short engagement at Bally’s Las Vegas that ended badly and very publicly. An earlier run at Sahara also ended badly and very publicly.

Our encounters with Amazing Johnathan have always been pleasant, and we wish him all the best.