Monthly Archives: May 2016

The Park Isn’t a Park, But It’s a Great New Restaurant Row on the Las Vegas Strip

We should probably say this right up front. The Park isn’t a park.

What is it, then? The Park is a pedestrian promenade, located between New York-New York and Monte Carlo, featuring a collection of restaurants and bars. Oh, and a giant naked woman.

Let’s get some requisite snark out of the way and we’ll dive right into this shiny new offering on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Park billboard

We can’t help it.

The Park comes from the folks at MGM Resorts, and takes advantage of some new energy and foot traffic being generated by the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena.

While The Park doesn’t have grass or wildlife, it does have sass and nightlife. Yes, we made that up all on our own.

The Park

The entrance to The Park is unmistakable thanks to two long walls of cascading water. The stroll between the walls is not to be mist. See what we did there?

The opening of any new restaurant on The Strip is newsworthy, but an impressive four restaurants opened simultaneously at The Park. No small feat.

Here’s a quick look at The Park set to the music of one of the best bands in recorded history.

The four new restaurants at The Park are Bruxie, Beerhaus, California Pizza Kitchen and Sake Rok. (MGM Resorts includes Shake Shack on the list of restaurants at The Park, but it’s been around awhile and is really more a part of New York-New York than The Park, so we’re skipping it. We’re rebellious like that.)

Here’s a quick look at each new spot to eat, drink and potentially hook up with a complete stranger. Hey, a blog can dream.

First up, Bruxie.


Bruxie offers pure cane sugar sodas, but we won’t hold that against it.

Bruxie, possibly a play on Brussels—we are a blog, not a etymologist—is an offshoot of a restaurant in Orange County, California.


Sign up for the Bruxie loyalty club and get a $5 credit. Find out more.

The restaurant’s hook is using waffles for its sandwiches rather than bread.

You can get up all inside the Bruxie menu.

Bruxie waffle restaurant

Should we order another Bruxie sandwich or not. See, we’re waffling. These are the jokes.

Next is Beerhaus. It’s described as “a remix of the American beer hall.” Beer halls aren’t really American, but we sort of have to take credit for everything.


We tried to count all the kinds of beer at Beerhaus, but our abacus melted.

This beer garden (another misnomer, as there’s no actual garden involved) has an extensive list of (wait for it) beer, as well as games like foosball, shuffleboard and ping pong. Mainly because such games are now required at any new Las Vegas venue that might want to appeal to Millennials.


So many new bars, so little time.

Here’s the Beerhaus menu if you prefer actual useful information rather than our pointless rambling.


Beerhaus makes it easy to grab some grub with your suds. Say that five times fast.

Next to Beerhaus is California Pizza Kitchen, a known quantity for many Las Vegas visitors.


We seem to recall reading somewhere that this is the world’s largest California Pizza Kitchen. Take that, California. And the 15 countries where there are California Pizza Kitchens.

California Pizza Kitchen, or “CPK,” as people with short attention spans refer to it, is reliably good, and the outpost at The Park ups the ante with dishes not available at other locations. We don’t exactly know which dishes, as that would involve “taking notes” or “exerting minimal effort,” which is clearly not happening anytime soon. Here’s more.

CPK Las Vegas

Yes, CPK has a bar. Perfect for when you’re flying solo. You should probably have that growth looked at, by the way.

The final stop on our virtual tour is Sake Rok.

The interior of Sake Rok is the most visually stunning of all the restaurants in The Park.

Sake Rok

Sake Rok has its own private sake label. A fact you’re 95% likely to forget immediately after your first shot of sake.

The menu has, perhaps not surprisingly, a Japanese thrust. There’s also sake at Sake Rok. This isn’t rocket science.

Sake Rok

Sake Rok is so beautiful, we’re going to let the whole “social dining” concept slide.

We’re looking forward to our next visit to Sake Rok despite this phrase in The Park’s news release, “By night, Sake Rok transforms into a high-profile social dining extravaganza, immersing guests in an experience part culinary, part performance and completely unexpected.”

Other than that, and threats of “lip-sync serenades,” we’re completely up for another outing to Sake Rok.

Sake Rok Godzilla

We’re pretty sure Sake Rok can’t say this is Godzilla, so we’ll just go with “a fire-breathing reptile of indeterminate origin that looks a metric hell-ton like Godzilla.”

One of the best aspects of Sake Rok is an upstairs patio area, overlooking The Park and the new Park Theater at Monte Carlo.

Sake Rok

The view from Sake Rok’s patio is already a stunner, and the theater isn’t even done yet.

Pretty much all of the new restaurants at The Park have an outdoor patio, space which is lovely for the three months of the year in Las Vegas with temperate weather.

One of the most appealing parts of The Park is what it doesn’t have, specifically, shopping.

Early plans for The Park promenade had a significant retail component, but that was before MGM Resorts decided it would expand the Monte Carlo theater in preparation for a rebrand of the hotel.

The Park

Your view as you exit the New York-New York parking lot via some sweet new escalators.

That change of course meant the retail aspect of The Park was given the boot, making the area nearly retail-free, a refreshing change from recent trends in Las Vegas.

In case you’re still having trouble picturing what’s where at The Park, we did a walk-through of the entire promenade. Take a look if you find yourself with far, far too much free time.

A distinctive element of The Park is the towering Bliss Dance statue seen at the end of that video. The 40-foot-tall sculpture was created by Marco Cochrane and is lit by about 3,000 colored LED lights.

Bliss Dance

The newest must-have selfie on the Las Vegas Strip, Bliss Dance.

Bliss Dance is intended to convey female empowerment and strength. To most casual observers, however, the sculpture conveys booty.

Bliss Dance

She’s even beautiful in the daylight.

Also dotting The Park are massive, trumpet-shaped shade structures.

The 16 structures range in height from 55 feet to 75 feet tall, and are illuminated once the sun sets.

The Park shade structures

The Park’s shade structures were made by a ship building company and took 32,000 man hours to construct. Sorry, “person hours.” Oh, who are we kidding? They were mostly dudes.

Overall, The Park has something for everyone, and serves as a convenient place to meet friends, dine and drink. Especially that drinking thing.

The prices throughout The Park are what you’d expect on The Strip. Elevated, but not outrageous.

The Park

Jokes aside, the attention to detail at The Park is remarkable. Approximately a bajillion small tiles line the promenade, and all were laid by hand.

For the most part, restaurants open mid-morning and close around midnight weekdays and at 2:00 a.m. or so on weekends. The hours are different at each venue, though, so check the official Web site for details.

And make sure to check out the schedule of entertainment and special events at The Park.

While The Park restaurant district isn’t a park, per se, it’s well worth a visit and offers up a fun, diverse new addition to the Las Vegas Strip.

We took a bunch of photos of The Park, so pace yourself. Let us know what you think of The Park.

The Park Las Vegas

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 15: Topgolf, MGM Resorts Parking Lowdown and More

Against all odds, it’s time for another unsatisfying episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast!

This time around, we talk Steve Wynn doing a downtown zipline, Topgolf’s smashing debut, Fremont casino’s 60th birthday and whatever else happened to spill from our mouth during our drunken stupor.

Topgolf Las Vegas

You’ll be hearing a lot more about Topgolf Las Vegas. We loved it, and we’re not even a golf person.

We also tip our hat to the 360 Vegas Podcast. The show recently hosted its 360 Vegas Vacation in Las Vegas, and thanks to the poor judgment of its organizer, we were invited.

Also in this episode, the final show of our first season, we dive face-first into the details of the new paid parking program at MGM Resorts hotels in Las Vegas. Paid parking begins at a number of MGM Resorts hotels on the Las Vegas Strip on June 6, 2016.

We also shamelessly recycle a recent blog post about the recent birthday of the cheese-filled classic, “Viva Las Vegas.”

Join the Las Vegas fun and take a listen. It’s a wonderful excuse to avoid spending more time with your family!

15 Things You Didn’t Know About “Viva Las Vegas”

On May 20, 1964, “Viva Las Vegas,” starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret, was released.

Fifty-two years later, the film remains inexorably woven into the fabric of its namesake city. Las Vegas. Please try and keep up.

Viva Las Vegas

“Viva Las Vegas” translates as “Long live the meadows!” Thanks for ruining everything, knowledge.

Here’s an attention span-friendly list of some things you may not know about this delicious wedge of Las Vegas cheese.

1. “Viva Las Vegas” was made for a million dollars. It grossed $10 million, a massive amount of profit for the era.

2. Director Steven Spielberg named “Viva Las Vegas” one of his all-time favorite movies.

3. There’s a scene in the film where Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret marry. Tabloids of the day shared photos of the movie wedding, claiming the two had actually gotten married.

Viva Las Vegas

The public loved this pairing. Priscilla, not so much.

4. While they didn’t wed, Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret did begin an affair on the set of “Viva Las Vegas.” Ann-Margret later said Elvis sent her flowers in the shape of a guitar whenever she began a new Las Vegas engagement.

5. The movie’s most recognizable song, “Viva Las Vegas,” is the de facto theme song of Sin City. In the movie, when Presley performs the song, it’s done as a one long, unedited shot. It’s the only time that technique was used in any Presley movie.

6. One of the guitar players on the “Viva Las Vegas” soundtrack was singer and actor Glen Campbell.

7. Actress Teri Garr appeared in “Viva Las Vegas” as a showgirl extra. Garr appeared as an extra in nine Elvis Presley films. She went on to star in “Tootsie,” “Young Frankenstein” and “Mr. Mom.”

8. The film’s director was George Sidney. He also directed hit musicals like “Bye Bye Birdie” (which Ann-Margret starred in), “Pal Joey” and “Show Boat.”

9. In Great Britain, “Viva Las Vegas” was sold as “Love in Las Vegas.” That’s because another film called “Viva Las Vegas” was already showing in British theaters.

10. In the film’s closing scene, the stars are married in the Little Church of the West, which is still around today (although it’s moved location a couple of times). It’s the oldest wedding chapel in Las Vegas.

12. In the movie, Ann-Margret’s character was named Rusty Martin. Presley’s nickname for her was “Rusty Ammo.” He also called her “Scoobie” and “Thumper.”


Photos of Ann-Margret were the precursors of Internet porn.

13. During the filming of “Viva Las Vegas,” the movie’s director took heat because it seemed he was giving Ann-Margret favorable camera angles at The King’s expense. Presley’s manager, Colonel Parker, confronted the film’s producers to ensure Presley remained the movie’s featured performer.

14. In the film, Presley’s character loses the money he needs to replace his race car’s engine when he’s pushed in the Flamingo’s pool by Rusty. Presley’s longtime double, Lance LeGault, actually fell into the pool. LeGault’s voice is the one used in the audio tour at Graceland. LeGault later became a character actor, with recurring roles in shows like “The A-Team” and “Magnum, P.I.” Just nod like you know what we’re talking about, Millennials.

Viva Las Vegas

Ann-Margret’s full name was Ann-Margret Olsson. She saved a lot on ink by using just Ann-Margret.

15. Filming was done in numerous Las Vegas locations. They include the parking lot at the Sahara Hotel (where the cast stayed during the shoot, now SLS Las Vegas), Lake Mead marina, the Frontier Hotel, the University of Nevada Las Vegas gym, McCarran airport, the aforementioned Flamingo’s pool and, oddly, at a skeet shooting range at the Tropicana.

Yes, at one time, the Tropicana had a skeet range, despite it being quite close to the Las Vegas airport. Now, you know!

Happy birthday to “Viva Las Vegas,” a true cinematic classic. And by “classic,” of course, we mean “you probably shouldn’t try to watch it all at once, but it’s fairly entertaining in small doses, assuming you’re drink, and let’s face it, that’s a pretty safe bet.”

Riviera Demolition Imagery Will Make You Feel Things

Demolition of the Riviera casino is progressing at a startling pace, and we’ve got the latest pics and video to prove it.

Riviera Las Vegas demolition

If all we are is dust in the wind, the Riviera is quickly becoming us.

Work crews are tearing down a number of buildings simultaneously, cleaning up the rubble as they go.

Here’s a video of the Riviera demolition that your children’s children will play for their children to show them how Las Vegas hotels were taken down before the invention of Death Stars. Or something.

The speed and efficiency of the work being done is truly impressive. Props to W.A. Richardson Builders LLC, whomever that might actually be.

The company is responsible for demolishing about a dozen low-rise structures on the Riviera site, in preparation for implosions of the hotel’s two main towers. Implosions of those towers are expected in June and August.

Riviera demolition

Cranes and dozers and asbestos abatement, oh, my.

Recently flattened structures include the Riviera’s convention center and parking garage.

Even the Riviera’s once-flashy facade is being dismantled.

Riviera demolition

The Riviera’s facade is currently advertising the entire list of magician Jan Rouven’s legal defenses.

The Riviera site is scheduled to be part of a Las Vegas Convention Center expansion. Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?

Riviera neon

Yes, they’re tossing lots of vintage Vegas neon. This is the point where we turn into a blubbering idiot. Although, admittedly, that really only involves the addition of blubbering.

Take a look at our previous Riviera demolition coverage if your tear ducts can take it.

Yes, the closure and demolition of The Riv is progress, but it’s also a loss of Las Vegas culture and history. Riviera opened on April 20, 1955.

We’re going to need a minute.

Riviera Demolition Update: May 18, 2016

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Steve Wynn’s So Serious About His Waterpark, He Rode SlotZilla (Twice)

Props to Steve Wynn for going the extra mile for his proposed Wynn Paradise Park.

The 74-year-old casino mogul took a field trip to learn more about zip lines, which he’s expected to have at his new waterpark, and rode on downtown’s SlotZilla zipline. Twice.

Steve Wynn SlotZilla

That time you thought you’d seen everything in Las Vegas, then you saw a billionaire riding a zipline.

Wynn first rode SlotZilla’s upper Zoomline (riders fly prone, superhero-style), then returned to try the lower Zipline (seated).

He was accompanied by his wife, Andrea, DeRuyter Butler (in the blue shirt), Executive Vice President of Architecture, Wynn Design & Development (who Wynn described as his “lead designer”) and a lone bodyguard (at right, below).

Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn was born Stephen Alan Weinberg. Now, we just refer to him as “Badass.”

While Steve Wynn’s vision is severely impaired—he suffers from an eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa—he was fearless as he flew over Fremont Street. He was gracious to everyone he encountered, too.

Steve Wynn

Steve Wynn and friends take the express route down Fremont Street.

Recently, Steve Wynn announced an ambitious new project, the $1.6 billion Wynn Paradise Park.

During his visit to SlotZilla (this blog works at Fremont Street Experience, by the way, which includes SlotZilla), Wynn was overheard saying he believes Wynn Paradise Park will be the “most visually stunning project” of his career. Which is saying a lot. It’s flipping Steve Wynn.

Here’s a video from the folks at Crystal Lagoons, responsible for making the new lagoon’s water blue and sparkly.

The project will feature a lake and mile-long boardwalk. Yes, a mile long. There will also be a white sand beach, as well as water skiing, paddle boarding and parasailing. There will also be nightly fireworks.

Wynn Paradise Park is planned for the 130-acre Wynn Golf Club, to the east of Wynn and Encore.

We had a little trouble imagining where that is, so we took to the skies to see what the hell’s going on back there. Let’s just say it’s a jaw-dropper.

Wynn Golf Club is seriously one of the hidden treasures of the Las Vegas Strip. Many locals and visitors drive by often, but never realize it’s back there.

We knew it was back there, but had no idea it looked like this.

Wynn Golf Club

Ridiculously gorgeous.

The existing golf course generates about $5 million a year, but the new waterpark could bring upwards of $300 million a year according to analysts.

During his SlotZilla visit, Wynn said he expects Wynn Paradise Park could draw 15,000 people a day. No admission price has been announced yet, but it’s likely to be at least $20.

These numbers are all the more ambitious when you consider Wynn has said he plans to limit access to Wynn Paradise Park to those 18 or older.

Beyond the lake, Wynn Paradise Park will include a new, 1,000-room hotel tower, new restaurants, a small casino and 260,000 square feet of meeting space.

Wynn Paradise Park

This rendering of Wynn Paradise Park was outdated the minute it was rendered. Steve Wynn dreams big, so expect lots of tweaks as the project progresses.

Steve Wynn’s visit downtown must have brought back some bittersweet memories. His rise as one of the most influential personalities in Las Vegas began when he owned downtown’s Golden Nugget, after owning a small stake in the Frontier.

During his tenure at Golden Nugget, Wynn proposed several attractions for Fremont Street, including canals (like the ones at Venetian) and a parade of suspended floats (like the shuttered “Show in the Sky” at Rio). He was a driving force in the creation of the Fremont Street Experience canopy.

Later, he was responsible for the Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio and his current resorts, Wynn and Encore.

Wynn’s newest effort, Wynn Paradise Park, is expected to open in 2020, with construction beginning in late 2016.

Wynn Paradise Park

It’s claimed Wynn Paradise Park would use 30 times less water than the 18-hole golf course currently on the site.

We honestly didn’t know what to think when Wynn Paradise Park was announced, but seeing Steve Wynn flying on SlotZilla, we have no reason to doubt he’ll make his waterpark a reality.

While Steve Wynn’s vision may be failing, no one can deny he’s a Las Vegas visionary.

Downtown Grand’s Stewart + Odgen to Get Renovation and Rebrand as Freedom Beat

Fresh from the relaunch of its Citrus pool deck, Downtown Grand is set to rebrand its restaurant offering, Stewart + Odgen, as Freedom Beat.

It’s expected Stewart + Odgen will close for the do-over, but no specifics or timeline have been announced.

Stewart + Ogden Freedom Beat

Fun fact: When Stewart + Ogden opened, Downtown Grand made up a ridiculous story about Stewart and Ogden being real people who actually existed. Food based upon lies never tastes as good as food based upon truth.

Freedom Beat will be a collaboration with 34th Floor Hospitality, the company responsible for the Citrus rebrand.

34th Floor Hospitality is the same company behind Inna Gotta di Pizza and Pawn Donut & Coffee at downtown’s Pawn Plaza, and one of the partners, Ralph Cautela, was involved in The Pizzeria (also known as “Secret Pizza”) at Cosmopolitan.

The new restaurant at Downtown Grand will feature American fare, but other details about the menu and interior design aren’t available yet.

Design services will be provided by Bunnyfish Studio, a company that’s been involved with a number of downtown Las Vegas projects including Nacho Daddy, Wayfarer Bar and Inspire Theater, Carson Kitchen, Perch at Downtown Container Park (pictured below) and Eat restaurant.

Aside from Bunnyfish’s seeming obsession with infuriatingly hard chairs, they make nice things.

The Perch

Perch follows the pattern of good food, great service, chairs that cause temporary paralysis.

Staff at Stewart + Ogden aren’t sure of the scope of the new Freedom Beat restaurant (or what the name is intended to convey), but some suspect the former Red Mansion restaurant space may be integrated into the new space.

Stewart + Odgen has gotten mixed reviews in the past. Our first visit, just after it opened, was fairly awful, but the menu and quality of food improved significantly after a revamp by former Central (formerly at Caesars Palace) chef Todd Harrington.

Downtown Grand remains one of the underappreciated gems of downtown Las Vegas, and a new restaurant offering could be another reason to stop by.

More news about Freedom Beat as it become edible.