Monthly Archives: December 2016

Alon’s Plug is Finally, Officially, Sadly, Mercifully Yanked

After months and months of speculation, Crown Resorts, the company behind the Alon (pronounced AY-lawn) resort project has sadly announced the project is officially dead, expired, bereft of life and has joined the bleeding choir invisible.

Sadly, but not unexpectedly.

Alon Las Vegas

Look, we all grieve in our own way.

The Alon project has a long and tumultuous history we do not have time to look into, even in the most superficial way.

Suffice to say, Alon was to be a sprawling, high-end resort just across from Wynn Las Vegas. It was supposed to cost upwards of $1.6 billion, but recent shifts in the Malaysian markets, whatever those might be, made financing the endeavor a challenge to say the least.

You can read more about the drama surrounding Crown Resorts here, but fair warning, it’s really boring.

The bottom line is we won’t be getting this much-anticipated, 1,100-room hotel-casino, emphasis on casino. Hopes were high Alon might become a reality, with executives swearing the project was moving forward even though evidence pointed to the contrary.

Nary a shovel ever hit the dirt at the Alon site, and at the moment, it’s a giant dirt lot with a small building at its southern tip. Which sounds like a euphemism for something, if you ask us.

Alon Las Vegas

In March 2016, Alon’s CEO Andrew Pascal was quoted say, “We have the right team, the right idea, the right timing and the right location.” Three out of four ain’t bad.

News of the demise of the Alon project is disappointing in myriad ways.

Primarily, we love new Las Vegas things. There will be others, but this one had all the makings of something truly special, in large part because of the talent assembled to make it happen.

Alon’s executive team included former Wynn Resorts executive Andrew Pascal, former SLS president Rob Oseland, Danielle Babilino, former Senior V.P. of Hotel Sales at Wynn Las Vegas, and Las Vegas nightlife whiz Jesse Waits.

What might have been.

Given the implosion of Alon, now all eyes will be on its neighbor, Resorts World, another massive resort project that appears to be stalled. Thanks a lot, Malaysian markets.

Here’s hoping somebody with deep pockets snaps up the Alon site and builds something big and shiny and stocked with Captain Morgan. Or whatever liquor you’re into that’s not nearly as good.

Security Breach: El Cortez Begins Creation of Imbibe Bar

Way back in Jan. 2016, we caught wind of a new bar coming to El Cortez, the classic hotel on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

At last, the hotel’s current casino bar has been closed and Imbibe bar is in the works.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

Yes, even if it’s just a curtain, it qualifies as a security breach. You’re quite the stickler, aren’t you?

The hotel has made no official announcement about the bar, it’s closure, any expansion
or even the bar’s name. Just go with it, anyway.

Naturally, we had to peek behind the drapes to see what’s up inside.

El Cortez Imbibe bar

The future home of Captain Morgan spiced rum and possibly other kinds of liquor we care much less about.

Presumably, the new Imbibe bar will try to appeal to a younger crowd. From what we hear, there’s already a strong millennial presence on Fridays and Saturdays. El Cortez benefits from all the surrounding restaurants and bars (think Gold Spike and Commonwealth) in the Fremont East District.

We did a walk-through of Fremont East so you can get your bearings.

Staffers say not only is the bar being renovated, but it’s expanding beyond the current casino bar’s footprint, and could potentially swallow the area where the keno parlor resides. (The keno desk would then be relocated to the hotel’s sports book area.)

El Cortez Imbibe lounge

Cornhole and foosball in 3…2…

We’ll keep an eye on the new bar at El Cortez, of course, but in the meantime, you’ll want to take advantage of a new promotion at the historic casino.

Here’s a thingy because we’re too drunk to relay the details.

El Cortez promotion

We refuse to do math unless it directly benefits us. This is that.

So, that’s cool, right? You’re making a withdrawal from the ATM, anyway, so why not get some free slot play?

Once you make your ATM withdrawal, head to the casino cage. There, you’ll be given a certificate for free play. Take the certificate to the loyalty club desk, and the free play is put on your club card.

El Cortez promotion

Vast fortunes have been won in Las Vegas with $15. Actual results may vary.

Now, win something and stick it to The Man. Winning with free play is even sweeter than the regular kind of winning, promise.

Taco Bell Cantina Hits Jackpot on Las Vegas Strip

Taco Bell Cantina has opened on the Las Vegas Strip, and the place has been blowing up since day one. In the “slaying” way, not the Homeland Security way. Don’t make it awkward.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

Taco Bell restaurants serve more than two billion customers a year, and boy are their brazos tired.

The new restaurant is the fourth Taco Bell Cantina, and the 7,000th Taco Bell. The opening of the restaurant coincided with the company’s launch of a new logo, the first time the logo has been revamped in 25 years. In other words, longer than the entire lifetime of its average customer.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

The new Taco Bell is prominently featured on the restaurant’s second floor, home to lots of young people discussing the importance of being on fleek.

The Las Vegas Taco Bell Cantina is located at Harmon Corner, home to one of the best restaurants in the world, Twin Peaks, as well as Rainforest Cafe. It’s across the street from Cosmopolitan. The location is a little tricky, but that doesn’t seem to be deterring the massive crowds.

Taco Bell Cantina on the Las Vegas Strip features tapas-style plates (exclusive to Cantinas) meant to be shared with your crew. Or, alternatively, your squad.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

All Tex-Mex food is some combination of tortillas, meat, cheese and lettuce. So, throw a dart.

During our visit, the place was absolutely packed, mostly with millennials. We asked an employee about the crowds, and she said, “It’s been like this since we opened, all day and night, and we never close.”

Translation: Taco Bell Cantina is printing money, and a big part of that relates to the hooch.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

We are not making this up. It’s crushing it.

A centerpiece to the restaurant is a “Freeze” wall offering up a variety of slushies.

The eight flavors are margarita, cola, pina colada, lemonade, orange, Baja blast, cherry and blue raspberry.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

Hooch, with a twist.

Once you choose your flavor, you choose a liquor to add: tequila, rum, vodka, whiskey or spiced rum.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

Drinking a slushie is like catching an Uber to our happy place.

The Freezes, with liquor, run $9.99 for regular and $14.99 for a Souvenir Twisted Yard. That’s significantly less expensive than other slushie offerings nearby, so the price point, in combination with cheap, familiar food, has quickly made Taco Bell Cantina a go-to spot for satisfying, and fueling, one’s drunchies.

There’s also beer, if that’s more your speed. The beer glasses fill up from the bottom. It’s fun.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

How do beer glasses fill from the bottom? Fridge magnets. Consider it a free keepsake after you down your brew.

Taco Bell Cantina is a big space, including a patio and upper floor which has a DJ booth. Because in Las Vegas, it’s the law.

There’s a patio with ample space to Netflix or chill or whatever the kids are doing now. Smashing. That’s a thing, right? Hey, the news release said “Taco Bell is going all in,” so, the kids are obviously not the only ones smashing.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

The two-story Taco Bell Cantina is a Taco Bell on steroids. Sorry, “esteroides.”

Taco Bell Cantina may just hit the spot during your Las Vegas Strip adventures, and casino owners would do well to observe the legions of young customer flocking to the establishment.

Taco Bell Cantina Las Vegas

These pub-inspired soda taps make it so children can pretend they’re about to embark on a Las Vegas escapade.

In Vegas, it’s not always about winning a James Beard Award, it’s about winning hearts and dollars.

Taco Bell Cantina

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 35: Behind the Green Door Swingers Club and More

Strap on your earbuds, you’re in for a wild ride!

In this episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast, we take a room-by-room, eye-opening guided tour of the world-famous Green Door swingers club, just off the Las Vegas Strip.

Green Door Las Vegas

The Green Door: Providing Las Vegas with some fairly epic WTF since 1998.

There’s also the usual blather, including all the latest Las Vegas news: Taco Bell Cantina opens, El Cortez renovates its casino bar, Heart Attack Grill comes to The Strip, Cosmopolitan starts charging for parking, the U.S. trademark office rejects Sin City’s NHL team name, Giordano’s is set to open at Grand Bazaar Shops, Gordon Ramsay will take over Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace and bajillionaire Sheldon Adelson loses $3 billion in 30 minutes.

So, yeah, it’s the Green Door!

Take a listen to the podcast your mother warned you about, right before we sexted her.

Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo May Have the Best Happy Hour Deal in Las Vegas

Given all the happy hour deals to be found in Las Vegas, it takes a lot to get our attention. Margaritaville Casino at Flamingo Las Vegas just did.

Margaritaville Casino, a casino-within-a-casino, is currently offering five-cent beers each day at its 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar, 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Margaritaville casino happy hour

Once thought to be extinct, a genuine casino loss leader has been spotted at Flamingo.

The happy hour deal has no small print, caveats or asterisks, so drink up.

While you’re there, you may also want to take advantage of the newly-unfurled beer pong tables. Just about every casino on The Strip is trying to lure younger customers, and beer pong seems an effective, low-cost way to do that. Social games for the win!

Margaritaville Casino beer pong

If you’re unfamiliar with beer pong, it’s just an excuse to drink a lot. You know, like having children.

There’s also a DJ at Margaritaville Casino, but don’t let that deter you from going.

The beer pong and music marketing strategy has worked wonders at O’Sheas inside the Linq hotel, right next door to Flamingo. The lively spot is the most profitable area in the entire Linq casino.

We’re always on the lookout for great deals on The Strip, especially when they’re hooch-related, so send your favorites our way.

Pete Rose Bar & Grill Is Out, Heart Attack Grill Is In

Nobody saw this one coming, but the former Pete Rose Bar & Grill on the Las Vegas Strip will soon be replaced by Heart Attack Grill.

The Pete Rose Sports Bar & Grill opened in Oct. 2015, but struggled almost immediately. In Aug. 2016, Rose’s name was unceremoniously removed from the restaurant’s signage, and business ties with the slugger were severed.

The restaurant was stripped of its baseball theme and continued to flounder, until finally being euthanized this week.

Heart Attack Grill Strip

Easiest “Wheel of Fortune” puzzle, ever.

The new Heart Attack Grill, located in the Hawaiian Marketplace shopping complex, near the closed Harley-Davidson Cafe, will be the restaurant’s second location in Las Vegas.

The original Heart Attack Grill is a fixture at Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas.

The new restaurant is festooned with a sign reading, “Now hiring hot nurses.”

Heart Attack Grill Strip

We honestly can’t decide which turns us on more, “hot nurses” or the word “festooned.”

Heart Attack Grill is one of the most WTF-infused restaurants in all of Las Vegas. Customers must wear hospital gowns, and waitresses dressed as nurses paddle guests if they’re unable to finish their burgers.

One of Heart Attack Grill’s signature offers is customers who weigh 350 pounds or more dine free. And, yes, people have died of “apparent heart attacks” at Heart Attack Grill.

No opening date for the new Heart Attack Grill has been announced, but a good deal of work has already been done to the restaurant’s interior.

Heart Attack Grill Strip

This venue needs an infusion of profitability, stat. Or something.

While we’ve never eaten at Heart Attack Grill, we’ve always enjoyed the restaurant’s playful irreverence. We’ve just never been able to tell if the humor is tongue-in-cheek or not.

Heart Attack Grill

Sort of on board with this one.

Thanks to alert reader Jeremiah for sharing this scoop.

Las Vegas is full of surprises, and we’ll keep a close eye on the new Heart Attack Grill. Because you never know what might be festooned next.