Monthly Archives: March 2017

Armed Robbers Hit Rolex Store Inside Bellagio, Resort Goes on Lockdown

A Rolex store named Tesorini at Bellagio was robbed in the early morning hours of March 25, 2017, prompting reports of an “active shooter” (later proven to be false) and general chaos at the high-end Strip resort.

Several news outlets passed along social media posts by witnesses, with conflicting information about the robbery.

A Twitter post shows an armed robber wearing a pig mask outside the Rolex store. Other masks included a cat mask and panda mask.

Bellagio Rolex robbery

Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.

The robber in the photo was one of four suspects involved in the burglary.

The four robbers carried sledge hammers, presumably to assist with smashing the store entrance and jewelry display cases.

The store was closed at the time of the robbery (about 12:50 a.m.). We’re thinking authorities can eliminate rocket scientists from the pool of suspects, as luxury shops generally remove merchandise from display cases overnight. Rolex watches can cost $30,000 or more.

Early reports said at least one of the suspects fired shots inside the Rolex store during the robbery, but authorities later stated witnesses actually heard glass breaking.

One robber, Sebastian Gonzalez, was quickly apprehended by police. Reports suggest the suspect was captured in the Bellagio’s parking garage. Here’s another Twitter pic of the suspect being led out by police.

Bellagio Las Vegas

Asshats in pig masks are why we can’t have nice things.

The robbers apparently tried to escape in a vehicle, but the car wouldn’t start. They then tried to carjack another vehicle, then attempted to escape by foot.

As word of the robbery spread, dozens of guests fled Bellagio (described by several witnesses as a “stampede”), and the casino floor of the neighboring Cosmopolitan was evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has confirmed there were no injuries as a result of the robbery.

Bellagio, owned by MGM Resorts International, has been the site of other robberies and attempted robberies. Probably because that’s where all the money is. Please try and keep up.

In 2010, card-carrying bonehead (and son of a Las Vegas judge) Tony Carleo stole $1 million in chips from the craps pit at Bellagio while wearing a motorcycle helmet. Carleo is currently serving 3-11 years in jail for his misadventure.

In addition to that real-life heist, the most notorious robbery of Bellagio was fictional. Bellagio was one of the targets in “Oceans Eleven.”

Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts Three New Venues: Redneck Riviera, Born and Raised, Giordano’s

There’s been a flurry of activity at Grand Bazaar Shops outside Bally’s Las Vegas in recent months, including the unveiling of three shiny new venues: Giordano’s, Redneck Riviera and the newest offering, Born and Raised.

It’s time to explore these new venues as only we can—superficially, and with generous amounts of snark so we don’t fall asleep at the keyboard.

First up is Redneck Riviera. Redneck Riviera is a country bar, founded by John Rich of the country duo Big & Rich.

Redneck Riviera

We are not a country music person, so we honestly wouldn’t recognize a Big & Rich song if it were stapled to our forehead.

Redneck Riviera is billed as “a Vegas experience like none-other.” No, they actually say that, in writing. What makes Redneck Riviera so different? “Great music, great drinks, great people!” We are not making this up.

If you want to stand out from other bars in Las Vegas, you have to give customers something they can’t get anywhere else, and you certainly can’t find great music, great drinks or great people, so Rednect Riviera is pretty much guaranteed to succeed.

Hey, we warned you about the snark.

Redneck Riviera

You know, just the typical Las Vegas marketing strategy of having young women stand on barrels.

Beyond the country music and any number of white people attempting to dance, Redneck Riviera also has some great decorative touches.

First, there’s a saddle-shaped disco ball over the dance floor.

Redneck Riviera

It’s like the love child of John Wayne and Liberace. Millennial translation: Oh, nevermind.

There’s also an American flag fashioned from beer cans over one of the establishment’s two bars.

Redneck Riviera


In the men’s room, you’ll find urinals made from beer kegs. They’re so cool, we’re tempted to listen to a portion of a country song.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

This is going directly to the top of our list of offbeat Las Vegas photo ops.

Also in the restroom are sinks made from tires. The faucets are gas pumps. Seriously charming.

Redneck Riviera bathroom

You’re welcome, Asian tour groups.

One of the best selling points of Redneck Riviera is it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.

The vibe is casual and often rowdy, the staff is friendly, and Redneck Riviera serves a niche clientele likely to stray from Toby Keith’s restaurant at Harrah’s and Gilley’s at Treasure Island to give this new honky-tonk hangout a try.

Next, we move to Born and Raised.

Born and Raised is an offshoot of an existing, locally-owned bar and pub. Named Born and Raised. Please try and keep up.

Born and Raised

St. Paddy’s Day seemed a good day to visit, hoochwise.

Born and Raised at Grand Bazaar Shops is technically named “Born and Raised CRAFT PUB.” Seriously. The “craft pub” is capitalized in all the media and marketing materials.

It’s as if Born and Raised suddenly contracted Tourette Syndrome.

Born and Raised has a tiny footprint, even by Grand Bazaar Shops standards. The bar has seating for about 14 people inside, with another 12 seats just outside.

Born and Raised

Born and Raised is so small you could fit it in your pocket. But don’t. That’s shoplifting.

While other Born and Raised locations in Las Vegas serve food, the Grand Bazaar Shops outpost does not. Which is probably for the best, as we recently had our first encounter with Born and Raised’s food, and it fell firmly into the “Meh” category.

Yes, “Meh” is a category. Other categories include “Mind-Blowing” (Pizza Rock, downtown), “Forgettable” (Beerhaus at The Park), “Regrettable” (The Still at Mirage) and “It’ll Do in a Pinch, Especially If We’re Wasted” (everywhere else on The Strip).

Born and Raised

We look forward to getting to know each and every Born and Raised cocktail personally.

Born and Raised offers a menu of signature cocktails, each runs $13. There is also beer, although we have never personally had a beer, so we aren’t able to comment upon the breadth or quality of the selection.

Finally, we get all up inside Giordano’s.

Giordano’s is a name that may sound familiar. The chain is known for its Chicago-style stuffed deep dish pizza.

Giordano's Las Vegas

Giordano’s sits astride a Starbucks that once announced it would serve liquor. Never happened, to our chagrin, whatever a “chagrin” might actually be.

Giordano’s has gone malls deep into Grand Bazaar Shops, with what amounts to three locations. There’s the second floor main restaurant, another dining area and bar on the ground level (fancifully called the Grand Allee walkway), and there’s also a walk-up window.

Giordano's Grand Bazaar Shops

The Giordano surname has its roots in “Yarden,” the Hebrew name of the Jordan river. Yes, we have exhausted our supply of photo captions.

We’re not going to sugarcoat it, Giordano’s is disappointing on any number of levels.

First, the wait time if you order pizza is agonizing. It took nearly an hour to get our simple cheese pizza, and the restaurant was pretty much empty.

During our wait, staff was sweeping up and mopping, one of our biggest pet peeves in any restaurant. (We were there two hours before closing time, but it was obvious employees were champing at the bit to close up shop.) Adding to the unpleasantness of our visit, staff members were moving chairs around the dining room not by lifting them, but by dragging them, lending the restaurant roughly the same welcoming ambiance as a smoke detector testing facility.

Giordano's Las Vegas

We predict only one of the Giordano’s spaces will survive. It’s anybody’s guess which.

It was only after our pizza arrived that the WTF began in earnest.

Stuffed pizza isn’t actually pizza, it turns out. It’s 14 pounds of melted cheese ladled onto a flaky, flavorless crust. A layer of sauce sits on the cheese, clearly embarrassed to be part of such a bastardization of the world’s greatest food.

Giordano's pizza

Fun fact: The word “no” is the same in English and Italian. Apply liberally at Giordano’s.

We’d love to say we’ll be back to try the thin crust pizza at Giordano’s, but why would we when there are so many other, far-more-worthy pizza offerings in the neighborhood? We’d hit Pin-Up Pizza at Planet Hollywood, Martorano’s at Paris or The Pizzeria (also known as “Secret Pizza”) at Cosmopolitan 100 times before doing Giordano’s again.

Sorry, but pizza is serious business, and what they serve at Giordano’s barely qualifies. It’s more like fondue, although that’s probably doing a disservice to fondue.

Here’s a better look at the Giordano’s menu, and here’s the pizza menu, because you wisely don’t blindly trust the opinion of blogs when it comes to pies.

If you love Giordano’s, we love hearing differing viewpoints. Or at least pretend to.

Giordano's Las Vegas

When it doubt, margarita.

It’s great to see Grand Bazaar Shops bringing in new talent. The mall seems to churn through tenants (mall management would owe harsh penalties to Caesars Entertainment, owners of Bally’s, if Grand Bazaar Shops falls below a certain percentage of occupancy), but a few successful bars and restaurants could give some of the millions of people who walk by each year a reason to stop.

It was recently announced Philly Pretzel Factory is coming to Grand Bazaar Shops later in the year. We’re struggling to contain our excitement.

Our friends at Eater Vegas say another restaurant will open across from Giordano’s patio bar, Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. We’ve tried it, and we’re filing that one in the “Forgettable” category, too.

Hey, not everything’s going to stick. Only time will tell which venues will thrive or expire. In Vegas, change is always on the menu.

Grand Bazaar Shops Debuts New Venues

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Lappert’s Ice Cream is So Very Back at The California

Our favorite ice cream place in Las Vegas closed for a renovation, but Lappert’s Ice Cream is back and making us swoon all over again.

Lappert's Ice Cream

Second floor of The Cal, next to the Ethel M chocolate store, because your thighs deserve a vacation, too.

We’re sort of at a loss to say what’s changed about Lappert’s following its renovation, as the current shop is virtually indistinguishable from the previous incarnation.

The Cal Lappert's

Oh, just pretend you see a big difference. The last thing you want is ice cream with hurt feelings.

Something that’s definitely changed is the fact our favorite ice cream flavor is back, specifically, chocolate chip (not mint chocolate chip, that’s as blasphemous as pineapple on pizza).

Lappert's Ice Cream

And all was right with the world.

A couple of the display cases have been upgraded, and it’s possible the decor has been spruced up a bit, but otherwise, it’s the Lappert’s legions of devotees know and love.

The menu remains the same, and Lappert’s still serves up the best shaved ice in Las Vegas along with the best ice cream.

The Cal Lappert's hours

Let’s call this an “infographic.” The kids love infographics.

Downtown’s California casino has been undergoing dramatic changes in its casino, bars and restaurants in recent months. It’s estimated the hotel has invested $40 million in upgrades.

It seems there are more changes to come, and we sleuthed one upon entering The Cal. One of the neon signs, for Dave’s Aloha Bar, has gone dark.

Dave's Bar California

True Vegas fanatics will notice the Main Street Bar remains lit despite it having closed months ago. Sleuthing is an imperfect science.

We poked around a bit and were informed the bar has, indeed, closed, although it’s occasionally used for special events. We couldn’t get anyone to fess up about when, or if, it might be closed for good.

Dave's Bar California

The video poker machines at Dave’s Bar still function, but you’ll need to find a cocktail waitress to get your hooch.

It’s possible the bar is being phased out since the nearby sports book has moved to a new sports book and lounge downstairs.

California sports book

There are no traces of the former sports book at The Cal. Las Vegas is magical like that.

The California is about a block off of Fremont Street, and Lappert’s Ice Cream is well worth the short stroll.

We consider Lappert’s Ice Cream a Las Vegas must-do. Let us know if you agree. If not, keep it to yourself and think about seeking medical assistance because your taste buds may have taken a severe blow to the head.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 44: Axe Monkeys, Escapology, Pop-Up BBQ and More

This week’s installment of the Vital Vegas podcast has so much Vegas, you may have to loosen your belt.

For starters, we chat with one of the co-owners of Axe Monkeys, Barry Tell. Axe Monkeys is something new to do in Las Vegas, involving tossing sharp objects at targets.

Axe Monkeys Las Vegas

Curious where this photo was taken? We thought you’d never axe.

We also take listeners inside another Las Vegas diversion, Escapology. Escapology hosts a collection of escape rooms. Guests must solve a series of puzzles to escape their room in less than 60 minutes.


This is about the only photo we could take at Escapology without ruining the surprises in store.

We also chat up Rex Bernales, the chef behind a new BBQ food truck in a unique location on Fremont Street, downtown. The new pop-up barbecue joint is in a demolition site, cleverly wedged between the former Mermaids and Glitter Gulch strip club.

Project BBQ

Time to give your drunchies a smack-down. With just three sandwiches to choose from, you won’t be overwhelmed with options.

Rest assured this episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast is loaded. Specifically, with tons of Las Vegas news and history. In case you thought we meant the other kind of loaded. Which is also entirely possible.

Dive headlong into our girthiest show yet, with exclusive interviews and insider scoop, all with a metric ass-ton of snark, just for good measure.

10 Ways Visiting Las Vegas is Like Getting a Colonoscopy

When you think of visiting Las Vegas, it’s unlikely the first thing that pops into your mind is “Colonoscopy!”

Surprisingly, though, those two experiences have a lot in common. And probably not in the ways you think.

Here, then, is a hastily-slapped-together list of “10 Ways Visiting Las Vegas is Like Getting a Colonoscopy.” In case that wasn’t clear from the title of this blog post. Please try and keep up.

1. Preparation is Essential

When it comes to visiting Las Vegas, planning is critical. Ditto colonoscopies. The preparation
stage isn’t the most fun, but time spent planning is time well spent. Do your research, think
things through and you’ll get the most out of your visit. Or procedure. Whichever.

Miracle Mile colon art

Hey, you try and find photos that combine Las Vegas with colonoscopies.

2. There Will Be Lots of Drinking Involved

Whether you’re hitting Sin City or getting an endoscopic exam of your large bowel and the distal
part of the small bowel, drinking is going to play a key role. In Vegas, you’ll be drinking to
lose your inhibitions. With a colonoscopy, it’ll be a liquid laxative to give your doctor an
unobstructed view of your patootie. Which, we fully realize, is a word which hasn’t been used
since 1971, but let’s not get bogged down with word choice.

3. You’re Bound to Meet Fascinating People

When you visit Las Vegas, be open to meeting intriguing new people, it’s part of the fun. The
same goes for your medical procedure. You’re sure to meet doctors, anesthesiologists, nurses and, in our case, legions of interns observing the colonoscopy. Some of your best memories will be of the people you meet, guaranteed.

4. At Some Point Your Ass Will be Hanging Out, and It’s OK

Whether you’re donning a hospital gown or hitting a Las Vegas dayclub, it’s pretty much inevitable you’re going to be overexposed. This isn’t the time to be shy. Nobody’s judging you. Be confident, be fearless and, please, avoid sitting on anything cold.

Crazy Girls Las Vegas

Two for two.

5. There Will Be Parts You Don’t Remember

While you’re sure to have lots of colorful memories during your Vegas visit, or colonoscopy, there are also going to be portions of your experience you won’t remember at all. Just know a lot of fascinating things happened during those gaps in time, and look forward to seeing the photos, because you know they’re out there.

6. You’ll Probably Have to Deal With Some Crap

Unwanted Fees. Scheduling mishaps. Long check-in lines. These are all part of the deal when it comes to colonoscopies. And visits to Las Vegas. We’re finally starting to hit our stride with this comedic premise, don’t you think? Thanks for your patience.

Caesars Palace Caesar statue

Given the fact there are no fingers involved with a colonoscopy, we’re probably stretching it.

7. There Are Sure to Be Surprises

You simply never know what you’ll encounter during a colonoscopy. It’s possible you’ll discover a polyp. The same goes for Las Vegas. You may encounter a polyp. More than likely he’ll be performing an upside-down straight jacket escape at Luxor.

8. Sometimes You’ll Feel Like You’re Taking It In the Rear

Discomfort can result from both rectal probing and cold streaks in a Las Vegas casino. In either case, the feeling will pass. Keep your cool, take deep breaths and power through.


One of those moments.

9. It’ll Be Over Before You Know It

Time flies both when you’re visiting Las Vegas and when you’re having a colonoscopy. When you visit Las Vegas, it feels like you’re just warming up and it’s time to go home. A colonoscopy’s exactly the same, except that the fact it’s over quickly is possibly the best thing in the world. How Einstein never used the comparison between a Las Vegas visit and a colonoscopy to illustrate time is relative, we’ll never know.

Crystals Las Vegas

We’re sorry you’ll never again be able to see the whirlpools at Crystals mall at CityCenter without thinking of colons. Probably.

10. Expect to Do It Again at Regular Intervals

While the motivations may be different, the result is the same. Expect you’ll visit Las Vegas and have a colonoscopy on a regular basis from here on out. (Hopefully, not at the same time.) In both scenarios, you’re taking the measures necessary to live a longer, happier life.

Whether you’re visiting Las Vegas or getting a colonoscopy, thanks for visiting the Vital Vegas blog. Which, for the purposes of this article, we’re sort of wishing was called the Vital Pahrump blog.

We’ll wait.

Stardust Was Imploded 10 Years Ago, We Still Get Weepy

The Stardust will always hold a special place in our heart.

It was the first hotel we stayed in during our first Las Vegas visit. Our first craps game happened at Stardust.

We can still remember the sounds, the decor, the smells.


Not going to lie, we sometimes fantasize about engaging in sinful acts with this Stardust postcard.

The Stardust was imploded 10 years ago, on March 13, 2007.

The quintessential Las Vegas resort opened on July 2, 1958. It was purchased by Boyd Gaming in 1985. Stardust closed on Nov. 1, 2006.

Stardust players club

Think it’s weird we still have our Stardust players club card? We just told you we have sinful thoughts about postcards! You are messed up.

Before it was acquired by Boyd Gaming, Stardust had a reputation for being mobbed up. It eventually became the inspiration for the movie “Casino.”

One of our favorite parts of the Stardust was the sign. The iconic sign, designed by Kermit Wayne, was made up of dozens of Googie stars. The sign also featured 7,100 feet of neon and 11,000 bulbs.


This is the postcard we call when the other postcard is on its period.

The implosion of Stardust is bittersweet because it was taken down to make way for another construction project, Echelon Place, which never materialized. Construction at the Echelon site was halted in 2008, a victim of the economic downturn.

Stardust Leroy Neiman

This Stardust homage by Leroy Neiman can be founding hanging in The California, owned by Boyd Gaming.

Here’s a look at the implosion of the Stardust.

Today, a new resort is slated for the Stardust site, Resorts World. While Resorts World officials claim construction will pick up soon, it remains to be seen if the Asian-themed hotel-casino will actually come to pass.

Even if it does, our memory of Stardust will loom large over the site.


It’s difficult to express the breadth of our love for this sign at the Neon Museum.

The implosion of Stardust led to our creation of the only iron-clad rule in Las Vegas: If you knock something wonderful down, you have to replace it with something even more wonderful.

No pressure, Resorts World.