Monthly Archives: April 2017

Forbidden City Resort Could Bring Pandas, Cricket Fighting to Las Vegas Strip

We get giddy when we hear about new Las Vegas casinos in the works and this one’s a doozy. We’ve got the inside scoop on a proposed $5 billion Asian-themed resort called Forbidden City Palace Casino and Hotel Resort.

Forbidden City seems to have flown under the radar, but it’s an ambitious project its developers claim “will set the standard for excellence in Las Vegas.” Now, that we’d love to see!

Here’s a look at Forbidden City, a resort that will “bring unparalleled examples of Chinese architecture with feng shui principles” to the center of the Las Vegas Strip.

Forbidden City Palace Casino Hotel

The standard for excellence in Las Vegas isn’t going to set itself, people.

Exciting, right?

Forbidden City is being developed by AEPA, “a limited liability corporation under the direction of its President, Alfred Liu.” According to the project’s promotional materials, there are also Chinese companies involved to “carry out the plan, including experienced developers and material manufacturers.”

Forbidden City is an ambitious project, to say the least. The array of proposed attractions and amenities are stunning.

The “unique and spectacular offerings” include “Royal Weddings,” “Cricket Warfare,” “Cultural Integrity,” “Exotic Experiences, a giant panda habitat and Entertainment Center.

Naturally, “Cricket Warfare” and giant pandas jumped right out at us.

First, “Cricket Warfare.” The developer says, “Once the exclusive game of the Emperor, cricket fighting has been a popular sport in China for centuries. Watch the drama unfold and the tension build as powerful fighting crickets square off when AEPA brings this popular, imperial gaming sport to the Forbidden City.”

AEPA, PETA. PETA, AEPA.

Next, pandas. Everyone loves pandas!

Pandas

People love pandas so much there was actually a show at Palazzo called “Panda.”

Apparently, the aforementioned Mr. Liu knows a guy. The resort’s proposal says, “Mr. Liu’s strong relationship with the former Governor of the Sichuan Communist Party has created the exclusive opportunity to bring the giant panda to the Forbidden City. A proposal submitted by the Sichuan provinces is pending before the State Council.”

If you’re in China and looking to get a great table in a packed restaurant, everyone knows you drop this line to the hostess and you’re golden: “Good evening and please be aware I have a strong relationship with the former Governor of the Sichuan Communist Party. Thank you.”

Interestingly, a competing Asian-themed resort, Resorts World, once proposed a panda exhibit, but dropped the idea when it got what experts call “a clue.” That means Forbidden City will have the only pandas in Las Vegas. Take that, Resorts World.

So, what else do we know about Forbidden City Palace Resort?

Well, as mentioned, Forbidden City will be located in “the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.” Check out the site plan, below.

Forbidden City Las Vegas

Unless you get pandas and fighting crickets, your luck is about to run out, Lucky Dragon.

It’s hard to tell from the site plan, but two of our astute blog commenters, Graham and Denver Gambler, have noted Forbidden City could very well have its eyes on the Rock in Rio site (owned by MGM Resorts) at the corner of Sahara and Las Vegas Blvd.

Forbidden City

It may as well be the Rock in Rio site, as Rock in Rio won’t be using it.

That would be an expensive piece of real estate, but the developers of Forbidden City have no doubt taken everything into account as they put together their financing.

Speaking of financing, it sounds like Forbidden City is going to have no problem finding the estimated $5 billion needed to complete the project.

The developer says, “All construction materials will be fabricated in China and assembled by AEPA’s experienced workers in Las Vegas. The favorable wage and quality service provided by skilled Chinese craftsmen lowers the construction cost and improves the efficiency of the project.”

Made in China, assembled in the U.S.A. We’re curious to know how the pandas are going to feel about that.

Anyway, we love everything about the proposed Forbidden City Palace Resort, from the Performing Arts Center with a 1,600-seat “symphony theater” to food carts with “Shanghai, Cantonese and Beijing delicacies” roaming the casino floor.

Forbidden City casino Las Vegas

Fireworks were invented in China during the Tang Dynasty, an era which would later inspire the name of a powdered drink popular with astronauts. Millennial translation: Long story.

Does Forbidden City sound like a whimsical project? Sure. Is Resorts World, despite all the hoopla surrounding its groundbreaking, all that much further along in its construction? No.

Take a look at the full Forbidden City proposal (.doc format).

And if you think Forbidden City is out of the realm of possibility, why are indexes of upcoming construction listing it?

It’s time Las Vegas finally had a Forbidden City. A few years back, a similarly-named project, Dynasty Forbidden City, was proposed, but failed. Another failed resort, Xanadu, planned a Forbidden City restaurant. No go. Resorts World says it will have a Forbidden City Retail District. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Thanks, by the way, to eagle-eyed sleuth and loyal reader Deena E. for pointing us in the direction of the Forbidden City Casino project.

And to the developers of Forbidden City, we share the words of Arthur O’Shaughnessy, or possibly Willy Wonka, “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

It’s worth noting that later in O’Shaughnessey’s ode are less-known words, “With wonderful deathless ditties, we build up the world’s great cities. And out of a fabulous story, we fashion an empire’s glory.”

The glorious empire that is Las Vegas was built by dreamers, so dream on, Forbidden City, dream on.

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Experiment Reveals Average Face of Las Vegas Escorts

A Canadian Web site has collected data and used face-morphing software to reveal the average face of female, male and transgender escorts.

The site used 277 images of Las Vegas escorts and has correlated the morphed images to escort price points. It’s a wacky idea at first glance, but the results are intriguing.

Here’s a look at the average faces of female escorts at various price ranges.

Female Las Vegas escorts

This is definitely not the place where we’re going to suggest the next study compare average escort gazongas, because that would be wrong.

The site takes care to note prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas, but escorts often sell their services as “companionship.” If anything romantic (or physical) happens, it’s the choice of the escort and falls outside laws prohibiting prostitution.

Yeah, we don’t really understand it, either.

Still, the morphed images are telling, and speak to the way our culture values certain beauty standards.

According to the site, “the most expensive female escort seems to have more refined features” and “has lighter skin and looks much younger” than the less expensive escort.

We’re curious who the escorts are who charge $10-99, and by “curious” we mean “please contact this blog immediately, if you get our drift.”

Here’s a look at the average face of the male Las Vegas escort.

Male Las Vegas escorts

Look, there’s no male equivalent for gazongas, so get off our back.

Yes, there are male escorts, which we have to admit we didn’t actually realize was a thing until approximately 10 minutes ago.

The Web site shares, “As the price point for an escort increases, each man’s features become more refined and model-like. It’s also important to note that the men become lighter skinned as services become more expensive.”

On a related note, “Male escorts charging more than $500 an hour seemingly wear nicer clothing as well.”

The site also morphed the faces of transgender female Las Vegas escorts.

Transgender Las Vegas escorts

Stop with your judging, it’s Las Vegas.

About the transgender female escorts, the site claims, “Those who fetch top dollars look professionally made-up, while the less expensive escorts have somewhat plain hairstyles. However, the transgender woman who charges between $250 and $499 an hour has the lightest skin. Interestingly, the most expensive escort has the darkest skin.”

Who knew?

We have zero sense of the scientific validity of the information provided in this experiment, but it’s a fascinating look at a Las Vegas subculture that doesn’t often get the spotlight.

We asked an actual escort, Nikki Irish, her reaction to the study, and she replied, “Who took time out of their life to do that?” We’ve found Nikki tends to not beat around the bush. So to speak.

The site used 95 male, 105 female and 77 female transgender images to create its morphed images. Male transgender escorts weren’t included due to a lack of available images.

See the full project at the Web site in question, and kudos to the site for getting us to link to them. That’s some online marketing gold right there.

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The Nerd Nightclub Opens at Downtown’s Neonopolis

A new nightlife offering has opened at downtown’s Neonopolis, The Nerd.

The Nerd nightclub takes up residence in the former Drink & Drag space and offers bowling, pool and frosty beverages. No drag queens, but you’ll survive.

The Nerd nightclub

Fun fact: The stigma of being a nerd vanished about 15 minutes after Bill Gates made his first billion.

The Grand Opening of The Nerd was attended by Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and other tenants of Neonopolis, a shopping center that has struggled in the past, but which seems to be building momentum with new businesses like Fremont Arcade and an eSports arena.

The Nerd nightclub

You can keep your cornhole. We’ll opt for pool every time.

The Nerd is on the second floor of Neonopolis, and features a 12-lane bowling alley, four pool tables, a dance floor and DJ booth.

The Nerd nightclub

We hear The Nerd’s dance floor features go-go dancers on the weekend. Guess we have some further research to do.

So far, The Nerd feels a bit hastily put together. There’s no permanent signage to speak of, and while there’s a full bar, there’s no signature cocktail menu. During our visit on opening day, however, there was one specialty cocktail being served, the Carolyn Cosmopolitan (named after the mayor, of course), and it was delicious.

The Nerd nightclub

A certified panty-dropper cocktail. All due respect, Mayor Goodman.

If you’d like to make the Carolyn Cosmo at home: Grey Goose Le Citron vodka (2 oz.), Pama pomegranate liqueur (1 oz.), Cointreau orange-flavored liqueur (1 oz.), fresh lime and a splash of cranberry.

There’s no food currently being served at The Nerd, but that is likely to change in the future. (Related: We’ve heard a food truck may take up residence in the courtyard of Neonopolis, which would certainly help to satisfy our drunchies.)

In fact, The Nerd’s owner, Jonathan Borchetta, seems to have lots of plans in the works for the place. Some of the most ambitious are off-the-record for the time being, but stay tuned. Borchetta is also owner of the VooDoo Zipline at Rio Las Vegas.

The Nerd

Jonathan Borchetta receives a Proclamation from Mayor Goodman. In Las Vegas, it’s the law.

Borchetta understands The Nerd is in a challenging location, but thinks the quirky theme and libations will win the day.

He’s also enticing customers with the promise of free bowling and pool. We’re sold.

The Nerd nightclub

Bowling continues to be one of the best ways to humiliate yourself in front of your friends.

Speaking of the nerdy theme, The Nerd has ample movie and TV memorabilia on display, will sell comic book and pop culture costumes for those into cosplay, and anyone wearing a costume will get half-price drinks.

The Nerd

We’re thinking “Breaking Bad.” There was a placard, but this blog is more of a drinker than a placard reader.

There are also classic video games throughout the venue, and those, too, are free to play.

The Nerd nightclub

Even if you’re wasted, you’ll be able to tell you’re at The Nerd.

We fell in love with the Drink & Drag space during its short run at Neonopolis and were sorry to see the establishment close. The Nerd has a lot of potential, and we look forward to seeing what’s next.

If The Nerd can tap into the gamer and Comic-Con crowds, while wooing the cool kids who frequent Gold Spike and Fremont East, it truly will be the revenge of the, well, you know.

The Nerd Nightclub at Neonopolis

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Third Las Vegas Chick-fil-A Opens On the Down-Low

When the first two Chick-fil-A restaurants opened in Las Vegas (or the general vicinity), Sin City went nuts.

The flood of pent-up demand for the chain’s glorious chicken sandwiches in Nevada caused traffic jams and was a brutal time for Chick-fil-A team members. Teams of off-duty police officers did crowd control and directed traffic.

The honchos at Chick-fil-A apparently decided to avoid the crush of customers with it’s third restaurant in Vegas. The new location, across from Palace Station, sidestepped the hype and has deftly managed to balance tons of business with short wait times, an easier pace for staffers and, well, sanity.

Chick-fil-A

Hey, we had to stop by before Chick-fil-A opened. It’s sort of our thing.

Despite the lack of hysteria at the new Chick-fil-A, we understand from an employee, “We’re still hitting the numbers.” Chick-fil-A is the most profitable fast food chain in the country, by the way.

The third Chick-fil-A in Las Vegas will look very familiar to those who have visited the existing locations. The floorplan is exactly the same at all three locations.

Chick-fil-A Rancho

Just the way we like it, with as few obstructions between us and our fries as possible.

The one difference at the Rancho Drive and Sahara Ave. location is the absence of a children’s play room. This small change is about the only thing that could make a Chick-fil-A even better.

And having Chick-fil-A in town is about the only thing that could make Las Vegas better.

Chick-fil-A

If anyone else had done this, we’d be steamed. In this case, though, we’re pickle juice brined. Allegedly.

Despite the newest Chick-fil-A opening recently (March 30, 2017), the overtime cops have already been dismissed, and team members are delivering meals in three to five minutes, tops, whether inside the restaurant or in the drive-through (60% of a Chick-fil-A’s business).

It’s expected there will eventually be 10 Chick-fil-A locations in Las Vegas over the next few years. We anticipate giving every single one the once-over. At the very least. The sacrifices we make for you.

Chick-fil-A sandwich

Never make us choose between a Chick-fil-A sandwich and the life of a loved one. It will not go well for the loved one.

Enjoy more photos from both before the Chick-fil-A opening and the just-after opening. Because, for some, Chick-fil-A isn’t just a restaurant, it’s a fetish. Which, by the way, isn’t necessarily sexual. A fetish can also be “an inanimate object worshiped for its supposed magical powers.” So, let’s just say it’s that second thing so we don’t get blacklisted.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 46: The Good, The Evel, The Pappy

It’s another ribald installment of the Vital Vegas Podcast, and by “ribald,” of course, we mean blitzed.

We’ve got all the Vegas low-down you can stomach, including our thoughts about the new skill-based slot machines at Planet Hollywood, the first of such machines in Las Vegas.

Skill-based slot machines

Behold the future of slot machines. Ish. Future-ish.

In this edition of the podcast, you’ll hear from Vincent Rotolo, General Manager and Pizza Gandhi (probably not his real title) at Evel Pie.

Evel Pie is located on Fremont East, and gives guests a throwback experience with its ’70s-era vibe and massive collection of Evel Knievel collectibles. Rotolo’s enthusiasm for pizza is nearly as great as our own, and that’s saying something.

Evel Pie

Evel Pie is more than just a pizza joint. It’s a time machine. Which also has great pizza, of course.

Beyond some disruptions courtesy of our de facto mascot, Pappy the prospector, we’ve got a slew of the latest Las Vegas news, as well as a hastily slapped-together “Listicle of the Week” and some Las Vegas history (the Tropicana recently turned 60).

Learn more about the Raiders coming to Vegas, paid parking at Caesars Entertainment resorts, the latest Chick-fil-A opening, the fate of the famed Blue Angel statue, drama at Du-par’s and how a receipt went viral when it appeared a Strip lounge was charging $3 for ice in cocktails.

Blue Angel statue

The Blue Angel statue was a fixture downtown before it was taken down for a refresh. They say she’ll be back.

But wait, there’s more, including Ellis Island’s new Front Yard bar and restaurant, free concerts at Fremont Street Experience, Atomic Kitchen, a shake-up at Grand Bazaar Shops, opens, closings and a spectacular cavalcade of rumors and speculation.

The Vital Vegas Podcast isn’t just any Las Vegas podcast, it’s a rambling, poorly-researched, exercise in futility of a Las Vegas podcast, so listen before your earholes realize what they’ve gotten themselves into.

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BurGR Restaurant at Planet Hollywood Gets Rebrand, Now Gordon Ramsay Burger

It seemed like a good idea at the time. BurGR restaurant at Planet Hollywood has dropped its awkward name and is now simply Gordon Ramsay Burger.

BurGR was an attempt to integrate Gordon Ramsay’s initials (the “GR” part, please try and keep up) into the name of the popular Strip restaurant, but it’s likely Caesars Entertainment found the subtle reference more difficult to market than just using the celebrity chef’s name outright.

Gordon Ramsay Burger

“Less clever, more cheddar,” some food and beverage executive said, probably.

There’s been no official announcement of the name change, we’re just really observant. And clearly have too much free time.

The signage at Gordon Ramsay Burger has already been switched out, and menus and other printed materials also reflect the new name.

Even the official Web site for the restaurant has been scrubbed clean of the BurGR name.

Gordon Ramsay Burger

When it comes to naming restaurants, it’s best to just whip out your big gun.

Gordon Ramsay has a stellar record with his Las Vegas restaurants, all in partnership with Caesars Entertainment.

Besides the excellent Gordon Ramsay Burger, his winning collaborations are Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris and Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips at Linq promenade. Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill has gotten fewer rave reviews, but is still holding steady Caesars Palace.

Gordon Ramsay Burger

At Gordon Ramsay Burger, we even like the burgers with stuff on them, and we are not a stuff person.

There have been recent rumors Ramsay could take over the recently rebranded Serendipity 3 space for a “Hell’s Kitchen” concept, but at the moment that space is Stripside Cafe & Bar.

Whatever you call it, BurGR or Gordon Ramsay Burger, it gets our vote for the best burgers on The Strip, and that’s saying something in a town where epic burgers abound.

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