Monthly Archives: August 2017

Golden Gate Expansion Nears Completion, Here’s a First Peek Inside

Golden Gate’s expansion is in the home stretch, and we’ve got an exclusive look inside.

Golden Gate expansion

Dead center is where the 24-foot tower of televisions will be. No, we haven’t talked about that yet. We don’t live by society’s rules.

The expansion has been months in the making as Golden Gate has moved into the footprint of the former La Bayou casino.

The additional space will nearly double the size of Golden Gate’s casino floor, adding about 100 slot machines.

Golden Gate will close temporarily on Aug. 20, 2017 to complete the build-out, and the new space will officially debut on Aug. 25.

If you know anything about this blog, you know we’re not real big on waiting for things to “officially debut,” so we had to do a security breach, while adhering to all applicable laws, ordinances and safety regulations, of course.

Golden Gate expansion

We love that new slot machine smell.

During the closure, virtually the entire east wall of Golden Gate’s existing casino will come down to connect the new and old spaces.

A highlight of Golden Gate’s expansion will be a 24-foot tower of TVs, surrounded by hundreds of beveled mirrors.

The television “fountain” will sit inside a new entrance to the casino, with marble flooring and velvet drapes.

The opening of the new casino area and entrance will coincide with an expansion of the casino’s lucrative outdoor bar, One Bar. The bar will expand 20 feet.

Golden Gate expansion

There are fewer words in the English language we love more than “more bar.”

Another big change at Golden Gate will be the relocation of the casino’s loyalty club desk. To complete the finishing touches of the loyalty club and casino expansion, it’s rumored crews will work 108 hours straight during the casino closure to meet the Aug. 25 debut date.

We’re exhausted just typing that sentence.

Golden Gate loyalty club

This is where they’re going to keep the loyalty.

To celebrate the debut of the casino expansion, owners Derek and Greg Stevens will host a free concert by Better Than Ezra on Sep. 3 at 9:00 p.m. The concert is a late addition to the free summer concert series put on by Fremont Street Experience (where we work as our day gig in digital marketing).

Golden Gate has made the most of a fairly modest space, and the casino interior already gives off a welcoming vibe with its mix of modern and classic design elements, including dark wood accents we sort of want to rub our various body parts up against for some reason.

Golden Gate expansion

Golden Gate opened in 1906. Back in those days, slot machines paid jackpots in cobwebs.

The new space is already filling up with shiny new slot machines (no classics from the Riviera here), many of which were too tall to put in other areas of the casino due to the classic casino’s low ceilings.

Golden Gate’s expansion is a great excuse to stop by during your next visit, and make sure to check out the demolition site just across Fremont Street while you’re there.

Here’s a little-known fact related to Golden Gate: The hotel was home to the first telephone in Las Vegas (the phone number was “1”), but that’s not the little known fact. The little-known fact is about who got the second telephone in Las Vegas. Any guesses?

We’ll wait.

You’re going to love this.

Golden Gate (originally called Hotel Nevada) was owned by John F. Miller. The second telephone in Las Vegas was installed in his home, at the behest of Miller’s wife, Rosa. Who else do you think he’d call with the city’s first phone? Now you know!

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Demolition Crews Make Quick Work of Las Vegas Club

The Las Vegas Club, in downtown Las Vegas, opened in 1930. It closed on Aug. 19, 2015, and is well on its way to being a memory.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Oddly, there’s very little difference between the Las Vegas Club now and its last few years of operation.

The Las Vegas Club is being leveled to make way for a new Las Vegas resort. The resort project is informally referred to as “18 Fremont,” the address of the shuttered Las Vegas Club.

Las Vegas Club demolition

Serves them right for giving us $20 on that Wheel of Fortune spin. That’s what was the Glitter Gulch strip club, at left.

Our obsessive coverage of the demolition continues with this sweet video of the 18 Fremont site.

The Las Vegas Club was around forever, and was purchased by Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of The D Las Vegas and Golden Gate.

Here’s a look inside the Las Vegas Club right before its demise, just in time to save Fremont Street the fate of having another (wait for it) pharmacy.

No, really. The previous owners were making a deal to turn half the Las Vegas Club’s casino into a CVS. Because the WTF is strong downtown.

Las Vegas Club demolition

The largest excavator in America will soon start tearing down this hotel tower, then its neighbor. This could be better than an implosion.

Demolition mavens North American Dismantling Corp. have been making swift progress in recent weeks, taking down an office building, Mermaids and the Glitter Gulch strip club.

Here’s a look at Mermaids today.

Mermaids demolition

Mermaids is currently doing its impression of a sandbox.

In the time it’s taken to write those first paragraphs, demolition has begun on the Las Vegas Club’s parking garage.

Las Vegas Club demolition

There’s never a dull moment when you’re pulverizing things.

Enjoy more demolition porn from the 18 Fremont project, and check out all our posts about the demolition of Las Vegas Club, Glitter Gulch and Mermaids.

Las Vegas Club Demolition

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Fremont Street Gains White Castle Restaurant, Loses Classic Trader Bill’s Sign

There’s been a lot of great buzz about a new White Castle coming to Fremont Street. We should know, we started it.

Recent developments at the site of the new White Castle, however, have been more buzzkill than buzz.

They involve a classic sign for Trader Bill’s.

Trader Bill's sign

Spoiler alert: Now would be a great time to start not getting emotionally attached to things.

For comparison purposes, here’s a look at the Trader Bill’s sign during the day, in other words, without its make-up.

Trader Bill's sign

That’s not old and faded. That’s character.

The first sign, ahem, of trouble came when we noticed the arrow on the Trader Bill’s sign being painted blue. All of the sign’s bulbs and neon were removed. (From what we can tell, the bulbs will be back.)

Trader Bill's

The journey of a thousand WTFs begins with one coat of paint.

The next day, workers began covering up the gloriously distressed sign.

Trader Bill's sign

The Trader Bill’s sign, redacted.

Within just a few days, the Trader Bill’s sign transformed into a White Castle sign, and everything was ruined.

White Castle Fremont sign

White Castle has but one location in Las Vegas, at Casino Royale. When it opened, the restaurant had to temporarily shut down due to overwhelming demand.

The conversion of the Trader Bill’s sign to a White Castle sign probably wouldn’t have been as jarring were it not for where the sign sits. For many who frequent downtown, the sign’s location is what amounts to the “entrance” to the Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing as our day job).

Once lit up, the White Castle sign is likely to be an eye-catching focal point for anyone looking down, or taking photos of, Fremont Street and what’s billed as the world’s largest video screen.

That’s great news for White Castle, but we’re not convinced it’s great news for our street. Yes, it’s ours, but we let millions of people borrow it each year.

For many, White Castle will now be the first impression visitors get of what the street is all about. Not the circus-like atmosphere of the Fremont district. Not the casinos and their neon facades. Not the history of “Glitter Gulch.”

Rather, a fast food restaurant.

White Castle Fremont Street

We’re going to need a lot of sliders to get us through this period of adjustment. It’s expected Fremont’s White Castle will open at the end of August or in early September.

This latest loss of a distinctive downtown sign follows on the heels of the removal of Vegas Vickie on the other end of Fremont Street. She’ll soon be followed by demolition of the Golden Goose, the Glitter Gulch sign and the baseball player statue atop the former Las Vegas Club.

On the bright side, Vegas Vickie is likely to return. That’s not in the cards for the Trader Bill’s sign.

In searching for some background about Trader Bill’s (it began operating at the corner of Fremont and 4th Street in the early 1930s), we came across an intriguing quote from an article written in 1997.

At the time, Trader Bill’s was transitioning from being a souvenir store to a jewelry store, and the then President of Fremont Street Experience, Mark Paris, is quoted as saying, “The thing that’s important to us is the streetscape—how it looks—and the owners of Trader Bill’s have maintained the neon and lights that we feel are in keeping with the spirit of Fremont Street.”

While a White Castle restaurant fits the “spirit” of Fremont Street perfectly, we can’t say the same for the White Castle sign.

We’ve said often in this blog that the only constant in Las Vegas is change. That doesn’t mean we have to like it.

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 58: Inside Carrot Top

Scott Thompson, better known as Carrot Top, is one of the most successful comedians in the history of Las Vegas residencies.

His began his stint at Luxor back in 2005, and the comic continues to pack them in.

We’ve got an exclusive interview with Carrot Top in this hastily slapped-together episode. Thompson talks intimately about fame, haters and his hilarious show on the Las Vegas Strip.

Carrot Top

Carrot Top’s show at Luxor was recently extended through 2020.

Rounding out this week’s episode is a listicle of useless gambling terms and all the Las Vegas news we could put together in under five minutes, including myriad announcements of Las Vegas casinos investing bajillions in renovations.

Take a listen as we celebrate passing 200,000 downloads, despite lackluster reviews, horrible production values and misguided modesty like you wouldn’t believe.

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Corduroy Opens in Eclectic Fremont East District

Corduroy, a quirky, lively bar from the Downtown Project, has opened in the Fremont East Entertainment District in downtown Las Vegas.

The new bar sits in a space formerly occupied by a clothing boutique, Coterie, between two popular downtown hangouts, Beauty Bar and The Griffin.

Corduroy bar

If Fremont East isn’t familiar territory, have no fear. We did a quick walk-through.

Corduroy, which we’re still having difficulty spelling consistently, opened Aug. 5, 2015, and already feels like a hit.

Corduroy

To understand corduroy, you must understand cords and wales. We don’t, so nevermind.

The centerpiece of the 4,000-square-foot space is a large, decorative “bubble wall” behind the bar.

The color-shifting, fluid-based wall is a mesmerizing backdrop for the libations to come.

Corduroy Las Vegas

Corduroy’s wall art is reminiscent of a lava lamp, a phrase we’re pretty sure will keep Millennials busy for the next several minutes, Googlewise.

Here’s a look, as we are clearly lacking in the vocabulary to adequately describe the thing.

Corduroy is an inviting space with a relaxed, unpretentious vibe.

As with too many bars downtown (Commonwealth, Downtown Cocktail Room) and elsewhere, the music is 20 percent too loud to comfortably hold a conversation, but the kids seem to like it that way.

For some time, the plan was to call the venue The Vault, but management thought better of that name as the concept was fleshed out.

Corduroy is a reference to the fabric popular in the mid-’70s to the mid-’80s, and the music at the new bar reflects that era.

The 1970s also served for many of the decorative touches at Corduroy, including a wall of vintage speakers and other audio equipment.

Corduroy Fremont Street

Audiophiles will immediately recognize these items as “old things to set your iPad on.”

Beyond the appeal of the space, the menu at Corduroy is equally memorable.

Here’s a look at the signature cocktails, most reasonably priced in the $9 range.

Corduroy drink menu

Don’t think of it as a drink menu, think of it as a to-do list.

Right off the bat, one must have Sex on the Beach. The sweet, refreshing cocktail is served in a Capri Sun-style juice bag, and costs just $6.

Corduroy cocktail

Things just got all whimsical up in here.

We also tried the amazing Raoul Duke cocktail, with Tanqueray gin, Cherry Heering liqueur, triple sec, Benedictine liqueur, Angostura bitters, grenadine bar syrup, lime, pineapple and a shot of Mezcal for good measure.

Translation: It’s a certified Vital Vegas blog panty-dropper cocktail.

Corduroy cocktail

Fun fact: “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” by Hunter S. Thompson, was originally written under the name Raoul Duke.

During our visit, Corduroy’s Moscow Mules and Frontier Mules were being ordered faster than the bartenders could crank them out.

The drink menu also features “Classics” ($10) and “Shooters” ($6.50).

While the food menu isn’t expansive, there are some “Munchies,” including chicken pot pie, Hot Pockets, corn dogs and other quick bites.

When you visit Corduroy, and you should, make sure to fully explore the space.

Check out the classic video game table, as well as the irreverent restroom signs.

Corduroy restroom

We are easily amused.

Behind an unmarked door is a room for photo ops, with converging lights, vanishing point-style.

Corduroy Fremont Street

And we got the Millennials back.

Beyond the main bar and a small stage for DJs, there’s a separate lounge area with comfy furniture and small smoking room. We won’t hold that against them.

Downtown Project, owners of Gold Spike, Downtown Container Park, Inspire and other venues, has a winner on its hands with Corduroy.

Corduroy Fremont Street

Corduroy is no-frills fun. Although if you’re a frills person, do you. It’s Vegas, we don’t judge.

Corduroy seems a perfect fit for Fremont East, and is poised to be a crowd-pleasing, laid-back watering hole for visitors and downtown denizens alike.

Corduroy opens at 4:00 p.m., and operates Wednesday through Sunday.

Corduroy on Fremont East

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