Monthly Archives: September 2019

Golden Nugget Las Vegas Confirms Chick-fil-A is On the Way

Golden Nugget has confirmed it will soon boast a Chick-fil-A restaurant, the first in downtown Las Vegas.

The new Chick-fil-A was announced by Golden Nugget via social media.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We love when a juicy rumor pans out! Emphasis on “juicy.”

While this item was news to the world, it wasn’t new to us, because we know things.

We also have access to the Internet.

We originally got wind of the new Chick-fil-A because of a job posting on LinkedIn a few months back.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

Great gig (average salary is $53,000), except for the “always having to be nice to everyone” thing.

Scant details have been announced about the Chick-fil-A at Golden Nugget, but we’ve got a few additional unconfirmed, ahem, nuggets to share.

Golden Nugget has said the new restaurant will open “this winter,” but we’ve heard Dec. 2, 2019 as the slated opening date.

The location, from what we understand, is the hotel’s Carson tower. We scouted the area in question, and employees said Chick-fil-A will move into the location currently occupied by a gift shop next to one of Golden Nugget’s two Starbucks. See more.

Golden Nugget

Out with the keychains, in with the waffle potato fries.

Employees claim the Essentials gift shop will move right next door.

If this location skinny pans out, it’ll be a surprisingly low profile spot for such a high profile restaurant. Carson tower is deep inside Golden Nugget, past its restaurant row, and about as far as you can get from all the foot traffic on Fremont Street.

Still, we predict this Chick-fil-A is going to print money, and having large numbers of chicken sandwich fans making their way through hundreds of slot machines is bound to be a boon for
Golden Nugget.

Golden Nugget has already gotten a start on creating visibility for its new offering. Specifically, this big-ass sign on Fremont.

Golden Nugget Chick-fil-A

We are currently pre-salivating.

As with all Chick-fil-A announcements, there’s been some “hate chicken” chatter, but relatively little compared to when Chick-fil-A first came to Las Vegas in 2017.

Yes, we droned Chick-fil-A. We were excited, don’t judge.

Here’s some background on the Chick-fil-A controversy. Bottom line: We believe in the separation of church and chicken.

We honestly can’t wait to add Golden Nugget’s Chick-fil-A to our lunch rotation.

You can bet we’ll be watching this one closely! We would be remiss if we didn’t use this opportunity to remind you we were the first to share Chick-fil-A was coming to Planet Hollywood on The Strip.

Full disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and Golden Nugget is one of its member casinos. Opinions and snark are our own.

Confirmed at Last, Rio Las Vegas Sold to Imperial Companies

Caesars Entertainment has officially announced the sale of Rio, finally.

Rio was purchased by a New York real estate group for $516.3 million. The deal is expected to be finalized in early 2020.

Rio

It’s about damn time.

The buyer is Imperial Companies, run by founding partners Eric Birnbaum and Michael Fascitelli.

Gosh, if only someone had known who the buyer was way back in April 2019.

Rio sale

Haters, please form a line to the right for the traditional eating of the crow.

While the Rio has finally sold, Caesars Entertainment will continue to operate the resort for at least two years. Imperial has the option to pay Caesars $7 million to extend the lease an additional year.

While Caesars operates Rio, it will pay $45 million a year in rent.

The announcement of the sale of Rio puts to rest some lingering questions such as the fate of the World Series of Poker. The popular event will be held at Rio in 2020, and 2021 is likely as well according to Seth Palansky, V.P. of Corporate Communications for the WSOP.

Caesars Entertainment will continue to own the rights to WSOP.

Rio Las Vegas sign

Please fix the neon, already.

At this juncture, it’s unclear what Imperial’s intentions are for Rio.

We do know the asking price for Rio at one time was more than a billion dollars, so Imperial got this fading casino at a relative bargain. That is, until you consider what it’s going to cost (possibly a billion-plus) to bring the Rio back up to snuff.

Rumors and speculation continue to swirl, and we’d share them, but at the moment we’re busy reveling in how badass we are for calling the Rio sale months before anyone else.

One more self-indulgent Tweet, please! (We took at lot of crap for this scoop, so let us have our moment.)

Rio sale

The Rio sale was announced on the last day of summer, Sep. 23, 2019. Boom.

More to come, and thanks to our amazing sources. You know who you are.

Four Las Vegas Casinos Get New Names

Change is the only constant in Las Vegas (other than world-class lap dances, allegedly), but lately the amount of change is startling.

Four casinos are getting new names: SLS Las Vegas, Hooters, Stratosphere and Hard Rock.

Here’s the quick overview of the name changes so you can impress your friends, should you ever get some.

SLS Las Vegas is Sahara

The classic Sahara is the Sahara all over again! The money pit that was SLS was purchased by bajillionaire Alex Meruelo back in April 2018.

Sahara Las Vegas

Everything old is new again.

Yes, we broke the news SLS was purchased and the fact it would be rebranded Sahara. You don’t have to make it about us all the time, you know.

Significant renovations have been happening at Sahara for months, and the name change officially happened June 27, 2019.

Sahara Las Vegas

The funky statue outside Sahara has been replaced temporarily by shrubbery.

Hooters is Oyo

The off-Strip Hooters hotel has had a slew of names. It was recently purchased, and will become Oyo Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.

Oyo Hotel & Casino

Hooters out, Oyo in.

Yes, we broke the Oyo story, too. Please stop obsessing over how great we are. It’s awkward.

Oyo Las Vegas chips

Calling all chip collectors. Just a figure of speech. Nobody has time to actually do that.

Oyo is known for its massive collection of budget hotels, so we don’t expect many changes to Hooters following the rebrand.

The Hooters restaurant won’t be sticking around, despite official statements. The restaurant will be moving to a Strip casino. The current frontrunner is one that rhymes with Schmopicana.

Oyo

“Oyo” presumably stands for “on your own.” Just play along, they’re new in town.

Stratosphere is The Strat

Yes, this qualifies as a name change, despite the fact many people called this iconic casino “The Strat” long before it became official.

Strat

Many have used “Strat” as shorthand for Stratosphere for awhile, now it’s official.

Golden Gaming purchased Stratosphere in Oct. 2017, and a number of renovations have happened leading up to the renaming in Feb. 2019.

Not only was the resort’s marquee was recently replaced, the casino rolled out some sweet new chips.

Strat

Strat splurged for Paulson Premium chips, which mainly serves to make it sound like we know what we’re talking about.

The changes at The Strat make it a must-visit, in our humble opinion, and there are more surprises in the works.

Strat

That’s right, selfies encouraged in the casino at Strat. Miracles never cease.

Among the changes at The Strat are decor changes in the casino.

Strat

Sky blue is a good fit at Strat because it’s the structure in Vegas that’s closest to it. The sky. Please keep up.

Hard Rock Becomes Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

In 2020, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas will transform into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

The resort will close for eight months, starting after Super Bowl weekend 2020.

Hard Rock Casino Las Vegas

In 2020, Vegas gets its very first Virgin.

Yes, we shared that news first (not to mention the resort was being sold). Now, it’s just getting embarrassing.

The Hard Rock renovation will touch virtually every part of the resort, and the renderings so far have been sexy AF. Take a look.

Virgin hotel Las Vegas

New look, new feel, new mojo.

It’s expected Virgin Las Vegas will open between Nov. 15 and Dec. 15, 2020.

Bonus Name Changes

If you haven’t visited Las Vegas in awhile, there are more name changes worth noting.

Monte Carlo is Park MGM

Monte Carlo was a visitor favorite for years, but the resort was officially rebranded to Park MGM in May 2018.

Park MGM

Please don’t make fun of the Park MGM logo. Folks on Fiverr have to make a living, too.

Mandarin Oriental is Waldorf Astoria

We probably shouldn’t include this on our list, because it doesn’t have a casino, but a name change is a name change. Mandarin Oriental became Waldorf Astoria in August 2018.

Thank you for not feeling obligated to mention we broke the news Mandarin Oriental would become Waldorf Astoria.

Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas

“Waldorf” comes from Walldorf, a town in Germany. “Astoria” comes from Astoria, Oregon. Don’t look now, but you accidentally learned something on the Internet.

Fontainebleau is The Drew

Honorary mention goes to a resort that never even opened, Fontainebleau. The abandoned project was purchased and renamed The Drew. Virtually nothing is happening with The Drew, so don’t get your hopes up.

Drew Las Vegas

“Nobody could have a lazier logo than Park MGM.” The Drew: “Hold our beer.”

That should bring you up to speed with the casino name game in Las Vegas.

Lots of casinos are rumored to be changing hands soon, so it’ll be fun to see if they’ll stick with the names they’ve got or switch things up. You’ll know when we do, and we claim to know everything.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Ep. 103: Vegas is a Circus

It’s time for another bromidic episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast.

Yes, people listen to podcasts. Your insolence is duly noted.

In this installment, we’ve got all the Circus Circus sale scoop you can fit into your lateral orbitofrontal cortex, whatever that might be.

Circus Circus Lucky clown

Not all clowns are creepy. Probably.

We also chat about the sale of the Rio, finally in the homestretch, as well as Hooters transitioning into Oyo.

There’s also a perfunctory rant about the ridiculous service fees being added to cocktails in venues like Mama Rabbit and Sahara’s showroom.

Expect a cavalcade of Las Vegas news stories, as well as our inebriated opinions about them.

Cheetahs strip club has been sold, Gordon Ramsay Steak at Paris gets a renovation, Cleo and Umami Burger close at Sahara, Palms builds a dome, RuPaul’s show hits Flamingo and a “Friends” takeover (including a new Bellagio fountain show and life-sized “Friends” set made from 900,000 Legos) is headed to The Strip.

Gordon Ramsay Steak

We’re not seeing what needed renovating at Gordon Ramsay Steak, but it’s a great excuse to visit again.

This week’s listicle is “10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Wynn’s Renovated Golf Course.” Yes, we did a sports adjacent listicle. You’ll live.

Listen and get your daily allowance of Sin City.

Sources Say Circus Circus Las Vegas is Sold

Circus Circus, long considered the red-headed stepchild of the MGM Resorts family, has reportedly been sold. All due respect to red-heads. And stepchildren.

We have it on good authority the sale of Circus Circus casino is a done deal. It’s unknown when an official announcement of the sale will be made.

We first got wind Circus Circus was in play for a sale back in August 2019. See below if you’re not on the Twitters.

Circus Circus sold

We have the best sources, ever.

It seems there were two phases to Circus Circus being shopped to potential buyers.

In the first round, the sale was to include one hotel tower and the Rock in Rio site (Las Vegas Festival Grounds). There we apparently no takers for that offering.

Next up was a sale of the entire resort, including the adjacent Las Vegas Festival Grounds.

Our sources say the Circus Circus sale encompassed a whopping 102 acres.

The rumored buyer is Phil Ruffin, owner of TI.

Circus Circus sale

The lights that launched a thousand engorgements.

Plans for Circus Circus are unknown, but a sale bodes well for the likelihood of further investment in sprucing up the place, including what’s likely to be a much-needed renovation of the rooms.

Circus Circus has long served a customer other Strip resorts don’t, extreme value seekers and families.

Despite its profitability, MGM Resorts has never quite known what to do with this offbeat casino that doesn’t fit neatly into the company’s portfolio.

A casino we love, by the way. See our 10 reasons to love Circus Circus.

Steakhouse Circus Circus

“Whatever you do, don’t touch the steakhouse!” we all said in unison.

The sale of Circus Circus will provide a bump to MGM Resorts’ pool of cash as it continues to pursue its MGM 2020 initiative to increase profitability.

Additional investment (or any, really) in Circus Circus by MGM Resorts just wasn’t in the cards, so a sale makes a lot of sense.

Stay tuned for confirmation and an official announcement about the sale of Circus Circus.

You heard it here first!

Update (9/20/19): Here’s the latest on the sale of Circus Circus via Bloomberg. The publication says about MGM Resorts, “An accord to sell the resort could be announced as part of a larger transaction involving the company’s real estate portfolio, which also includes the Bellagio and the flagship MGM Grand.”

Update (10/15/19): The sale of Circus Circus for $825 million to TI owner Phil Ruffin has been confirmed. Try to act surprised.

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas Busts Out More Sweet Renderings

Virgin Hotel Las Vegas (technically, Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, but there’s just the one so far) has shared some sweet renderings.

Hard Rock will transition into Virgin starting in February 2020, and here’s a peek at what’s in store.

Virgin Las Vegas

If we ever have Richard Branson money, this will be our living room.

The renderings were shared as Virgin Vegas announced its design and construction partners.

We aren’t entirely sure who some of these companies are, but we thought we’d list them here to prevent the renderings from slapping together.

Virgin’s design and construction partners include Rockwell Group, Klai Juba Wald Architecture + Interiors, Studio Collective, Taylor International Corporation and McCarthy Building Companies.

Rockwell Group is probably the most recognizable of the partners, as they’ve done a number of projects in Las Vegas, including Greene St. Kitchen and Kaos at Palms, as well as Omnia nightclub and Nobu at Caesars Palace.

Fun fact: Rockwell Group also did the set designs for the movie “Tootsie.” Yes, we knew that off the top of our head, not because it was in the news release.

Here’s another fleek rendering from the upcoming Virgin hotel in Las Vegas. And, yes, we’re using “fleek” ironically. We are not a complete idiot.

Virgin Las Vegas

We love the art inspired by our ex.

When we shared these renderings on our wildly popular Twitter account, there was universally positive feedback, and Twitter tends to hate everything.

That bodes well for Virgin, and we’ll keep you in the loop with all the latest developments. Read more about the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas renovation timeline. Virgin Hotel Las Vegas is expected to open in Nov. 2020.