Monthly Archives: January 2020

Battista’s Hole in the Wall Could Close, Per Rumor

A Vegas institution, Battista’s Hole in the Wall restaurant, could close if rumors are true.

We first caught wind of the potential closure of Battista’s, a beloved restaurant near the Flamingo casino and infamous Stage Door Casino, in a tip on Twitter.

The Tweet claims, “A new group from Chicago is taking the spot for a new restaurant and entertainment venue.”

Battista's Hole in the Wall

It couldn’t hurt to swing by Battista’s Hole in the Wall, just in case.

We contacted Battista’s and were informed they have heard nothing whatsoever about the prospect of Caesars Entertainment ending its lease when it comes up for renewal in May 2020.

A rep said, “You would think we’d know about it. We make them money.”

Battista’s Hole in the Wall has been around since 1970. A 50-year run is rather astounding, as that is nearly 6,200 Las Vegas restaurant years.

Back in 2005, the owners of the restaurant, Battista and Rio Locatelli, sold it to Caesars Entertainment (called Harrah’s at the time).

Stage Door’s lease, by the way, runs out in 2030. Nobody expects the colorful bar will survive beyond that, so drink up.

Battista Locatelli wrote a memoir about his adventures in restaurateuring. Rio Locatelli passed away in 2018.

Here’s look at the restaurant, along with a good dose of throwback charm.

Were Battista’s Hole in the Wall to close, a quirky chapter in Las Vegas history would close as well.

Innumerable celebrities have found their way to Battista’s, known for its (wait for it) off-the-wall Italian decor and Gordon Jaffe, an accordion player who roams the restaurant as he has for more than three decades.

Lots of longtime fans of this barely off-Strip restaurant will bemoan its demise if the rumor pans out, but change is a constant in Las Vegas, just like poker chips, neon and women carrying their pumps after a night in the club.

You’ll know when we know, but food for thought.

ATMs at Las Vegas Casino Table Games Are Officially a Thing

The D casino announced it now offers what amounts to ATMs at its table games, and the Internet sort of lost its mind.

In a news release, The D shared it has “officially debuted a new automated cashless gaming system, ACS PlayOn, for all table games.”

The release continues, “Offering a convenient experience for guests, PlayOn is a modern technology that allows players to purchase casino chips using a debit card, eliminating the need to use an ATM machine or cashier’s window between hands.”

Cue the mind-losing.

Here’s a look at the kerfuffle-causer in question.

cashless table game system

Reminder: PIN stands for “personal identification number,” so please don’t say “PIN number.” It’s like saying “please RSVP.” Really annoying.

Simply put, when you’re at the table (roulette, craps, blackjack, whatever), you can use your debit card to get chips.

That’s pretty much it.

Yes, there’s a fee. We know how you are.

The fee is $4, plus 2.5% of whatever you withdraw. So, for $100, that’s a total of $6.50, or about the same as an ATM fee. (Reminder: ATM stands for “automated teller machine,” so please don’t say “ATM machine.” Sorry to call you out, news release, but common mistake.)

It’s worth noting the PlayOn machines don’t accept credit cards. They also won’t let you exceed your debit card’s maximum daily withdrawal limit.

This seemingly straightforward service has already been in place at Palms since December 2019. The system will also be available at Golden Gate (same owners as The D) and The Strat in the next few days (as yet unannounced).

News of the system’s debut at The D seems to have hit a nerve.

Most of the feedback on the Twitters relates to the belief people will gamble more than they typically would because the cashless system makes money (or chips) too readily available.

There was also some discussion of the fee being too high. At The D, players can withdraw $50-$3,000. The 2.5% fee on $3,000 would be $75, presumably.

We didn’t read the fine print. We were drunk. Full disclosure: We still are. You’re not our mom.

Our brilliant response to most of the criticism of this system was, “It’s an ATM, just closer.”

A good number of people expressed that in the heat of the moment, a player having to stand up and walk to an ATM might give them time to ponder their life choices and avoid the impulse to throw good money after bad.

Interestingly, few mentioned people often win in casinos when they throw good money after bad. Glass half empty, much?

The controversy about “tabletop ATMs” in casinos isn’t new. When Palms got its system in 2019, the news coverage ranged from balanced to outright damning.

All we know for sure is if we’re playing blackjack and out of cash but want to double down, now we can do it without leaving the table (and without borrowing the money using a “marker,” or casino credit).

We’d love to hear your thoughts about this, as the amount of negative feedback was genuinely surprising, and we tend to know everything.

Another disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience. The D is a member casino of that organization. Our opinions are our own.

Here’s the official site for PlayOn, the cashless casino table games system we expect is here to stay.

1OAK Nightclub at Mirage to Close Per Sources

It seems the days are numbered for 1OAK Nightclub at Mirage, as a source says employees have been told the venue’s last day of operation will be March 28, 2020.

1OAK Nightclub opened on New Year’s Eve 2011.

1OAK nightclub closing

Not a bad run, 1OAK, when 80% of nightclubs close in their first year.

Prior to 1OAK, the space was home to Jet Nightclub. Jet closed Sep. 6, 2011.

1OAK joins a string of nightclubs to shutter in Las Vegas recently, including Intrigue at Wynn, Hyde at Bellagio and Kaos at Palms.

Here’s a fascinating interview on KNPR about the changing landscape of nightlife in Las Vegas, and we’re not just saying that because we were the one being interviewed.

1OAK Nightclub covers 16,000-square-foot and has a New York theme. As with all 1OAK nightclubs, artist Roy Nachum designed the space.

The club is operated by The Butter Group. While 1OAK stands for “one of a kind,” there are others, including in L.A. and New York City.

No official announcement has been made Mirage, or its owner MGM Resorts, about future plans for the 1OAK Nightclub space.

If you’re bored, check out our 10 Surprising Things About Las Vegas Nightclubs.

Update (1/25/20): Our scoop has been confirmed officially.

Circa Resort Unveils Restaurant Line-Up

Circa Las Vegas opens in Dec. 2020, but the new downtown resort has already announced its five restaurant offerings.

Circa’s restaurant line-up includes a deli, a steakhouse, a burger and wings joint, an Asian spot and a BBQ truck.

Here’s a quick overview of the restaurants coming to Circa Las Vegas:

  • Saginaw’s Delicatessen from Detroit
  • Barry’s Downtown Prime, a classic steakhouse
  • Victory Burger & Wings Co. from the crew behind The D’s American Coney Island
  • 8 East, an Asian restaurant from the genius behind downtown’s Le Thai
  • Project BBQ, the first permanent food truck on Fremont Street

Let’s get into the renderings, already! Here’s more about the restaurants at Circa resort.

Saginaw’s Delicatessen

Saginaw’s Delicatessen comes from well-known Michigan restaurateur Paul Saginaw.

Circa deli

Saginaw is an Indian word meaning “land of the Sauks.” Look, not ever photo caption can rock your world.

Saginaw is best known for his Zingerman’s Deli, an Ann Arbor institution he opened with partner Ari Weinzweig, acclaimed as being among the world’s best sandwich joints.

Saginaw's Circa

“Delicatessen” comes from the Latin, meaning “alluring, delightful, dainty,” much like us. Dainty, that is.

Downtown fanatics might recognize the Zingerman’s name from the coffee stand at the D Las Vegas, currently undergoing an expansion.

Fun fact: We played craps with Paul Saginaw one time. He’s a hoot.

Barry’s Downtown Prime

You can’t open at Las Vegas casino without a steakhouse. It’s the law. Take a gander at Barry’s.

Barry's Downtown steakhouse

Do people still take ganders? Well, they should.

Barry’s Downtown Prime has a solid pedigree before it even opens, as the chef will be Barry Dakake, the force behind N9NE at Palms which closed in Sep. 2017.

For the record, Barry Dakake’s name is pronounced “day-cake.” It’s not like he hasn’t heard jokes about that before, so please grow up like we probably have.

Barry's Downtown Circa

Bold move to name a place “Barry’s.” First, not the flashiest. Second, what if they fire the chef? Bright side: At least the name doesn’t have a number in it.

Dakake’s partner, Yassine Lyoubi, who served as general manager for N9NE Steakhouse and Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres at Sahara (formerly SLS).

Barry's Downtown steakhouse Circa

Boom. Now we know where Vegas Vickie will be at Circa. Fun fact: Her leg’s going to move again!

There aren’t a lot of sure things in Las Vegas, but Barry’s Downtown Prime is bound to be one of them.

Victory Burger & Wings Co.

Victory Burger & Wings will overlook Circa’s sportsbook, being touted as the world’s largest.

Circa’s going to be sports-friendly, so it needed a sports bar. Victory covers all the bases.

Victory Burger and Wings

We predict you’ll be seeing us a lot, Victory Burger & Wings.

Victory Burger & Wings comes from the folks behind the popular American Coney Island at The D, Chris Sotiropoulos and Grace Keros.

The menu will include specialty burgers, wings and appetizers.

Oh, and beer, lots of beer. (Bonus points if you read that in the voice of Keanu Reeves.)

Victory burger Circa

Why do we feel like our pleas for a “No Sports” section is going to go unanswered?

8 East

We’ll say this as delicately as we can: Any restaurant from the folks behind Fremont East’s Le Thai restaurant is going to kick ass.

8 East restaurant

Please let us know if saying an Asian restaurant is going to “kick ass” is racist, thanks.

8 East was inspired by metropolitan Asian food markets and will feature pan-Asian cuisine. The menu will span Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean and Thai dishes.

We’re going to breeze by the part in the news release where it says 8 East will have “communal dining.” Hey, no restaurant is perfect.

8 East Asian Circa

Time to brush up on your chopsticks. Also racist, probably.

An Asian restaurant will fill a niche not currently available at Circa’s sister casinos, Golden Gate and The D. 8 East is likely to be a big hit with a lot of downtown regulars, as an inordinate number hail from Hawaii.

Project BBQ

This downtown fixture is finally going to find a permanent home. It’s moved around often to accommodate the ever-changing construction footprint of Circa, and before that the Las Vegas Club demolition site.

Project BBQ will be Fremont Street’s only permanent food truck and its first Carolina BBQ joint. The truck will be moving west from its current position, toward Plaza and near the Main Street stage at Fremont Street Experience. Prime real estate.

Our pal Chef Rex Bernales keeps it simple and satisfying, offering pulled brisket, pork and chicken, among other BBQ favorites.

Project BBQ Fremont

This isn’t the first time someone’s pork has been pulled downtown, if you get our drift.

The mix of restaurants at Circa seems to have a decent amount of variety, both in terms of cuisine and price points.

Worth noting: Some have asked where Golden Gate’s famed shrimp cocktail will resurface a Circa. Owner Derek Stevens says they haven’t decided yet. Stay tuned.

Given how quickly Circa is being built, these new restaurants will be here before you know it, and we can’t wait to sink our teeth in.

Disclosure: Our day job is in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience, and The D and Golden Gate are casino partners of that organization. Our opinions are our own, especially the poorly spelled ones. We sometimes drink when we blog, in case that weren’t obvious.

MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay Sold for $4.6 Billion

MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay have been sold for $4.6 billion. Which is only news to you if you don’t read headlines, but whatever.

According to a news release, MGM Growth Properties (MGP) and Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust (BREIT) will co-own the resorts. MGP will own 50.1% of the joint venture, and Blackstone will own 49.9%. Blackstone also owns Cosmopolitan.

Yeah, not exactly sexy, but news is news.

Mandalay Bay

Customers won’t notice any changes at Mandalay Bay, so don’t freak out.

The bottom line is this deal is similar to the recent sale of Bellagio in that MGM Resorts will continue to operate the resorts.

The sale of MGM Grand and Mandalay Bay are part of a larger “asset light” strategy on the part of MGM Resorts. It also seems to be part of a larger “boring us to death” strategy involving REITs, lots of initialisms and companies paying themselves rent.

MGM Resorts’ initial annual rent will be $292 million. Which shouldn’t be a big deal until the recession hits, then everything goes to hell in a handbasket.

MGM Grand

MGM Grand is the green one.

The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2020.

Checking In on Downtown Grand’s New Hotel Tower

It’s been a minute since we shared photos of Downtown Grand’s new hotel tower, so consider this that.

Downtown Grand construction

We’re calling it topped off.

The new tower is set to open in mid-2020, and will have seven guest room floors, adding 495 new rooms to the downtown hotel-casino.

The 495 new rooms will include 405 standard rooms, 67 studio units, 20 one-bedroom suites and three presidential suites. Guests will be able to recognize the presidential suites immediately because their quality will be unimpeachable.

Downtown Grand construction

Downtown Grand says it’s known for its “industrial chic aura.” We enjoy visiting, anyway.

The new Downtown Grand tower is being build where the hotel’s valet parking was once located. Construction began about a year ago.

The new tower will connect to Downtown Grand on the casino and pool levels.

While Downtown Grand’s casino has struggled since the resort opened in Oct. 2013, its hotel business is said to be stronger, so the owners are clearly playing to the resort’s strengths in an attempt to drive more room revenue.

Downtown Grand tower

The views won’t win any awards, but Downtown Grand’s rooms are some of the best downtown and quieter than those along Fremont Street, as is the casino.

Downtown Grand, formerly Lady Luck, is owned by CIM Group and operated by Fifth Street Gaming.

While we’re on the subject of Downtown Grand, we recently spoiled the surprise the hotel will be getting a new restaurant, Hot N Juicy Crawfish. No, the new restaurant hasn’t yet been announced yet, that’s just how we roll.

Hot N Juicy Downtown Grand

Interesting how “hot” gets top billing. “Juicy” needs a better agent.

The Louisiana-style seafood restaurant will move into the space previously home to Commissary After Dark and the short-lived Downtown Underground eSports Lounge.

We’ll keep an eye on the construction at Downtown Grand, so check back for further updates whenever you’re done skimming stories on blogs where you don’t even bother to read the last sentence. Rude.