Derek Stevens, owner of The D, Golden Gate and the under-construction Circa Las Vegas, gave away 2,000 flights to Las Vegas to help kick-start visitation and support airline travel following the COVID-19 shutdown.
Las Vegas casinos have been closed since March 18, but many will reopen on June 4, 2020.
Stevens initially offered up 1,000 free flights on May 27, 2020, but those were snatched up within a couple of hours. Another 1,000 flights were made available later in the day. Travelers grabbed those almost immediately as well.
Derek Stevens just sort of gets it.
Derek Stevens made it clear those who took advantage of the free flights did not have to stay at his Las Vegas casinos, although many booked rooms at The D and Golden Gate.
Reservation lines were overwhelmed, and many folks on the company’s player development team (VIP hosts) took to the phones to assist reservations staff. They still couldn’t keep up with the demand.
Demand, of course, has been a big question of late. Casinos across the country have seen record revenue since they’ve reopening, but some have questioned how quickly Las Vegas visitation will recover, or if it will at all.
Given our own level of pent up demand, we suspect Vegas will see a healthy level of visitation right out of the gate. Hotels, casinos and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity, however.
Here’s one last look at an empty Longbar at The D. Let’s hope we never see this again.
The end of the sadness is near. Or “nigh,” if you’re fancy.
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 comes from well-known Michigan restaurateur Paul Saginaw.
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.
“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.
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.
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).
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.
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.)
Why do we feel like our pleas for a “No Sports” section is going to go unanswered?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Circa Las Vegas has made impressive progress during its first year of construction, and we’ve got a look at the current state of the new hotel-casino downtown.
The $1.2 billion Circa is expected to open in December 2020. The project broke ground on February 19, 2019.
Downtown’s about to get some new shiny.
Here’s an amazing fun fact about Circa: Since Oct. 3, 2019, Circa has been adding a floor per week.
The 44-story, 500-foot-tall Circa will eventually have 777 rooms, but will open with closer to 500 rooms, plus 71 suites. The final mix of rooms and suites will be based upon demand.
Among the new resort’s features will be what’s billed as the “world’s largest sports book.” Gird your loins, Westgate.
Here’s a look at the space where the sports book will reside when it slides into home. Or something.
They’ll probably spruce it up a bit before opening day.
The three-level Circa sports book, expected to cost about $20 million, will have a 78 million pixel high-definition screen.
Here’s a rendering of the finished product for comparison purposes, reversed angle from the perspective above.
Consider it spruced.
The jewel of Circa will be its rooftop pool complex, with six pools open 365 days a year. It’s projected the pools will be able to serve about 4,000 people a day.
The video screen at the pool will have 14 million pixels.
Here’s the owner of Circa, Derek Stevens, showing off his baby. Stevens and his brother Greg also own The D and Golden Gate.
We were the first to quote Derek Stevens as saying, “Downtown is under-pooled.” He’s determined to remedy that.
Here’s the rendering of what the pool deck will look like when it’s completed.
Good luck escaping the sports at Circa.
It was a blast being among the first to walk around the future Circa casino, where we fully anticipate making regular donations.
Circa will have 1,350 slot machines and 49 table games.
Here’s a “before” shot of Circa’s casino!
Savsies on Wheel of Fortune.
During our tour, we spotted an area we’re pretty sure will be the home of Vegas Vickie upon her much-anticipated return to Fremont Street. She is set to be a featured part of Circa’s
The Circa lobby will have a moon roof.
From what we can tell, the Vegas Vickie sign is so tall (40 feet), she’ll actually extend beyond the ceiling of the casino, protruding through an opening in the ceiling.
We couldn’t help but create this weak and entirely speculative image of where Vegas Vickie might go at Circa.
When we asked a friend at Circa which way Vickie’s leg will go, the reply was, “We don’t know.” If they don’t know, we sure as hell don’t.
Our mole got some sweets shots of Vegas Vickie during her renovation at Yesco Signs. She’s got a fresh coat of paint!
If you love classic Vegas signs, this photo gives a whole new meaning to “halfway to completion.”
Across the street from Circa is another key element of the project, deemed Garage Mahal.
The nine-story Garage Mahal structure will hold about 1,200 vehicles, but the big selling point is it’s the first parking garage in Las Vegas to be built around catering to rideshare services like Lyft and Uber.
In Persian, “Mahal” means mansion or palace. Because writing photo captions is hard.
More fun facts: More than 10.75 million pounds of rebar (emphasis on “bar,” because Vegas) have been installed at Circa to-date, as well as 12.2 million pounds of structural steel (emphasis on “pounds,” because you know how we are).
Circa is set to announce more about its bars and five restaurants in the next couple of months. Let’s just say the mix of cuisines will augment the already popular options at The D. Hint: Think “east,” both “coast” and “far.”
We haven’t heard much about non-sports entertainment at Circa, although a stage production called “Circa du Soleil” would have been absolute gold, marketingwise.
How is Circa coming along so quickly? Credit has to go to the stellar efforts of Steelman Partners (architecture and design), McCarthy Building Companies (general contractor) and Tre Builders (construction manager).
Oh, and the construction folks, of course. The total number of construction workers on Circa and Garage Mahal is about 600. Note: Safety vests are hawt. Are we right, ladies?
Oh, like we were going to write this entire story without a single use of the word “erection”? Do you know this blog at all?
Disclosure: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience as our day job, and The D and Golden Gate are member casinos of that organization. Our opinions are our own.
Update (1/7/20): The first windows have been put into place at Circa.
No panes, no gain.
Enjoy a few more photos of Circa’s construction, several of which are accidentally in focus.
Update (1/14/20): On Jan. 14, 2020, the pedestrian bridge between Circa and Garage Mahal appeared overnight, literally.
No, that’s not what they’re called officially, but just play along.
Recently, temporary casinos opened at the former sites of the Las Vegas Club and Mermaids in order to meet gaming requirements to extend the licenses associated with these demolished venues.
For exactly eight hours each.
The sites are now part of the construction site of a new resort, Circa Las Vegas, so guests got the chance to be the first to gamble as the new casino. Sort of.
Here’s the temporary casino at the Las Vegas Club, open for a day on June 11, 2019.
No drink service, but charming nonetheless.
Each pop-up casino had exactly 16 video poker machines.
Las Vegas Club and Mermaids closed back in 2016, but the current owners, Greg and Derek Stevens, need to keep the gaming licenses active, so they get to indulge in this fun (but expensive) ritual.
Here’s a look inside the miniature casino at the Las Vegas Club site.
Ever get lost in a Vegas casino? Not this one. You’re looking at the entire thing.
We say “expensive” because these pop-up casinos cost $50,000-$60,000 to set up and operate for a day. Century Gaming is the go-to vendor for such temporary casinos around town. The money wagered in the machines goes to them, not the company that arranges for the pop-up casino.
After the first day, on June 12, 2019, all the machines were moved a few feet away to where Mermaids used to serve its infamous deep fried Oreos. We know, because we had the last one ever served there. We still don’t feel quite right.
Even on a construction site, still cleaner than Mermaids was.
For whatever reason, people don’t tend to flock to these pop-up casinos. The pay tables aren’t great, but they aren’t horrible.
Just five people played on the machines at the first location, and about the same played the second day, reportedly.
Let’s look inside the Mermaids pop-up casino for no good reason other than for posterity.
The easiest way to tell a loose slot machine is to see which one we’re playing.
We love them, however, and have yet to lose when playing at a temporary casino. In fact, at the Mermaids location, we hit two four-of-a-kinds and walked away with $100 in profit.
Construction dust is lucky!
The real question, of course, is were we among the last to play at Mermaids or among the first to play at Circa?
We would be remiss if we didn’t share the latest from the Circa construction site.
Circa is going vertical.
Up above, Fremont Street Experience (where we work in digital marketing as our day job) is in the throes of a $32 million renovation of the Viva Vision video screen. Here’s an update on the progress of that project as well. Don’t you know this blog at all?
The upgraded screen looks bomb, or possibly fleek. See more.
Pop-up casinos are quirky part of Las Vegas casino culture.
While we think they’re sort of dumb and a waste of time and money, we will rarely turn down the chance to gamble outside and stick it to The Man with a win.
The start of construction follows a lengthy demolition of the former Las Vegas Club, Mermaid’s casino and the Glitter Gulch strip club. Demolition of the one-block site at 18 Fremont started in February 2017. Note: Circa’s street address will be 8 Fremont Street.
Preparation of the site on Fremont Street took several months, much of which was spent chipping through a material which has caused headaches for innumerable builders in Las Vegas, caliche.
This Dec. 2018 photo shows a machine breaking up caliche. “Caliche” is a Dothraki word meaning “queen.”
Now, the Circa site is a hive of activity as crews drill holes for “caissons.”
We are proud to bring you all the Las Vegas dirt.
While we don’t pretend to know anything about construction, we have to care because this construction involves a Las Vegas casino.
A “caisson” in this context is a colloquial term referring to concrete poured into a hollow cylindrical form. Yes, we stole that from Wikipedia. We are a blog, not a Structural Engineer.
We were on-site to see the very first rebar “cage” at Circa lifted by a crane and inserted into a 120-foot hole, later filled with concrete. Which, trust us, sounds a lot sexier than it really is.
We were there to see Circa’s first concrete poured. And it is exceptionally rude for you to wonder if we have a life.
Anyway, crews are drilling and filling six caissons a day at Circa. They will be part of the foundation of the new resort, and there will be 308 caissons when all is said and done.
Thankfully, if we get any of this information wrong, there are a lot of experts on the Internet who will gleefully correct us.
We asked about those blue tanks. Apparently, they’re used to collect the “slug water” so it doesn’t go into the storm drains. Just pretend to know what slug water is, like we did.
Circa is expected to open in 2020, so crews are working 24/7, seven days a week, through rain and snow (yes, this was actually a thing recently).
While the caissons are rolling along (like we weren’t going to use that line at some point), crews are also busy over-excavating nine elevator shafts, whatever that might mean.
Quite the drill bit collection you’ve got there.
Here’s another shot of the drill guys doing their thing.
Shout-out to the Underminer.
Next, construction crews will drill cap footings for the building’s vertical components.
Again, we’re flying blind here, but we need words to keep the photos from slapping together.
We are determined to have the most “before” photos of Circa than any Las Vegas blog.
As a reference point, here’s what Circa is going to look like “after.”
While we may not entirely grasp what’s happening at the Circa site, we’re happy to see all the progress.
More than a few projects in Las Vegas have been taking longer than expected, or have completely stalled, so witnessing a project moving forward so quickly helps restore our faith in the rebar gods.
“Rebar Cages” would’ve been a great name for a Sting album.
Thanks to our friends at Tre Builders (Circa’s project management company) for some patient hand-holding with all this construction talk, and we’re sorry we don’t take better notes.
Useless fact of the day: Circa is an anagram of “ricca,” the feminine form of the Italian “ricco,” meaning “rich.”
We expect to visit the Circa site often (yes, the restraining orders are already being drawn up), so check back for all the updates you can stomach.
Hey, we like new and shiny, and Circa will qualify on both counts. Read more about Circa and check out some glorious renderings while you’re at it.
It’s been a long time coming, but now we know the name of the new casino resort coming to downtown in 2020: Circa Resort & Casino.
The owners of Circa, Derek and Greg Stevens, revealed the name and details of the resort at their Downtown Las Vegas Events Center. The Stevens also own The D and Golden Gate casinos.
Here’s a good look at Circa, and it’s about time!
Boom as the kids say. Not very many of them say that, but some.
Not going to lie, we got warm feelings in our special places when we first saw that rendering, and it’s just the beginning.
Ready to experience some warmth?
Circa will be the tallest building in downtown Las Vegas. “Circa” comes from the Latin, “circum,” so you might say it will be circum-sized.
The new resort, expected to cost in the neighborhood of $1 billion, will sit on the former site of the Las Vegas Club, Mermaids casino and the Glitter Gulch strip club.
Circa casino is touted as the first ground-up resort development since 1980. That was the Sundance, which later became Fitzgerald’s and then The D.
The name Circa is meant to “celebrate the timeless spirit of the city while leading the charge for a bold new era with game-changing guest offerings.”
Here’s a slick video about this new Vegas offering.
According to the official news release, Circa “will mix the glamour of vintage Vegas with modern luxuries and cutting-edge technology, honoring the golden age of the city. Guests can expect top-notch entertainment while enjoying honest, attentive and friendly service.”
Shockingly, we actually love the name and we hate everything.
We’re just going to keep sharing renderings until you make us stop.
The only moment of pause we had when we first heard the name (after which we were sworn to secrecy, and it’s been weeks of agony ever since) is it sounded a little like “Circus Circus,” but the feeling quickly passed. We suspect the chances of confusion between these two casinos will be slim to none.
Now, we’re more interested in diving into what in the hell the Stevens and their team of geniuses have been up to. (Disclaimer: We are friends with many of the aforementioned geniuses, and we also work at Fremont Street Experience downtown, however, our opinions are our own.)
From the renderings, it appears they’ve been up to a lot.
Here’s the entrance on Fremont Street where Mermaids used to be. Please stop whining about missing the fried Oreos, they were gross. We know because we had the last one ever sold.
Circa will have 777 rooms, “a range of eclectic restaurants” (to be announced later), the longest outdoor bar on Fremont Street, a spa (we got to break that one on our podcast in Feb. 2016) and, understatement of the year, a pool.
In our 2016 interview with Derek Stevens, he described downtown as “underpooled,” and it’s clear Circa will seek to remedy that.
The hotel will feature a huge, multi-tiered pool amphitheater, which isn’t something we knew existed until pretty much right now.
There will be six pools and a huge video screen, as well as the anticipated beverages, food, beverages, private cabanas, beverages and DJs. But most beverages. The pool complex will accommodate 4,000 people.
They’re going to need a really big remote.
But wait, there’s more.
If you know anything about Derek Stevens and his crew, you know they love the sportsball (and the puckball also, especially since the Vegas Golden Knights came to town).
It’s not surprising, then, that Circa will have a multi-level, stadium-style sportsbook. Since it’s Las Vegas, you know it will also have “the biggest screen in sportsbook history.”
Not your everyday man cave.
The Stevens recently announced a partnership with sports gaming media organization Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN) to bring an in-house broadcast studio to Circa.
While we’re not a sports person, we’re going to just roll with the punches on this one. Which, it should be noted, is a sports metaphor.
We also snagged this sweet rendering of the casino bar at Circa.
Longbar at The D is shaking in its boots right about now.
Check out this shot of the Circa Las Vegas casino. It will have two levels, rare in Las Vegas, although The D has a two-floor casino as well.
We suspect a good number of our hard-earned dollars will be devoted to beating the pants off the Stevens brothers. They’ll be fine.
Dibs on Wheel of Fortune, wherever it might end up.
The D and Golden Gate recently combined their loyalty clubs, and The One card will work at Circa when it opens as well.
As if that’s not enough sensory overload, you should get a load of the parking garage.
The parking garage will be named, wait for it, Garage Mahal. Told you there are geniuses involved. When we shared that scoop back in July 2018, complete with a misspelling, people thought we were kidding. Rude.
The Taj Mahal was named for an emperor’s wife, Mumtaz Mahal, making this the most useless caption in the history of ever.
Why tout a parking garage? Or give it a name? It’s because it’s fun. Remember when Las Vegas casinos did nutty stuff just for entertainment value? Well, there you go.
Garage Mahal promises to be state-of-the-art, designed specifically with rideshare in mind.
Nobody ever thinks to give props to the graphic artist who does these renderings, but we owe them a cocktail.
It will have 1,200 spaces and will be across Main Street between the Plaza and Main Street Station. It will be connected to the main hotel by a bridge. We took a photo of the space awhile back, to help get your bearings.
What’s left to say, other than please dive into the renderings and if you don’t feel things you might be a cyborg.
One final note: Vegas fans will be pleased to know the Stevens have confirmed news we’ve shared previously. The iconic Vegas Vickie statue will be making her way back to Fremont Street as part of the Circa Las Vegas resort.
Vegas Vickie is the counterpart of Vegas Vic, and she once sat above the Glitter Gulch strip club. Read more.
Vegas Vickie will be refurbished and will be a key design feature of Circa’s hotel lobby. Vickie’s coming back, Vegas Vic, so better clean up your act. (Looking at you, Pioneer gift shop.)