Category Archives: Downtown Las Vegas

Downtown Las Vegas is a quirky alternative to the Las Vegas Strip, with good gambling, a grittier vibe and a diverse collection of restaurants, bars and casinos. Downtown Las Vegas isn’t for everyone, but many locals and tourists enjoy it for the value, authenticity and lively atmosphere.

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.

Vegas Vic Neon Sign Gets Much-Needed Repairs

An iconic Las Vegas neon sign, Vegas Vic, was recently repaired following months of neglect.

The Fremont Street fixture, first erected in 1951, looks better than ever thanks to the efforts of the YESCO sign company. (Before you point it out, we understand “YESCO sign company” is redundant, as YESCO stands for Young Electric Sign Company, so it’s like saying “ATM machine.” We love your freakish attention to detail.)

Here’s a look at Vegas Vic following his rejuvenation surgery!

Vegas Vic Las Vegas

The neon king of smokin’ and cow-pokin’ is back! Speaking of cowpokes, awkward fact: Bestiality was legal in Nevada until 2017.

Vegas Vic made his debut in 1947, first at the Chamber of Commerce building. Shortly thereafter, he began to stand watch over the Pioneer Club.

Vegas Vic neon sign

Don’t be alarmed if you experience southerly moistness after gazing into Vegas Vic’s piercing blue eyes.

The Pioneer Club casino closed in 1995. Now, it’s a gift shop.

In fact, it was the Pioneer gift shop owner, Haim Gabay, who paid to have Vegas Vic repaired. Gabay is the former owner of the Bonanza Gift Shop, touted as the world’s largest gift shop. He sold Bonanza for $50 million in 2016.

Technically, the responsibility for maintaining Vegas Vic falls to the owner(s) of the building, in this case Schiff Enterprises. The owners have apparently been unresponsive to ongoing requests to get Vegas Vic back up to snuff. Duly noted, Schiff Enterprises.

Vegas Vic Fremont Street

When Vegas Vic first went up, he was the biggest neon sign in Nevada.

While the 40-foot-tall Vegas Vic is looking infinitely better than in recent months, he’s not the man he used to be.

Originally, Vegas Vic had a moving arm (it stopped moving in 1991) and featured audio saying, “Howdy Podner,” among other things.

In addition, a portion of Vic’s cowboy hat was trimmed away when the Fremont Street Experience was build in 1995.

Vegas Vic

Look closely and you can see where Vic’s hat was trimmed to accommodate the curve of the Viva Vision video screen.

Worth noting: The red circle in Vic’s pocket is a Durham Tobacco tag hanging from a yellow string. Vic presumably rolled his own.

Vegas Vic’s repair has sparked questions about his counterpart, Vegas Vickie.

Vegas Vickie was taken down in July 2017 (see below), and was recently transported to YESCO for a renovation. Vickie will return to Fremont Street in the new Circa Las Vegas resort in December 2020.

Vegas Vickie

Oh, like we were going to miss a chance to share this photo. Do you know this blog at all?

Vegas Vic and Vegas Vickie were married in 1994.¬†We can’t wait to see the pair reunited again following their legal separation.

Big thanks to the entities, governmental and otherwise, who kept the pressure on to get Vegas Vic back to his former glory.

Vegas Vic is an irreplaceable part of Vegas history, like the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign, and it warms our cockles to see him looking so sharp again.

Gamblers General Store Moves to New Location

A longtime go-to shop for gambling-related products in downtown Las Vegas, Gamblers General Store, has pulled up stakes and moved to a new location.

Thankfully, the store has only move about 180 feet from its former location, so customers shouldn’t have too much trouble locating it.

Here’s a look a the new digs.

Gamblers General Store

Two words: Dice table felt. Take it home. Learn the game. Get back to Vegas and stick it to The Man. Not to be confused with the “stickman.” Different thing.

The new address for Gamblers General Store is 727 S. Main St., Las Vegas, NV 89101.

From what we hear, the rent got too high at the former location, so the business made a move.

Here’s a hastily-assembled video for a look inside.

At the former location, there were several attempts at a restaurant inside the store’s footprint, but the most recent (and most promising), Dough Dough’s Hawaiian Cafe, tanked.

The restaurant closed “temporarily,” but the operators never came back. It appears no restaurant is in the cards for the new Gamblers General Store location.

Gamblers General Store

If you like gambling, this is the place for you. If not, WTF is wrong with you?

Gamblers General Store has been in operation since 1984. The store boasts 15,000 gambling products, including not only cards, dice and chips, but also items with awesome names like “lammers.”

Beyond the retail shop, the company’s makes some bank with personalized custom chips. Gamblers General Store has made chips for TV shows and movies, including “The Sopranos,” “Ocean’s 11” and even “Casino.” Both Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman and former Mayor Oscar Goodman get their promotional chips from Gamblers General Store, and that’s endorsement enough for us.

Our home is pretty much a hoarder’s paradise for items we’ve gotten from the Gamblers General Store, so check it out if you’re in the neighborhood.

Learn more at the official Web site.

Cannabition Weed Museum Closes at Neonopolis

Cannabition, promoted as a “cannabis immersive experience, history and art museum,” has closed suddenly at Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas.

The Cannabition weed museum was billed as home of the world’s largest bong, “Bongzilla.” All 24 feet of her.

The exterior of Cannabition was adorned by massive murals, which will now feel completely random and awkward.

weed museum mural

The cannabis museum opened Sep. 20, 2018. In other words, the paint was barely dry.

While Cannabition has acknowledged the attraction is closed, they haven’t officially announced what’s next.

That’s our thing, thank you very much.

We hear Cannabition will relocate to Planet 13, a massive “cannabis superstore and entertainment complex, also in Las Vegas.

The closure of the cannabis museum was no doubt a blow to Neonopolis. The shopping complex has seen some signs of life in recent months with the opening of Cat’s Meow karaoke lounge and Don’t Tell Mama piano bar (after a move from Fremont East).

A new restaurant, Taste of Africa, is presumably in the works.

Longtime Neonopolis tenants include Nerd Bar, Toy Shack, Axehole, Denny’s, Heart Attack Grill and Banger Brewing and Fremont Arcade.

We never saw many people in or around Cannabition, and rumor has it the venue was more of a placeholder pinned on the hopes of marijuana lounges being legalized in Las Vegas. While Cannabition featured marijuana, none could be consumed on the premises.

White Castle Harold Kumar mural

Gone, too, is one of the best photo ops, ever.

For the record, we tried to make it through this entire blog post without a weed pun.

Sorry, we couldn’t do it.

We’ll take the hit.

Update (9/6/19): Our scoop has been confirmed. The Cannabition Cannabis Museum will be part of Planet 13. Read more.

Cat’s Meow Karaoke Club Opens at Neonopolis and It Could Be a Thing

There’s something we need to communicate right up front: We are not a karaoke person.

That said, we’re pretty sure the new Cat’s Meow karaoke club at Neonopolis in downtown Las Vegas is going to make a killing.

Karaoke is a Japanese word meaning “Yeah, you did that in public.”

While Cat’s Meow is new to Las Vegas, it’s anything but new. The original location in New Orleans has been going strong for 30 years.

Cat's Meow

Pick a song and throw caution to the wind. You’re in Vegas. We specialize in caution-throwing.

We popped into Cat’s Meow Las Vegas about three minutes after it opened, and there were already signs this new venue is going to be a winner, despite what has traditionally been a challenging location.

Neonopolis has struggled for years to find the right mix of tenants, but Cat’s Meow seems a perfect fit, both for the shopping complex and Fremont Street.

Cat's Meow Neonopolis

Cat’s Meow sits atop the International Eatery. It’s fairly important you don’t eat here.

Cat’s Meow is expected to overcome one of the challenges of being in Neonopolis (access) with a shiny new escalator.

Management says the escalator has been approved and will be installed in August. It will deliver guests from Fremont Street directly to the venue’s front door. This is sure to be a godsend for another nightlife business on the second floor, The Nerd, as well.

Cat's Meow

Who cares about an escalator? Cat’s Meow, that’s who. It’s a trek without one.

Cat’s Meow comes from the owners of the Deja Vu strip club chain, so they know a little about crowd-pleasing entertainment.

Among the many attributes of Cat’s Meow: Two bars.

Cat's Meow

Cat’s Meow is determined to give your photoreceptors a workout.

A lot of time, money and thought has gone into the interior design of Cat’s Meow, including the restroom, with its unisex washroom area.

Cat's Meow karaoke Las Vegas

Destination restroom right here.

The furniture is plentiful and quirky.

Cat's Meow Las Vegas

Built for cool, not comfort.

Cat’s Meow is massive, and the karaoke club takes up only a portion of the available space.

Rumors abound a second development phase of the space is in the works, and when we asked if it might be a strip club, we didn’t get a “no.” We trust there will be some hurdles if that’s the plan, but downtown hasn’t seen a strip club since Glitter Gulch was demolished to make way for Circa Las Vegas.

Here’s a security breach of the space that’s still in the works.

Cat's Meow

Two words: Topless karaoke. Just saying.

But back to the karaoke!

Even minutes into Cat’s Meow being open, the energy was palpable. This probably has to do with the DJs in the booth and the emcee on the stage.

The emcee keeps the flow of the show going, livening up the performances of even the least talented karaoke participants.

Cat's Meow Las Vegas downtown

There’s a good chance this guy gets Red Bull intravenously.

As with any karaoke venue, you occasionally get singers you suspect must be ringers, but aren’t. They’re just the right kind of singer with the perfect song and liquid courage to spur them on.

From what we can tell, the staff at Cat’s Meow were auditioned for their singing chops, because they frequently jump onstage between songs by guests.

This keeps the overall karaoke quality high, and seeing one’s server onstage belting one out makes the whole experience more fun and interactive.

Cat’s Meow provides a curated song list. This helps the energy level, too, as it prevents unfortunate song choices that can be a buzzkill.

Here’s a look at the Cat’s Meow song menu: Part one and part two.

Note the ingenious $50 “cut the line VIP pass.” Pricey, but we get the feeling Cat’s Meow knows its customers and their priorities. When you’re on vacation, time is valuable, so it’s a relatively small price to pay to expedite one’s moment in the spotlight.

Costumes and music props add another level of silliness to the proceedings and help differentiate Cat’s Meow from the competition. Although, in Las Vegas, there’s not a lot of competition. For karaoke on The Strip, it’s Ellis Island. Downtown, it’s pretty much Cat’s Meow.

We’re not telling you about anywhere else as it might encourage you to sing in public.

karaoke Cat's Meow Las Vegas

Choose your warbling accoutrement.

As you might expect, the libations are plentiful at Cat’s Meow. The pours are a little strict, but we suspect bartenders were following the rules closely during the soft opening.

The official grand opening of Cat’s Meow is July 18, 2019.

Our lone criticism of Cat’s Meow is a service charge tacked into drinks. Nuisance charges are a hot button topic in Las Vegas at the moment, so we weren’t thrilled to see this one.

Cat's Meow karaoke club Vegas

Just a dozen more Captains and diet and we’d have been up on that stage!

To the credit of Cat’s Meow management, we heard back from them immediately about our concerns.

The company says the service charge is, in effect, a bonus for employees. Per Nevada law, service charges must be distributed to employees and can’t be retained by the employer, according to the club rep.

Management also says service charges aren’t subject to Nevada sales tax since they are distributed to employees, thus saving the venue money. Management of Cat’s Meow felt the service charge “would allow employees to share in the success of the business.”

We don’t get it, but we’re also not investing a bajillion dollars in a new business venture. We figure if it’s akin to a 10% auto-gratuity, we’ll adjust our tip accordingly. Management says they’ll be posting signage and training staff to explain the service charge to help avoid confusion.

On the bright side, a specialty cocktail menu is in the works. The Cat’s Meow in New Orleans is famous for its 3-for-1 drink specials, so expect that to be offered during the happy hour at Cat’s Meow Las Vegas.

Overall, Cat’s Meow looks and feels like a concept tailor made for the circus that is Fremont Street.

Cat's Meow Vegas

What happens in Vegas gets streamed live, so fair warning.

The party atmosphere at Cat’s Meow hits all the right notes, giving guests permission to check their inhibitions and unleash their inner Gaga.

Because, as we once said in our incredibly popular Twitter feed, “Las Vegas isn’t just a place to go, it’s a vacation from ourselves.”

Yes, we just quoted us.

If you hit Cat’s Meow karaoke club at Neonopolis, tell us what you think.

Cat's Meow Las Vegas

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Pop-Up Casinos Appear for a Day at Former Las Vegas Club and Mermaids

We love pop-up casinos!

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.

Pop-up casino

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.

Circa pop-up casinos

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.

Mermaids pop-up casino

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.

Mermaids temporary casino

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.

Circa popup casino

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 2019

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?

Viva Vision upgrade

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.