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.

Circa Announces Opening Dates, First Adults-Only Casino Resort in Vegas History

There’s been a flurry of great news around Circa Las Vegas, so let’s dive in! We’ve got exclusive video, the most in-depth interview ever given by the casino’s owner, Derek Stevens, and more.

Not to make it about us, of course.

First up, Circa has announced its opening dates. Yep, there will be two dates.

The first five floors of Circa Las Vegas open Oct. 28, 2020, months ahead of schedule. The hotel opens Dec. 28, 2020.

Circa Las Vegas

Circa Las Vegas has officially been topped off.

On Oct. 28, the resort’s casino will open, as will its sports book (touted as the biggest in the world), a number of bars and the massive pool complex.

Four restaurants will open on Oct. 28, but 8 East won’t because, as Derek Stevens says, “There will be a crane going through the center of the restaurant.” Learn more about the restaurants at Circa.

As mentioned, Circa’s hotel opens Dec. 28. Reservations will be taken starting June 24, 2020.

Derek Stevens believes this is the first time in Vegas history a resort has been given an exemption so a casino can open separately from a hotel. Current regulations require a casino resort must have 200 rooms to open.

We sat down for an exclusive chat with Derek Stevens to get all the inside scoop about Circa, and there’s a lot.

Circa

Derek Stevens likes casinos so much, he made one from scratch.

Kick back and enjoy all the spilled tea, or whatever the kids are calling it now.

Are you not entertained?

Next up in our cavalcade of Circa news: The resort has announced it will be for adults only.

That’s right, Circa will be for ages 21 and older.

No Kids Quest. No strollers. No kids in the pool. No kids at all, 24/7. Ever.

This is seriously the best news in the history of Las Vegas.

Speaking of history, it’s believed this is the first time a Las Vegas casino resort has been restricted to 21-plus, ever.

Circa rendering

Circa rolled out a bunch of new renderings. Check the photo gallery for more. Sup, Vegas Vickie?

As if all this great news weren’t enough to fill your gullet, there’s more.

On June 19, 2020, Circa Las Vegas had a topping off ceremony. During the ceremony, the last beam ever placed at Circa was hoisted into place.

Circa Las Vegas final beam

Circa owner Derek Stevens was so happy to see this lifted into place. In fact, he was beaming.

We had the awesome privilege of being able to strap a GoPro to the beam, so we captured this momentous occasion for posterity.

It’s epic.

If you watched until the end, you may have noticed the steel worker putting the final beam into place.

Check out the dude’s tattoo! You’ll try to think of something more Vegas than a guy with a Las Vegas sign tattoo securing the final beam on the newest Las Vegas casino, but you will fail.

Circa topped off

Even our haters are, like, “This puts the ‘vital’ in Vital Vegas.”

Prior to the beam being lifted, Derek Stevens and his executive team signed it, along with a number of the construction workers.

Since we’re doing things for posterity, we need to mention what Derek Stevens wrote on the beam. It wasn’t publicized, but we know people.

Stevens wrote the names and initials of his wife Nicole, his parents and brother, Greg Stevens (co-owner of The D and Golden Gate), his three children (Whitney, Sammy and Sera) and the initials of the company’s first employee in Vegas, Wayne Peters.

Derek Stevens

No pressure, Derek.

There are so many stories to be told about Circa.

There’s the story about the ventilation system being used for the first time in any Las Vegas casino: The air flow will be floor to ceiling, a true game-changer.

There’s the story about how COVID-19 actually helped speed up construction because the project didn’t have to be as concerned with noise affecting neighboring hotels (they were closed).

There’s the story about how at one point, elevators at the Circa construction site went from being able to carry 20 people to only being able to carry two per trip.

There’s the story about how important it was to finish and open Circa in 2020 (hint: tax incentives).

There’s the story about why Circa will have a massive video screen facing away from The Strip, rather than toward it. (It’s all about eyeballs on the freeway.)

Circa

This video screen will be seen by one trillion people. Note: We were drinking, so we may have rounded up.

Circa is the first new casino resort in downtown Las Vegas in 40 years, and we look forward to sharing more stories from Circa Las Vegas.

Here are more photos because we know how you are.

All Fremont Street Casinos Open June 4, Fremont Street Experience on June 3

All the casinos along Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas have confirmed they’ll open on June 4, 2020.

That sound you hear is this blog becoming fully engorged.

Fremont Street

Let’s Fremont again.

The casinos along Fremont Street are The D, Golden Gate, Plaza, Golden Nugget, Fremont, Binion’s and Four Queens.

Just-off-Fremont Downtown Grand and The Cal will also open on June 4.

In the case of some casinos, not all dining options or other amenities will be available upon reopening. The casinos and bars are really the important things, anyway.

As for the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall, officials say they’ll be open on June 3 at 9:00 a.m.

Fun fact: Virtually no one has ever gotten up early enough to see Fremont Street Experience at 9:00 a.m. If they have, they’re doing Vegas wrong.

Fremont Street closed

There’s a light at the end of the sad.

At the moment, the newly-renovated Viva Vision video screen, is playing a countdown to the reopening of casinos downtown and on The Strip. Specifically, June 4 at 12:01 a.m.

While the Fremont Street Experience mall opens June 3, it will do so without its signature live bands. Announcement of the venue’s free summer concert series was derailed by the COVID-19 crisis, and there’s been no word as to whether any of the planned concerts will happen this year.

In related news, the SlotZilla zipline will reopen on June 4 at 4:00 p.m.

SlotZilla Las Vegas

Time flies when you’re in lockdown. Welcome back, SlotZilla.

Demand is expected to be strong downtown (including ours) upon reopening. The buzz is hotels both downtown and on The Strip are receiving unexpected levels of room bookings, despite the fact hotels and casinos are currently limited to 50% occupancy.

Downtown Las Vegas is much less reliant on conventions and Asian visitors than The Strip, so it’s expected downtown could recover more quickly than other destinations.

We are personally going to leave our stimulus money in a variety of slot machines and bars along Fremont the minute they reopen. You know, to support Las Vegas. We’re selfless like that.

Casino Owner Gives Away 2,000 Free Flights to Las Vegas

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

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.

Longbar empty

The end of the sadness is near. Or “nigh,” if you’re fancy.

We did a complete walk-through of The D’s empty casino, so check it out.

While our usually reliable contacts at The D aren’t talking, we’re putting the over/under for the 2,000 one-way flights giveaway at $250,000.

As for the nearby Circa Las Vegas resort, it’s looking gorgeous.

Circa Golden Gate

Downtown’s oldest casino, Golden Gate, blends seamlessly with Circa, the newest. Bottom line: We should win far more awards for this blog.

Construction of Circa, set to cost in the neighborhood of $1.2 billion, has continued throughout the shutdown, so the new resort is on pace to open as planned in December 2020.

Circa’s floors are about two thirds built out, and it’s already the tallest structure in downtown Las Vegas.

Circa Las Vegas

Our future home away from home, Circa.

It now appears the majority of casinos in downtown Las Vegas will open June 4, 2020.

The D’s hotel will open June 3, with the casino opening one minute after they’re allowed to, per Derek Stevens.

We’ll see you at Longbar one minute after that.

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.

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.

Lyft Art Park Closes on Fremont East in Downtown Las Vegas

It was weird while is lasted. With zero fanfare, the quirky Lyft Art Park downtown closed and disappeared shortly after the calendar flipped to 2020.

And, yes, we understand most calendars don’t “flip” anymore. Your smartassery is duly noted.

Here’s the former home to some seriously offbeat art. The space has returned to its former glory as a parking lot next to Park on Fremont restaurant.

Lyft Art Park closed

It wasn’t paradise. And this parking lot was already paved. Can you believe that song came out 50 years ago?

The Lyft Art Park opened on Sep. 26, 2018, and featured a rotating collection of larger-than-life art pieces, many imported from Burning Man.

Featured art included a 30-foot ballerina, a massive polar bear and an out-sized robot.

Lyft Art Park ballerina

This statue, called “Euterpe” (named after a Greek muse), was on point.

Other pieces featured at Lyft Art Park included a bug thing, a cab thing, a trailer thing and several other things we can’t even describe as well as those.

Some of the art pieces have made their way to nearby locations.

The giant Flamingo now sits next to the Downtown Container Park.

Lyft Art Park flamingo

Lyft Art Park’s giant flamingo has flown a few blocks east. Yes, flamingos fly. Trust us, we are a photo caption.

The recycled lion is on temporary display in the porte cochere at the Plaza casino.

Plaza lion

Bonus points for reading our mind on that sign, Plaza.

It’s weird how you can take something for granted, then when it’s gone, miss it a lot. Like a short refractory period.

We took Riviera for granted, too, and we miss it now that it’s a parking lot. The former New Frontier site is going to be a parking lot as well.

The point is, enjoy things while you can, because nothing lasts forever. Thanks a lot, diminished testosterone levels. Or whatever we were originally talking about.