Category Archives: Las Vegas Bars

Stratosphere Confirms Rebrand to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod

Confirming a story we first shared nearly a year ago, Stratosphere has officially announced it will be rebranded to The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

We’ll give you a minute on the whole “Skypod” thing.

Strat Las Vegas

Out with the old, in with the thing we’ve been calling it for some time now.

While people have been calling Stratosphere “The Strat” for some time, the whole “Skypod” thing could take some getting used to.

While a news release from Golden Entertainment, owners of The Strat, says the resort will “begin its transition to The Strat” on Feb. 3, 2019, the rebrand has actually been underway for some time.

Although, the changes have been subtle.

Like the massive “Strat” in the hotel’s revamped porte cochere.

Strat casino

The Strat telegraphed its rebrand a little.

Golden Entertainment bought Stratosphere in late 2017. Renovations of the hotel-casino began in mid-2018.

One of the more visible changes was the replacement of the casino’s high limit slot room with a Starbucks.

That’s a strong statement, either about the state of The Strat’s casino or the direction of Las Vegas casinos. Let’s just go with it being a statement about coffee.

Strat Starbucks

We don’t get it, but we’ve literally never had coffee. It’s funky.

In Nov. 2018, Strat closed its Roxy’s Diner, replacing it with the Strat Cafe and Wok.

Roxy’s went from annoying (servers sang ’50s songs) to bland, but at least an effort was made to change up the dining offerings.

Strat Cafe

Everything in Las Vegas should pretty much have “Wok” slapped on the end of it.

Here’s a peek inside the Strat Cafe.

Strat Cafe

De-theming is a thing.

A nice addition to the Strat’s restaurant line-up is the addition of 108 Eats on the hotel’s Observation Deck.

108 Eats Strat

Nothing fancy, but guaranteed to hit the spot.

We stopped by right away because the grab-and-go restaurant is from the same chef behind downtown’s Esther’s Kitchen. 108 Eats doesn’t disappoint. The sandwiches and paninis are top-notch.

We also just like saying the word “panini.”

108 Eats Strat

So much better than it has to be.

There’s also a Froot Loops ice cream. That tastes exactly like Froot Loops. Well worth a visit when you’re checking out the view from the hotel’s 108th floor.

Don’t forget: There’s a fee to visit the Observation Deck, but just tell them you’re going to the lounge. You’ll want to take advantage of the happy hour, anyway, but your elevator ride will be free.

There’s more on tap at Stratosphere.

The Strat Stratosphere

At the moment, The Strat is straddling its current and future name.

The resort will introduce Blvd. & Main Taphouse in 2019. Here’s a rendering.

Blvd. and Main Tavern Strat

We trust “Blvd.” refers to Las Vegas Blvd. “Main” refers to Main Street. Strat is at the intersection of these streets. Hey, this isn’t rocket science.

Here’s another Blvd. & Main Tavern rendering, because you can never have too many renderings.

Blvd. & Main Tavern

We’re going to put that whole “you can never have too many renderings” thing to the test.

All right, just one more.

Blvd. & Main Tavern Strat

We love new.

Also in the mix will be a new View Lounge overlooking the casino floor and a fully remodeled race and sports book, which construction walls are already teasing.

Strat casino

Are we the only one who thinks this “Rising Soon” tagline is a little awkward given The Strat is the most prominent phallic object in Las Vegas?

Here’s a look at what’s the come at the race and sports book at The Strat.

Race and Sports Book Strat

Nice photo bomb, golf dude.

Here’s a rendering for the View Lounge.

View Lounge Strat

The rendering person at The Strat has been really busy.

Blvd. & Main Taphouse and View Lounge will be located on the northwest corner of the casino, basically at the bottom of the escalators as you enter from the self-parking garage.

Oh, and parking is still free at The Strat.

Another new addition will be 108 Drinks, a sister venue to 108 Eats. Rendering alert!

108 Drinks Strat

We were voting for 108 Dranks, but this will do.

Also in the works is a Links Lounge, a partnership with Aristocrat Technologies.

The lounge will offer Aristocrat’s popular “Link” slot machine series, including Lighting Link, Dragon Link and Liberty Link.

Strat Easter egg

Here’s a fun Easter egg. All the custom videos featuring The Strat contain something gold in honor of the resort owner, Golden Entertainment. We thought it was a faulty pixel. Hey, we can’t be right about everything.

Also new in 2019 will be a new loyalty program, True Rewards. The Strat will be the first Golden Entertainment venue to roll out the new program.

True Rewards will also be available at 130 venues operated by Golden, including about 60 PT’s pubs and several casinos in Las Vegas (Arizona Charlie’s), Laughlin (Aquarius, Colorado Belle, Edgewater), Pahrump and Maryland. Learn more.

True Rewards Strat

These adorable tier names, though!

So, about the “Skypod” in The Strat Hotel, Casino and Skypod.

It’s a little unclear why Strat would need to carve off the top of its tower with a different brand, but given the financial success of its thrill rides, it makes sense to try and make the most of those offerings.

Translation: The thrill rides at Strat print money.

In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the thrill rides at Strat make more than its casino, just as the restaurants at SLS make more than its gambling operation.

The “Skypod” refers to anything at the top of the Strat’s tower, including the revolving Top of the World restaurant (a must-do in Vegas), 107 SkyLounge and the thrill rides: Sky Jump, Big Shot, Insanity and X-Scream.

107 SkyLounge

There are happy hours, then there’s this happy hour.

We’ve heard rumblings of other thrill rides in the works for the Strat, but there have been no official confirmations to-date.

Buzz about The Strat’s name change has ranged from “We already call it that” to “When I hear ‘pod’ I think of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers'” to “The guitar people aren’t going to be happy abou this.”

“Strat” is a common way to refer to Fender Stratocaster guitars, of course.

We added you to Wikipedia’s disambiguation page, Strat. You’re welcome.

Strat resort Las Vegas

The Strat uses all caps in its new name. Please don’t. It will just encourage them.

Props to The Strat for its refresh. We’re always up for new things to see and do, and look forward to seeing what’s next.

We’ll be by to get a Strat-branded chip for our collection, too.

Here’s the latest from The Strat, including even more renderings!

Update (2/3/19): Tipster Jim C. shares Fellini’s Ristorante Italiano will close at The Strat in April 2019. No word about what might replace it.

Fellini's Stratosphere

Arrivederci, Fellini’s.

Hard Rock Rolls Out Painless Drink Voucher System

The first time we ever saw a voucher system for free drinks on a video poker machine, we had a minor meltdown.

That was at Mirage, back in 2015.

Then Caesars Entertainment made a splash when it rolled out drink monitoring to all its casino bars.

We still had sort of a meltdown, but we learned some deep breathing exercises and started asking questions.

Let’s just say we’ve done a 180 since 2015, largely due to understanding more about why drink monitoring systems are necessary and how, surprisingly, they help players.

This knowledge came in handy when we learned Hard Rock casino has implemented drink monitoring in all its casino bars. (Thanks to Lisa H. for the tip!)

Here’s a look at the new message guests see when they sit at a video poker machine at Hard Rock.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

What once gave us palpitations now elicits a “La-dee-dah.” Don’t judge. We used to musical theater.

No meltdown. Either we’re mellowing, or we’re starting to get a clue. You decide, because we’re drunk on comped drinks.

See, drink monitoring accomplishes a lot for casinos.

One, it cuts costs. Gone are the days when players would slip a dollar in a video poker machine and try to drink free all night. These systems assure players are actually playing, which is part of the deal to get drinks for “free.”

That’s the way it’s always been in Las Vegas, by the way, the monitoring was just never automated before.

Two, it takes the drink monitoring burden away from bartenders. Their reaction to drink monitoring systems has evolved much as ours has over the last couple of years, by the way. It’s no fun being a gatekeeper.

Three, drink monitoring systems prevent over-serving. The default in Las Vegas now seems to be players can earn about three free drinks per hour with continuous play. That’s how it works at Hard Rock, too.

So, what do these systems do for players?

One of the best benefits is monitoring systems keep freeloaders from taking up seats where you want to play. You know, to gamble. Which is sort of the point of having video poker at casino bars in the first place. They’re for gamblers.

Also, drink monitoring systems like the voucher system at Hard Rock take much of the mystery out of how much you have to play and at what betting level before you’ve earned more free hooch. You know where you stand.

The message on the machine at Hard Rock makes it clear. You put in $20, you get your first free drink. Then, just make $1 (or more) bets continuously, and you’ll get a steady supply.

By the time we were done at Hard Rock, we had more vouchers than we could actually redeem. We also won $60.

It was yet another reminder why Las Vegas is the best place on Earth.

Hard Rock drink vouchers

If you ever let a drink voucher go unredeemed, you’re doing Vegas wrong.

Some other small print at Hard Rock: The drink vouchers are only good for 12 hours, the vouchers aren’t transferable and the “beverage selection is limited.” They’ll have what you want unless you’re a snooty 60-year-old bottle of Macallan Valerio Adami person.

And, no, we don’t actually know what that is, but you get our point.

So, has Vegas changed in recent years? Yes.

Would we prefer to get free booze anytime, anywhere? Sure.

Are drinking monitoring systems coming to all the slots on Las Vegas casino floors? You bet.

But drink monitoring systems like the ones at Hard Rock or Caesars resorts or Westgate don’t even make the top three of our “Most Bothersome Things About Vegas Casinos” list.

That would be, in no particular order: 1) No plastic straws, 2) paid parking and 3) swapping out the liquor brand we order with a knock-off and lying about it.

By the way, parking at Hard Rock (soon to be Virgin Hotel Las Vegas) is free. Plus, they poured our Captain Morgan from a bottle and even included straws without our having to ask.

Man, alive, we love this town.

Plug Pulled on Tao Group Nightclub and Restaurant at Palms

Boom. We did not see this one coming.

Seemingly out of the blue, Tao Group and Red Rock Resorts announced they’re bailing on plans for a massive nightclub and restaurant at the off-Strip Palms.

The companies made the announcement in a joint statement. (Las Vegas translation: They have to play nice in public.)

Here’s the entire statement, as there’s not a lot of other information about this sudden change of course at Palms.

“Red Rock Resorts, Inc. and Tao Group announced today that they have jointly agreed to terminate the agreements previously entered into by the parties in connection with the dayclub/nightclub and a restaurant that are scheduled to open around the end of the first quarter in 2019 at the Palms Casino Resort. The terms of the agreements are confidential, but no payment will be required of either party under the agreements.”

Palms

This marquee came down as part of the Palms overhaul, probably in an attempt to make us openly weep.

Crazy, right?

Palms has been trumpeting its partnership with Tao Group for some time now, and a substantial investment has already been made in the nightclub space.

The 29,000-square-foot nightclub will presumably move forward at Palms, just without Tao Group as a partner.

Tao was also slated to bring its Vandal restaurant brand to Palms. The original Vandal has been a trendy smash in New York City, and was highly-anticipated in Las Vegas.

Tao Group

It’s pronounced “dow,” no matter how many people insist upon mispronouncing it.

So, that’s all the hard news about this turn of events. The rest is mostly conjecture, and our usual sources are being tight-lipped about the divorce between Palms and Tao, although it’s fairly obvious it was due to “irreconcilable differences.”

There’s a chance Tao got cold feet. Palms is in the midst of a $620 million makeover, and Tao was going to play a significant part.

But Palms already has a nightclub, Apex Social Club. Sources tell us Apex has struggled since opening in the former Ghost Bar space. Reports are mixed about the hotel’s new steakhouse, Scotch 80 Prime.

Did Tao Group lose faith in the new “From Dust to Gold” direction of Palms? See more.

Palms dust to gold

Wasn’t this the plot of a James Bond movie?

Tao Group, of course, sold a majority interest to Madison Square Garden in 2017 for about $180 million. The Madison Square Garden Company has gained a higher profile in Las Vegas with the development of the Sphere at Venetian.

Is there a chance Las Vegas Sands, owner of the Venetian, wasn’t thrilled with Tao Group (and by extension, it’s Sphere partner) playing in somebody else’s sandbox?

There have also been rumblings related to Tao’s Marquee nightclub at Cosmopolitan (rumors it would close have been denied by Cosmopolitan and Tao reps) and Tao Beach at Venetian (we’ve heard its planned expansion was stalled until news of the Palms deal fell through).

We’ll keep poking around to see what we can dig up about what we’re sure is some juicy drama!

Unknown bar Palms

The new Unknown bar at Palms recently joined our list of offbeat Vegas photo ops.

At the moment, it seems Red Rock Resorts and Palms are in need of a dayclub/nightclub partner.

On the restaurant side, there’s no time to cry over spilled hot pretzel steak tartare, whatever that might be. Bottom line: There are tons of exciting new restaurant offerings in the works at Palms.

New concepts on the way include restaurants from Michael Symon (BBQ), Marc Vetri (Italian) and Bobby Flay (seafood). We’re literally getting hungry typing that sentence.

There’s also a new buffet, AYCE (All You Can Eat), a new cafe (Lucky Penny) and a new noodle bar (Send Noodles).

That’s just for starters. Check out our list of 22 New or Renovated Things Coming to Palms.

Electra Cocktail Club Debuts at Palazzo Las Vegas

There’s a new lounge at Palazzo Las Vegas, Electra Cocktail Club, and our liver remains a somewhat viable organ, so we had to check it out.

Electra Palazzo

We never get tired of filling our eyes with Vegas.

We love new casino lounges. Partially because of the liquor, but mainly because of the marketing.

The news release for Electra calls it “an inventive collision of energy and style.”

The Palazzo’s Web site states, “Magnetic in its appeal, fashionable in its aesthetic and garnished with a dash of the surreal, Electra is where avant-garde cocktail creation challenges the limits of tradition in a kinetically charged environment.”

We quite enjoyed our visit, anyway.

Electra Cocktail Club Palazzo

It’s like the 50-foot woman from that 1950s movie lost her bracelets.

At Electra, you may not experience a “dash of the surreal,” but the vibe is undeniably appealing.

As advertised, the decor features “brass, granite, etched metals and custom wall coverings,” but the real draw is a massive video screen along one wall of the lounge.

The video display (made up of 34 screens) spans 40 feet and boasts 70 million pixels. Yes, we counted, and your skepticism is duly noted.

Electra Palazzo

Electra claims it has the highest resolution video display in Las Vegas. Thankfully for Electra, there are no video resolution police.

The cocktail menu at Electra is extensive, and it’s clear a lot of care has been taken to create drinks that are accessible while being inventive. Many were inspired by classics, nearly all cost in the $18 range.

Yes, Electra is further proof $18 is the new $12 in Strip cocktail lounges. Just go with it, you’re in Las Vegas!

We were delighted to see Electra named a cocktail after us, the Trouble Maker. The Trouble Maker has vodka, sweet vermouth, fresh cucumber, lemon and strawberry.

Electra Palazzo

We’re pretty sure they didn’t intend for the ice to resemble Nevada, but bonus points, anyway.

The drink was quite good, although our experience of it was tainted by the fact Electra only uses paper straws. It’s amazing Las Vegas venues so committed to flavorful drinks would force guests to drink through paper straws, an experience akin to sucking a gourmet meal through the cardboard tubes found inside holiday wrapping paper.

In addition to that annoyance, we were dismayed to see much of our glass was taken up by a large, rectangular piece of ice. “Presentation ice” as we’ve taken to call it, or “flair ice” if you prefer.

Electra lounge Las Vegas

Yes, the ice displaced at least 60% of our $18 drink, but we are a glass-half-full kind of person.

Still, the Trouble Maker was a pleasing cocktail in an environment that conveys a touch of class without being pretentious.

We were surprised and delighted to learn the music volume at Electra was perfect. Which, in our world, means it’s loud enough to give the room energy while allowing for conversation without screaming one’s way to a case of laryngitis.

The DJ deserves a nod as he deftly delivered on the promised “celebration of all genres of rock from old and modern to indie and synth mixed with current hip hop.”

Electra Palazzo DJ

All the very best DJs have an extra set of ears.

Electra Cocktail Club seems a great place to meet up with friends or make new ones, and if you can adjust to the idea cocktails cost $18 a pop, you’re in for a great night out in Vegas.

It’s worth mentioning, by the way, customers at Electra are given a free bottle of water (a $6 value in some of these places) and parking is still free at Venetian and Palazzo.

While you’re at Palazzo, make sure to stop in at another upscale lounge, Rosina.

Rosina lounge Palazzo

Rosina is a village in the Targovishte Municipality of Bulgaria. A little esoteric, don’t you think, Palazzo?

Rosina opened in December 2017, and is part of what’s described as “the trinity that is The Venetian Cocktail Collective.” The third part of the “trinity” is The Dorsey, in the Venetian, that opened in December 2016.

Rosina is more intimate than Electra, and the cocktail menu is much smaller.

Rosina lounge Palazzo

The names you know and love, the hangovers you know and love slightly less.

The decor of Rosina features crystal chandeliers, high-top tables and u-shaped banquettes, perfectly suited for groups of six or eight.

Here, the music is more mellow, with an emphasis on soul, R&B and jazz, clearly intended to serve as counter-programming to Electra.

Rosina Palazzo

Las Vegas does watering holes right.

With the opening of Electra, Palazzo is now brimming with lounge options.

Dress up (or not), choose the lounge that suits your mood and let Las Vegas do what it does best. Namely, help you get lucky.

Actual results may vary.

Electra and Rosina at Palazzo

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Shinya Maru Ramen & Izakaya Opens on Fremont East

A new Asian restaurant has opened on Fremont East, Shinya Maru Ramen & Izakaya, and we fully know what one of those words means.

Ramen.

Because we went to college. Not that you’d know it from our writing, of course.

Shinya Las Vegas

Hard seats, one demerit. Bar seating for solo diners, bonus points.

Shinya is located in the Emergency Arts Building, just around the corner from another new dining option, Eureka.

Shinya is just off Fremont Street, facing El Cortez.

Shinya Las Vegas

This location is easy to miss. The murals, not so much.

“Shinya,” it seems, can mean either “truthful one” or “late at night.”

We would’ve asked the owners which definition applies, but we were too busy stuffing our face with the amazing potstickers.

Shinya Las Vegas

It’s possible these are named “I’ve Been Waiting for a Gyoza Like You.” We were drinking.

Yes, we know potstickers are Chinese and gyoza are Japanese. We were not born yesterday. We also have the Internet.

Shinya’s menu is teeming with cleverly-named appetizers (“Izakaya”) inspired by song titles and bands, from “I Slaw Her Standing There” and “Sgt. Shishito Peppers” to “Belly Jean Slider” and “Poutine on a Show.”

There’s also a Yakitori menu if you like your food simple and served on sticks.

Shinya menu

While we strive to avoid learning things, we now know what Izakaya means.

While ramen is a bit of a tough sell on a 110-degree day, we weren’t going to visit a ramen restaurant without trying it, despite the fact we aren’t particularly a hot liquid person.

We’re pleased to report that the ramen is top-notch, and the fried chicken in our “Let’s Get Physical” fried chicken ramen could could go toe-to-toe with some of the best fried chicken in town.

Shinya Las Vegas ramen

One test of a good restaurant is whether they make you like things you don’t usually eat. Shinya qualifies.

Here’s the rest of the Shinya ramen menu.

Shinya Las Vegas ramen menu

“Ramen” is a Japanese word that comes from two Chinese words meaning “to pull” and “noodles.” Which reminds us to make an appointment for a massage.

Shinya has a full bar, of course, because in Las Vegas it’s the law.

Shinya Las Vegas bar

“Maru” means “circle” in Japanese. Which is what we do when we enter a restaurant with a bar.

The signature cocktail menu only has five options, but they cover a lot of ground. Cocktails include berry sangria, Caribbean sangria, mojito (strawberry, peach and mango), Mai Tai and
margarita.

Shinya cocktail menu

Bonus: All the signature cocktails are less than six bucks.

There are also non-alcoholic beverages, although if you order something on this side of the menu, you’re doing Vegas wrong.

Shinya cocktail menu

You’re not boring, you’re just alternatively interesting.

Desserts come in the form of macaron ice cream. They’re kept in a freezer just inside the entrance so they’ll be on your mind the whole time you’re dining. At just $3.50 a pop, we’ll be back to try all five flavors.

Shinya macaron ice cream

This may require some late night raiding.

The hours at Shinya are all over the place, so keep this blog post handy at all times if you expect to crave Ramen for some reason.

Shinya is open from 11:00 a.m. to midnight, Sunday through Wednesday, and open until 2:00 a.m. Thursday and Friday. Saturdays, it’s 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. There will be a quiz.

Shinya Fremont Street

Just to keep you on your toes.

We love new things, and Shinya Maru Ramen & Izakaya is a new downtown Las Vegas dining option well worth a “maru.”

If you hadn’t skimmed, you’d know what “maru” means. It wouldn’t make sense in that sentence, but you’d know what it means. Let that be a lesson to you.

The Latest From Park MGM, Plus Bad News About the Future of Comped Drinks

It’s been awhile since we popped into the Park MGM. In fact, the last time we visited, it was Monte Carlo.

All that’s changed, because Monte Carlo is no more.

Park MGM

Park MGM might have less character than Monte Carlo, but we love that new hotel-casino smell.

That’s right. Monte Carlo, after two decades, is officially Park MGM, a member of the MGM Resorts family.

The company is investing $550 million in the rebrand.

While the hotel’s name has changed, the resort is still in transition, so we snapped some pics to keep you in the loop about what’s up. No thanks, necessary, although we are a big fan of foot rubs. Just saying.

Park MGM

Yes, you’re suppressing a yawn, but it gets better.

We’re pleased to report Park MGM isn’t in the rough shape we’d heard rumors about. The rebrand of Monte Carlo started in 2016, if you can believe that.

Business at the Strip resort has taken a huge hit because guests encountered extensive construction for months on end, with lots of venues closed and walled off, and word spread.

Now, though, things are starting to take shape at Park MGM, including the unveiling of new offerings like Juniper Cocktail Lounge and Money Line sports bar.

Let’s take a look at Park MGM, back to front.

The rebrand has included the build-out of a new reception area.

Park MGM

Vegas hotels have castle themes, circus themes, Egyptian themes and Venice themes. Park MGM is foliage themed.

Nearby, there’s a new restaurant and bar, Primrose.

Park MGM

Primrose comes from a Scottish word meaning “tree of the moor,” moor or less.

The hotel’s pool area has been completely done over. Now, there are three small pools, with lots of seats and umbrellas and people wishing they’d hit the treadmill a bit more often before their Las Vegas vacation.

Park MGM pools

The pool complex offers a number of ways to spend money, including reserved lounge chairs ($15), daybeds ($75), cabanas and Baja loungers ($15).

There’s a new high limit slots room, where we made sure to donate some of our disposable income.

Park MGM high limit

The high limit table games are awkwardly out on the casino floor nearby, but we suspect they’ll have a new home soon.

A very new addition to Park MGM is its new West Bar. It’s a fairly typical casino bar, with 19 video poker machines.

Park MGM bar

Only about half the seats at West Bar have video poker, presumably because guests aren’t gambling like they used to.

We played some video poker and were given comped (that’s Vegas for “complimentary”) drinks during our play. And, yes, they even poured Captain Morgan spiced rum from a bottle.

Yes, we’re touting the fact a casino bar 1) comps drinks, and 2) pours liquor from a bottle. You’ll see why in a minute.

Making our way through the casino, we got to see the new Juniper Cocktail Lounge. We’re pretty sure this was the same space as Monte Carlo’s Hit Lounge.

Juniper has a pretty swanky design, and features a number of video poker machines at the bar.

Park MGM Juniper Cocktail Lounge

Don’t try to read that sign or you’ll put an eye out.

As you might expect at a lounge called “Juniper,” there are a ton of gin-based cocktails on the menu. Gin gets its main flavor from juniper berries, a reminder how much you can learn while hanging out in Las Vegas cocktail lounges.

Most of the cocktails at Juniper Cocktail Lounge are in the $15-17 range.

We were dismayed to learn no drinks are comped (free) for those who play video poker at the bar. Hey, we warned you in the headline there would be bad news. There’s more to come.

Park MGM Juniper Lounge

We say either have video poker and comp drinks, or don’t have video poker. Otherwise, you’re just being annoying.

Closer to The Strip, there’s the new Money Line Sports Bar & Book.

Money Line Sports Bar & Book has a welcoming layout, with a pool table and a couple of mini bowling lanes.

Park MGM sports bar

When you bet on a “moneyline,” you’re betting on the outright winner of your favorite sportsball game.

The bar, of course, is lined with video poker machines.

As we started to play, we were informed (again), there were no comped drinks for video poker players. Not even a soda.

Park MGM sports bar

The Moneyline sports book and bar was almost entirely empty during our visit. On a Saturday night. Coincidence?

Our earlier dismay turned to annoyance as we realized this isn’t a fluke, but a trend, and not the good kind.

It seems MGM Resorts is taking a page from the Wynn Las Vegas playbook, as Wynn stopped comping drinks at its video poker bars some time ago.

This “trend” is troubling because while Wynn and Encore are just two hotels, MGM Resorts has a slew of them on The Strip. Don’t be surprised if this is a glimpse at things to come.

Denying video poker players comped drinks is getting some customer backlash, according to staff we spoke to, but whether this policy will spread remains to be seen.

Oh, well. We’re not going to let a misguided policy put a damper on our visit. Probably. We’ve got more exploring to do.

Much of the negative buzz about Park MGM has had to do with the temporary entrance from the Las Vegas Strip.

It’s fairly easy to see why.

Park MGM

Not optimal.

Again, these are growing pains, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

Let’s head out front. Who needs comped drinks when we’ve got a security breach to lighten our mood?

Here’s a look at the construction on the Strip side of Park MGM.

Park MGM

Former home of 800 Degrees Pizza, Blvd. Creamery, Yusho Japanese Grill and Sambalatte. Hey, they were all four years old, so time to go!

There are a ton more photos in the gallery, so hang out awhile.

Park MGM Las Vegas

Our first Park MGM security breach. You always remember your first.

This front structure is supposed to be Eataly, a “vibrant marketplace with cafes, to-go counters and sit-down restaurants from Mario Batali, the guy accused of sexual misconduct.”

We added that last part ourself.

This whole Eataly thing is complicated.

MGM Resorts says the $13 million project will continue despite explosive allegations against Mario Batali, but we’re thinking the company is probably looking for another partner for the venue.

Las Vegas Sands (owner of Venetian and Palazzo) recently pulled the plug on three Batali restaurants, despite his company’s claims Batali is no longer involved.

Set to close July 27, 2018, are B&B Ristorante and Otto at Venetian and CarneVino at Palazzo.

Park MGM Eataly

If you miss the Monte Carlo casino, we hear there’s another, less interesting one, in Europe somewhere.

MGM Resorts has been very public about its zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct, so they’re in an impossible position at the moment.

The space is looking pretty good, though, and here’s what it’s supposed to look like when it opens.

Park MGM resort rendering

They’re definitely trying to class up the joint. Just ask the former Diablo’s Cantina.

So, that’s our whirlwind tour of the new Park MGM, a work in progress.

While we’re not thrilled about the comped drink policy at Juniper Cocktail Lounge and Money Line sports bar, there’s a lot to like about Park MGM, including the staff.

Most members of the Monte Carlo staff have made the transition to Park MGM with their friendliness intact. They’re not shy about admitting there’s been some chaos during the rebrand, but they’re starting to see former Monte Carlo customers return.

The reality, though, is those Monte Carlo customers aren’t really the target customer of Park MGM. Park MGM has aspirations to attract younger, more affluent customers.

A prime example is Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar. While we’ve heard it’s good, it’s not really for the value-conscious.

Juniper seems more along the lines of Skyfall at Delano and Clique at Cosmopolitan than fans of the Hit Lounge.

Park MGM

Although it’s not on the sign, Park MGM will have a boutique hotel, NoMad. NoMad needs a better agent.

It’s odd to think of the Las Vegas Strip without Monte Carlo, but Las Vegas is always throwing something new against the wall to see if it will stick.

Enjoy more photos from our recent foray to Park MGM.

Update (7/3/18): We hear Moneyline sports bar and Juniper cocktail lounge have revisited their policies and now comp a limited selection of drinks for video poker players.

Park MGM Progress - June 2018

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