Category Archives: Las Vegas Shopping

Here’s Your Best Look Yet at the New Wynn Plaza Site

When Wynn Las Vegas announced it would build a new shopping area on The Strip, we sort of ignored it, because shopping. Now, we’ve seen the work-in-progress, and have learned Wynn Plaza could also include new dining and drinking options, so we’re in.

Here’s an exclusive look at the future Wynn Plaza experience.

Wynn Plaza

Yes, our camera probably should’ve been pointing toward Encore Beach Club. Freak.

The idea behind Wynn Plaza is three-fold.

First, Wynn Plaza is intended to make idle space more profitable. Second, it’s designed to give a shopping center across the street, Fashion Show Mall, a little competition. Third, the new two-story structure, which essentially wraps around the Wynn’s self-park garage, will help extend the resort closer to the street. Actually, boulevard, but let’s not get bogged down in details.

Wynn Plaza

You say “backhoe porn” like it’s a bad thing.

From the looks of it, Wynn Plaza will integrate the space formerly occupied by the hotel’s Ferrari dealership, the only one licensed in Nevada. The Ferrari dealership has been at Wynn since 2005.

Wynn Plaza

We’re pretty sure that’s where the Ferraris used to be. Because they certainly aren’t in our garage.

The cost of Wynn Plaza is expected to be about $54 million, or the approximate amount casino mogul Steve Wynn spends on boxer briefs in any given month.

Wynn Plaza

Construction of Wynn Plaza is happening largely out of sight. Until now. Because that’s how we roll.

Wynn Plaza will be about 75,000-square-feet of luxury retail space, because you can never have too much luxury retail space. Wynn Plaza will bring the total amount of retail space at Wynn to more than 173,000-square-feet.

Wynn Plaza

We have no idea what those things are. We are a blog, not a structural engineer.

Wynn Plaza is scheduled to open in 2017 and will feature lots of things you could only afford if your wealthy uncle went into cardiac arrest.

Wynn Plaza is expected to have a skylight rotunda, whatever that might actually be.

Once complete, Wynn Plaza will have sweeping views of a giant dirt lot across Las Vegas Boulevard, called Alon (pronounced “AY-lon,” a French word meaning “resort unlikely to exist thanks to a crackdown on Triads and corrupt Chinese officials”).

Wynn Plaza construction

Clearly, our construction photo fetish is well under control.

Wynn officials have said Wynn Plaza will have “interactive and experiential opportunities,” at least one of which, we assume, will be having a salesperson sneer disdainfully at you like you’re Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman.”

Wynn Plaza construction

Looking toward Fashion Show, the less aspirational shopping mall just across the street.

We’d love to hear your thoughts about Wynn Plaza. Not as it currently exists, of course. It’s piles of dirt. The future Wynn Plaza. Are you intrigued or shopping averse? What would you like to see at Wynn Plaza? By that, of course, we mean what types of bars?

Wynn Plaza construction

Before you build, it must be rototilled.™

Jokes aside, Wynn Las Vegas tends to do things right, and this blog certainly loves it some new, even if only for the design eye candy. Wynn Plaza’s design is said to have been inspired by Avenue Matignon in Paris, named after one of our very favorite Musketeers.

What, you thought we meant that things about “jokes aside”? Do you know this Las Vegas blog at all?

Four, Count ‘Em Four, Shops Call It Quits at Pawn Plaza

To say downtown’s Pawn Plaza is going through a rough patch would be an understatement. A startling four shops have shuttered at Pawn Plaza in just a week’s time.

Pawn Plaza is a shopping complex fashioned from shipping containers, an idea inspired by downtown’s Container Park. Pawn Plaza sits next to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop made famous in TV’s “Pawn Stars.”

Pawn Plaza

It’s like Piet Mondrian humped a container ship. Or something.

It seems Pawn Plaza is going through the same kind of growing pains Container Park experienced, just all at once.

Here’s a rundown of the casualties.

Smoke’s Poutinerie

The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop gets a huge number of Canadian visitors, so it made sense to have an eatery featuring this popular Canadian dish. No such luck. Smoke’s Poutinerie was the first of the four shops to close.

Pawn Plaza

We quite enjoyed whatever it was we ate here.

Inna Gadda di Pizza

The closing of Inna Gadda di Pizza came as a surprise because of the restaurant’s pedigree. The shop was run by some of the same folks who opened the popular Pizzeria at Cosmopolitan (often called “Secret Pizza”). The pizza was okay, but given the choice between Inna Gadda di Pizza and the excellent Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ, it was no contest.

Inna Gadda di Pizza

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” translates roughly as “The Garden of Life,” further proof you learn a metric ass-ton of useless stuff writing a blog.

Pawn Donut and Coffee Shop

The Pawn Donut and Coffee Shop was managed by the company behind Inna Gadda di Pizza. The doughnuts were solid and the prices were good. It’s likely this small shop could hold its own, but when Inna Gadda di Pizza pulled up stakes, it was a package deal.

Pawn Donut and Coffee

“Folks, we’re closing the shop, so we have to move everything out.” “All right, I’ll get a shoe box.”

Las Vegas Flip Flops

It’s a shock a flip flop store would fail given the huge public demand for, you know, flip flops.

Pawn Plaza Flip Flops

You will be missed, Las Vegas Flip Flops, by both of your loyal customers.

Thanks to Eater Vegas and Las Vegas Advisor for sharing news of the shuttered shops.

So, what’s the story at Pawn Plaza?

It’s been reported businesses at Pawn Plaza have been struggling overall, with disgruntled shopkeepers claiming the shopping center’s failing to meet their expectations.

Pawn Plaza’s PR team says, rightly, it’s the nature of the business that some stores will survive, others won’t.

Gold and Silver Pawn

The Gold & Silver Pawn shop continues to draw throngs. Just walk over to Pawn Plaza and buy something, people. It’s 14 feet away.

Pawn Plaza says it looks forward to announcing new tenants soon. Then again, what else are they going to say?

Is Pawn Plaza worth a stop? Of course! Did we mention Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ? It has a bar. ‘Nuff said. Bonus: “Pawn Stars” star Rick Harrison even tends bar there most Friday and Saturday nights.

Oh, and try Rita’s Italian Ice and Custard. The frozen custard is amazing, but just make sure it’s custard you’re getting because of the occasional egg shortages. It’s a thing.

Rita's Italian Ice custard

First, the custard is spectacular. Second, our future as a hand model is assured.

We’re rooting for Pawn Plaza to find a new batch of shops to fill out its roster. Pawn Plaza is a colorful addition to a blighted part of downtown. It’s just a matter of finding the right mix of shops and not relying solely on pawn shop visitors to support them.

And more bars couldn’t hurt.

15 New Things Happening at Linq Promenade Mall

The Park, a mid-Strip restaurant row from MGM Resorts, has been in the spotlight a lot lately. Its four new restaurants are a perfect complement to the new T-Mobile Arena and upcoming Park Theater. Read more.

But the Linq promenade from Caesars Entertainment isn’t going down without a fight.

The Linq promenade, a dining and entertainment mall located between the Flamingo and Linq hotels, is in the throes of a bona fide renaissance, including a slew of intriguing new diversions, edible and otherwise. Even the under-performing High Roller observation wheel is showing
signs of new life!

It’s time to revisit the Linq promenade, end-to-end, to see what’s new and what’s in the works.

1. Center Strip Box Office

This giant box office is adorned with any number of video screens and it quite the eye-catching new addition to the Linq mall. We’re not sure which tickets you can purchase here, but the most prominently-displayed shows are those at Caesars Entertainment resorts. One word of caution:
You may see the word “Concierge,” but beware. In recent years, concierge services are often thinly-disguised ticket hawkers pushing shows that aren’t the best in quality, but rather those that pay the largest commissions. See more of the concierge outsourcing ugliness.

Linq promenade

“Caveat emptor,” which is Latin for “keep one hand on your wallet.”

2. Amorino Gelato

A new gelato shop is under construction, taking a spot previously used by a retail shop. This chain got its start in Paris, and has a lot of promise.

Linq promenade gelato

This blog loves it some gelato.

3. Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips

This long-awaited new fish and chips shop is finally being built and is expected to open in fall 2016. The space was formerly a Purple Zebra slushy drink store. No, Chef Ramsay won’t be making your fish and chips personally, but he’ll show up occasionally. It’s the law.

Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips

Don’t freak out. Purple Zebra slushy drinks are still available inside the Linq hotel.

4. Shadow Dancers at O’Sheas

This is our most exciting exclusive in ages. The exterior of O’Sheas at the Linq hotel now features shadow dancers! Fans of the previous incarnation of O’Sheas (a self-contained casino rather than a casino within a casino) will recall O’Sheas had shadow dancers of its own, in
the windows facing Las Vegas Boulevard. These aren’t quite as R-rated (they seem to be animated, as opposed to using human models), but they’re still worth a peek.

Linq promenade shadow dancers

We love this titillating nod to the original O’Sheas!

Oh, all right, here’s some video. Freak.

5. Kitson’s Replacement

It was quite a blow to the Linq promenade when one of its anchor retail shops, Kitson, closed. The Kitson sign hasn’t come down, but there’s a new store in the space. It’s a giant gift shop, not quite as quirky as Kitson, but a seamless replacement in a prominent spot in the mall.

Linq mall

We asked what the name of the Kitson replacement is, but an employee said it doesn’t have one. Let’s get on that.

6. Amazon Locker

We’re not entirely sure what an Amazon Locker is, but the Linq promenade has one. The Internet says Amazon Lockers are a way for Amazon customers to get their purchases without having them shipped to a home or business address. While this seems useful, we’d rather make
some snarky comment about how the whole thing reeks of “How do I get sex toys in Las Vegas without going to a creepy adult store or packing them in my suitcase?”

Linq Amazon Locker

Oh, great, something new for us to be stuffed into.

7. Virgil’s Real Barbecue

We had such high hopes for the F.A.M.E. Asian market, but it took a nosedive. Virgil’s Real Barbecue will soon take its place. Virgil’s comes from the folks behind Carmine’s, a great Italian place at the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Again, this holds promise.

Linq Virgil's Real Barbecue

Virgil’s is expected to open in fall 2016, so you know where you’ll find our face, slathered with BBQ sauce, right around that time.

8. In-N-Out

When we broke the news In-N-Out was coming to the Linq promenade, little did we know it would be one of our biggest stories of 2015. Now, construction is under way, and we’re predicting this newest In-N-Out location will provide a much-needed boost to the Linq mall. We feel a little badly for its neighbor, Flour & Barley, but in Vegas, only the strong survive.

Linq In-N-Out

Expect lines. Expect friendly service. Expect Bible verses on the bottom of the drink cups. We’re eating there, anyway.

9. Exotic Car Rental

We didn’t see that coming. Apparently, you can now rent exotic cars, including Lamborghinis, at the Linq promenade. A sign says prices start at $399, for four hours. There’s even an exotic car on display on the mall.

Linq exotic car rental

Sort of a bummer for Governors.

10. Urban Turban

Boom, another exclusive, and that’s the story we’re sticking to. A popular Indian restaurant in Las Vegas, Urban Turban, will soon open a kiosk at the Linq promenade. The stand will offer a slimmed-down version of the restaurant’s menu, including favorites like lamb, butter chicken, tandoori chicken and others.

Linq Urban Turban

We may break stories, but we don’t break details. You’ll figure it out.

11. Murals

The Linq mall has made good on its promise to update its wall-sized murals from time to time. There’s a whole new batch of murals from local artists. They make a great free photo op for the tourists.

Linq murals

Just in time for “Sharknado 4,” three minutes of which took place in Las Vegas.

12. Lines at the High Roller

One of the most surprising new things at the Linq promenade has to be, wait for it, lines at the High Roller observation wheel. The world’s tallest observation wheel has struggled with ridership numbers since it opened, but Caesars Entertainment continues to aggressively promote it, and it appears those efforts may be bearing fruit. While the wheel’s operators won’t admit it, we credit a truly strange story for raising awareness about the High Roller internationally. Hey, whatever works.

Linq High Roller line

You go, world’s largest observation wheel that people definitely should not have sex on.

13. Photo & Go

Photo & Go isn’t completely new, but we’ll be damned if we’re going to do a listicle with just 14 things on it, thank you very much O.C.D. Photo & Go originally opened in a different location in the Linq promenade as the Polaroid Fotobar. Photo & Go is a downsized version of the store, with a focus on allowing customers to print photos from their smartphones onto a variety of tsotchkes.

Linq Photos & Go

If casinos want to appeal to Millennials, they should invent a slot machine that also prints photos from smartphones onto tsotchkes. You’re welcome.

14. C & E Studio

It’s some kind of art gallery, with a selection of upwards of a dozen “urban art pieces” we probably can’t afford. Let’s just say you shouldn’t get too emotionally attached to this shop.

Linq art gallery

The gallery hosts street artists out front. Spraycan art is surprisingly popular in Las Vegas, with a typical piece selling for $40-50.

15. Canter’s Deli

Last but not least, it’s Canter’s! Yes, yes, we broke the story of Canter’s coming to the Linq promenade last year, too, but not everything has to be about us. Canter’s will take up residence in what was previously a part of the High Roller ticket office. The opening date of Canter’s has been pushed back a time or two, but with everything going on at the Linq promenade, we have high hopes it will open soon.

Linq Canter's Deli

Canter’s Deli has a long and impressive history we didn’t have time to look up.

That’s it! Everything you need to know about what’s happening at the Linq promenade and probably more.

Given the bumpy history of this very pleasant pedestrian mall, we love all the fresh activity and look forward to trying the plethora of new offerings. And not just because we’ve been waiting two years to use the word “plethora” in a blog post. Probably.

Linq Promenade Update

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Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 14: Pawn Plaza Polka and Lucky Dragon WTF

In this thrilling last episode of Season One of the Vital Vegas Podcast, we stroll the length and breadth of downtown’s Pawn Plaza.

Pawn Plaza is the brainchild of Rick Harrison, the star of reality juggernaut, “Pawn Stars.” The Container Park-inspired collection has restaurants, shops and a bar, and is well worth a stop, especially because of the bar thing. The other parts a nice, too.

Pawn Plaza

Pawn Plaza is the first place we ever had poutine. Think loaded potato skins, but more popular with Canadians.

Also in this episode, we blow through “15 Crazy-Ass Things in a Las Vegas Weekly Story With Andrew Fonfa, CEO of the Financially-Beleaguered Lucky Dragon Resort.” Here’s the story in question.

Because we’re the podcast that goes the extra mile, we also talk about how we became 32% Irish this week. No, really.

Take a listen, already.

Vital Vegas Podcast, Episode 4: Talking the Talk

Shockingly, there’s a fourth episode of the Vital Vegas Podcast. We did not see that coming.

In this week’s episode, we cover a lot of ground.

There’s an interview with comedian and juggler Jeff Civillico. The Flamingo headliner has a new TV show about Las Vegas, and the show is produced in a shipping container that sits on a water fountain at Linq promenade.

Las Vegas Good News

“Las Vegas Good News” host Jeff Civillico interviews a Brooklyn Bowl performer whose name we would convey if we were a note-taking type person.

Visit the Las Vegas Good News Web site, watch for the show in your hotel room or on Channel 13 (the ABC affiliate in Las Vegas) and make sure to keep an eye on Chelsea Phillips-Reid, one of Civillico’s bevy of co-hosts. Her pre-taped, “Daily Show”-style interview (back when “Daily Show” was funny) with a Gilley’s chef was a stand-out on the episode we attended.

We also chat with Seth Debowy, an entrepreneur whose company, Vegas Felt Co., makes clothing from salvaged casino table felt. Debowy provides an insider’s look into the process of developing his line of collectible clothing, and shares a few felt secrets, too.

For example, the vast majority of casino tables don’t actually use felt. We also learned if a high roller requests it, casinos will give them the table felt after their play. And also possibly cocktail servers.

Vegas Felt Co.

Take little piece of your favorite casino table game home with you.

The clothing company has come a long way since we first checked in. Check out the company’s official Vegas Felt site for more information.

Also on the show, we give our imbicilic take on the latest Las Vegas news, share some Las Vegas history (Barbary Coast closed this week back in 2007, now it’s the Cromwell) and drop the usual exclusives, including the fact Cosmopolitan resort is on the precipice of rolling out a drink voucher system at all its casino bars.

Barbary Coast security

Like many classic Vegas casinos, Barbary Coast had catwalks where security could peer down on tables to watch for cheats. This rare pic shows the peep holes.

Don’t miss some great listener questions: What’s the most trouble we’ve gotten into for a security breach? What’s a recommended panty-dropper cocktail? What are our five favorite video poker bars? All that and much, much less.

Oh, in the spirit of Jimmy Kimmel’s popular “Mean Tweets” segment, we read mean reviews of our podcast. Out loud. Somebody’s got to do it.

This iTunes review is a definite highlight: “End this abortion of a show before you lose all credibility.” Honestly, that’s an insult to abortions.

Take a listen. You can find all the episodes hereSubscribe at iTunes, and leave a review. Drop us a line to ask a question or tell us to STFU. You can also Tweet to @VitalVegas.

The Vital Vegas Podcast. It’s all the things you’ve come to loathe about this Las Vegas blog, but with more annoying ice-clinking.

Progress Report: Las Vegas Arena, The Park and Monte Carlo Theater

There’s a dizzying number of new things coming to the space between New York-New York and Monte Carlo, so we thought it about time to share some photos, video and a few words to keep those things from slapping into each other.

First up, here’s a look at the current state of the Las Vegas Arena, also called the T-Mobile Arena. This 20,000-seat gem is going to be a magnet for sports and concerts, and it looks like a million bucks.

Las Vegas Arena

Actually, the Las Vegas Arena looks like $375 million bucks, but who’s counting?

The arena’s seats have been installed, a far cry from just a few months ago when we popped in to take another metric ass-ton of photos.

Now, a mesh video screen is being installed on the arena’s eastern face.

Las Vegas Arena video mesh

That one dude, though.

Here’s a closer look at both the mesh installation and the dude.

Las Vegas Arena

Hero move.

We caught the first test of the Las Vegas Arena’s video screen at night, and it was very what you might call “T-Mobile magenta.”

T-Mobile, of course, snagged naming rights to the arena. We just like the sound of Las Vegas Arena better.

Las Vegas Arena

Motion graphic designer’s like, “Done!”

The Las Vegas Arena opens April 6, 2016, with a show by The Killers as a kick-off.

Here’s a peek behind the arena.

Las Vegas Arena

At this point, you may be obsessing over a construction site a tad too much. Somebody needed to say it.

Note that there’s a new ramp jutting out of the New York-New York parking lot (at left) to help ease traffic congestion.

There’s another bridge connecting the parking garage and the arena.

Las Vegas Arena

You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to scaffold ’em.

Outside the Las Vegas Arena, concrete is being poured.

The Park Las Vegas

We trust these wooden thingys are where concrete is being poured. For all you know, they could be called “thingys,” so don’t get snippy.

The Park is beginning to look more like a park.

The Park, of course, is a pedestrian promenade that runs from Las Vegas Boulevard to the arena.

The Park could very well mark the return of promenading, once popular with square dancers. Oh, like you’re reading all this gibberish, anyway. Just look at the pictures.

The Park Las Vegas

MGM Resorts has invested a lot of time and money creating a diverse collection of desert-adaptive plants people will soon stroll right by on their way to the hooch.

Seriously, though, MGM Resorts has spent a lot of time thinking about all this.

The Park will have “breathtaking monumental shade structures, theatrical lighting, dynamic water features and meta-quartzite stone sourced from a local quarry.”

The Park promenade

How we’ve managed to enjoy the Las Vegas Strip prior to it having some meta-quartzite stone, we’ll never know.

The Park will be lined not only with trees and shade structures (more on those in a minute), but also shops and restaurants and bars, especially bars.

The Park

The Park will have a gourmet waffle restaurant, Bruxie, a sushi restaurant, Sake Rok, a beer garden and other dining and drinking options.

The Park will also boast a Robert Mondavi Jr. Wine Experience, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row and Cuba Libre, a Havana-style restaurant and bar.

Check out our photo gallery below for more photos of the storefronts.

Before we move on, MGM Resorts has finally gotten around to confirming some news we reported exclusively a few weeks ago. A 40-foot-tall naked woman will soon be erected in The Park. The sculpture is called Bliss Dance, and “erected” is right. Read more.

Bliss Dance Las Vegas

That’s a palm tree. She’s not European.

The Bliss Dance sculpture is the work of artist Marco Cochrane and was originally created for the Burning Man Festival. It weighs about 7,500 pounds, took 10,000 hours to build and will be lit up by 3,000 LED lights.

The Bliss Dance statue will be installed at The Park on Feb. 29, 2016, making future anniversaries of the installation few and far between.

Now, about those shade structures. They don’t appear to have an official name, but they’re a distinctive element of The Park.

The ear trumpet structures were built by IHC Studio Metalix in the Netherlands, a ship-building company. Each structure took an astonishing 2,000 hours to complete. Naps and smoke breaks are apparently very popular in the Netherlands.

The Park Las Vegas

The 16 flower-inspired colander cones range from 55 feet to 75 feet in height. Hey, one of these names is going to stick, and we’d prefer it be ours.

Each of the botanical bugles has about 1,200 holes, which are intended to cast patterns on the ground.

Shade is going to become a critical part of The Park experience, especially given the fact Las Vegas becomes a massive kiln during the summer months (typically, March 1 through November 30). Which is why outdoor spaces are a relatively recent phenomenon in Las Vegas. Because things tend to shrivel up and blow away there. The good folks at MGM Resorts haven’t talked about that too much in their news releases, for some reason.

That said, the holey tulips are striking, and truly come to life at night. Take a look.

The Park shade

The average weight of each structure is between 12 and 20 metric tons, depending upon where it had lunch.

At night, the structures will glow, and the colors will change on the quarter hour, commonly known as “every 15 minutes,” or about the time it takes this blog to have sex 15 times.

The Park Las Vegas

While already lovely, the thousands of LEDs that will illuminate the structures haven’t even been installed yet!

These impressive structures should be a popular new photo op on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Park is set to open April 4, 2016, a couple of days before the Las Vegas Arena debuts.

Here’s a little video to help give you an idea of where everything is. Please note the large steel structure attached to the side of Monte Carlo. We’ll be talking about that next.

While much of the focus has been on the arena and The Park, quick work is being made of a new 5,000-seat theater at Monte Carlo.

Monte Carlo Theater

The new Monte Carlo theater is about the size to give The Colosseum at Caesars and Axis Theater at Planet Hollywood a run for their money.

Here’s another look at the Monte Carlo theater (whose existence was first reported in this very blog, of course), although it won’t be called the Monte Carlo theater when it opens in late 2016. Monte Carlo is getting a new name, so the theater will follow suit.

Monte Carlo Theater

Monte Carlo’s new theater necessitated Blue Man Group getting the boot to Luxor, which necessitated Jabbawockeez getting the boot to MGM Grand. Never a dull moment in Vegas.

Monte Carlo’s new name remains a delicious Las Vegas mystery.

Please feel free to dive headlong into our gratuitous, showboaty photo gallery of pics from the Las Vegas Arena, The Park and Monte Carlo theater. We can’t wait to see our first shows at the arena and Monte Carlo theater, and are truly looking forward to promenading at The Park in the shade of giant, honeycombed cactus blossoms. Or whatever.

Arena, Park and Monte Carlo Theater Update

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