The Struggle is Real at The Linq Promenade: F.A.M.E. Asian Food Court Closes

It was one of the more promising concepts when the Linq shopping promenade opened, but F.A.M.E., the “Chinatown Food Experience,” has shuttered.

F.A.M.E. (Food, Art, Music, Entertainment) struggled from day one, shuffling concepts within what amounted to a mostly-Asian food court.

FAME closed

In the words of Shia LaBeouf, “I am not famous anymore.”

F.A.M.E. boasted eight food offerings, including a Fuku Burger.

The closure is likely to mean the planned next phase of the establishment, an “upscale, seated dining experience with a modern Asian cuisine menu,” won’t be happening. The upstairs restaurant was supposed to have featured “a Tokyo-style robata bar, sushi bar and tempura bar.” Now, not so much. (Of note: Another restaurant at The Linq, Off the Strip, was supposed to expand its operation upstairs, but that’s been put off indefinitely.)

F.A.M.E.’s demise is the latest in a series of red flags going up at The Linq shopping district, indicating the project is struggling in a serious way.

For example, the mall’s Blvd. Cocktail Company, a piano lounge, actually went under. The owner of The Linq, Caesars Entertainment, swooped in to save the establishment in order to keep it from closing.

Blvd. Cocktail Co.

Hanging on, under new management.

A source close to The Linq summed up the situation this way, “Nobody’s making their rent.”

While foot traffic seems to be strong, it appears many guests stroll The Linq but don’t necessarily stop to take advantage of the strong collection of offerings.

Also struggling is the High Roller Ferris wheel. Caesars Entertainment, which is currently going through a high-profile bankruptcy, confessed the wheel has an average ridership of 5,000 people a day. While that sounds like a lot, the company projected ridership of about 11,000 a day.

High Roller

“High Roller Las Vegas, where everybody gets a line pass.”

Other changes at The Linq have happened with little fanfare. Jon Gray, touted as the “mayor” of The Linq, departed for a gig at Nike. Gray was quietly replaced by Tonia Chafetz, formerly the General Manager of Tivoli Village, another troubled shopping center in Las Vegas.

Another significant, but quiet, change at The Linq promenade was the bowing out of management company Caruso Affiliated. Founder and CEO Rick Caruso, also responsible for the
Grove shopping center in L.A., is said to no longer be involved with The Linq. Red flags don’t really get much bigger or redder than that.

Linq mall mural

On the bright side, there seem to be new murals every time you visit The Linq. See more.

The behind-the-scenes challenges facing The Linq promenade fly in the face of what’s been stated publicly, especially in advertorial spinning the facts to trumpet the project’s success. For example, “So far, the promenade seems to be worth the effort. The High Roller pulls in almost 5,000 riders a day.” Truth, but not exactly the whole truth.

Another painful truth is the struggles at The Linq promenade are likely to mean the announced Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips restaurant won’t open. The restaurant from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was supposed to have opened in the spring of 2015, but buzz has trailed off completely and requests for information from Caesars Entertainment go unanswered. Which means Ramsay has been informed of the situation at the Linq promenade and Ramsay is smart enough to know you don’t open a restaurant when the odds are stacked against you.

Here’s the thing, though. The Linq promenade is actually awesome.

The project turned a foul-smelling alley between Flamingo and O’Sheas casino (now The Linq hotel) into an appealing, eclectic destination with distinctive shops and a variety of bars and restaurants. Oh, and the world’s tallest observation wheel.

High Roller Ferris wheel

The High Roller is, in the vernacular of engineering, badass.

Nobody wants to see The Linq fail, or even flounder. So, the next time you’re in the neighborhood, don’t just stroll. Stop and drink or eat or ride that giant wheel. (Skip Chayo, though, they can suck it.) See a show at Brooklyn Bowl, what’s turned out to be one of the best entertainment venues in town. Visit the cupcake ATM (despite the cupcakes being too expensive and not that good). Bump knuckles with Lucky the Leprechaun at O’Sheas.

The tagline for The Linq is actually pretty dead-on: “So much to do, so little time.”

Let’s make some time, because The Linq is the heart of The Strip, and we’ve all got a stake in keeping it beating. Or something.

14 thoughts on “The Struggle is Real at The Linq Promenade: F.A.M.E. Asian Food Court Closes

  1. FYMYAWF

    There sure is a butt-ton of foot traffic in the Linq. They could maybe use some traffic DIRECTION in the place somehow, though, as when you walk through there’s not much incentive to pull you into the various places.

    I’ve walked through many times now (admittedly tipsy) but I’ve only actually stepped into a few of the establishments. The Strip is great at herding traffic the way the resorts want you to go, there doesn’t seem to be much of that in the Linq.

    (The drinks at Blvd. Cocktail Co. are pricey but worth it, by the way).

    Reply
  2. MikeJenkinson

    Some random thoughts:

    1) I really like the Linq area and I actually have grabbed food there.

    2) However, if this “off the strip” area is struggling, is that a bad sign for MGM’s upcoming “park” connecting NYNY to the new MGM Arena? Do Vegas walkers just not want to actually veer off the strip at all?

    3) I’ve done the High Roller twice (once with wife, once with one of our daughters, on 2 separate trips) but that’s about as much as I’ll do it. I’m not surprised the High Roller is struggling because, really, once you do it once, there’s not much incentive to do it again. And the ticket prices are too high. (Although the second time I did it, with my 16-year-old, the attendant gave us the local resident discount for some reason even though we were Canadian and he knew it.) If you want to ride the High Roller, do it now, because I suspect it will be mothballed very soon.

    Reply
  3. Todd

    I’m a huge fan of the Linq and the whole promenade, and have frequented the Yard House, Tilted Kilt, and taken a couple rides on the High Roller. I hope it does well, it’s really nice, and every time I’ve been there it’s seemed super crowded, so I’m surprised to hear it’s struggling, but maybe that’s just what happens when you spend a billion dollars on something. That’s a lot of overhead.

    Reply
  4. Kristi

    We have eaten at Flour and Barley which was good, had some ice cream at Ghiradelli and rode the wheel a few times (comped by the casino) but the prices in the retail shops are outrageous. So no shopping for us

    Reply
  5. Misslaydj

    Flour and Barley pizza was bad!! I love the Linq. Rode it last year and will ride again in July when I come. The juice spot is sooo good and love O’sheas. I wish it the best. I think its a great addition.

    Reply
  6. Vice

    The problem is everything is way over the top expensive. I Imagine the rent must be phenomenal. $23 for a 10 inch pizza at Flour and Barley, $26 Fried Chicken Dinner at Brooklyn Bowl and $35 each for the high roller. Of those, I did the Chicken but won’t return even though I love the concept of Brooklyn Bowl. I had comped High Roller tickets and while it was ok, I would NEVER pay $70 for the two of us to ride. Maybe $20 each but that would be my limit.

    Reply
  7. David Sáenz

    I will say that i was one of the few that thought that the Linq promenade was going to be awesome and although i still agree, there are a few places that i would like to see their prices adjusted slightly and their hours to be a bit more flexible. I’m with Vice who thinks that $26 for fried chicken is just a bit much, even if it’s supposed to be the best fried chicken you’ll ever have… and Tilted Kilt and Yardhouse closing as early as they do? That has to change, at least on the weekends! I’ve been in the area from 2-3am getting ready to continue the night only to find two spots with a great variety of beer are closed. I understand those employees would like to go home too, but this is Vegas we’re supposed to be talking about. There is no cut off time on the alcohol law books, you want to attract more people to your area, offer the place to be open at least a little later than that. Then again, what do i know?

    Reply
  8. LVBigBear

    Chayo was recently purchased by Fine Entertainment (Jonathan Fine)… I had vowed to never go back but I will give Jonathan a few months to fix it and give it another shot… See what you can find out about their plans.

    Reply
  9. William Wingo

    A rough calculation on High Roller ridership: 5000 persons per day if it’s open 15 hours per day, is about 333 persons per hour. It goes around once in thirty minutes, so that’s 167 persons per revolution. There are 28 pods, so that’s just under six persons per pod on average. At the projected ridership of 11,000 per day, it would be just over 13 persons per pod.

    Schedule information from the High Roller Website, http://www.viator.com/tours/Las-Vegas/The-High-Roller-at-The-LINQ/d684-5084LASHIG?pref=204&aid=m7545.

    5000 persons at $30 each is $150,000 gross per day–less any comped or discounted admissions, and out of nine posts here so far, one person was comped and one was discounted. Assuming 85% paid full fare, that’s $127,500. Corresponding figues for 11,000 riders per day are $333,000 and $283,000.

    Reply
    1. Todd

      I seriously doubt 85% pay full fare, I’d guess it’s significantly less than that. I rode free both times, once on a Diamond card, and once because The Flamingo was giving out free rides anytime you hit a suited blackjack. My friend had a whole stack of them. I have no idea what the numbers are, but I bet it’s more like 30-40% are actually paying for their rides.

      Reply
  10. Johnny Van

    If the Linq is struggling, I suspect Ballys’ Grand Bazaar Shops will be a disaster (one could characterize the Linq as a disaster if the ferris wheel is generating less than 50% of its anticipated traffic).

    Reply
    1. Todd

      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. At least the Linq has places to hang out, have drinks, watch games, etc. The Bally’s shops just have a bunch of crummy stores that don’t sell anything anyone wants.

      Reply

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