Category Archives: Las Vegas

Mon Ami Gabi Takes a Poke at Paid Parking

How far things have come in Las Vegas.

Paid parking is now the norm, and at least one Strip restaurant is attempting to use customer frustration about the “new normal” as a marketing tool.

Mon Ami Gabi, a popular restaurant at Paris Las Vegas, is openly offering a deal to help customers offset their parking fees.

Mon Ami Gabi

Las Vegas restaurants listen to their customers, and many are saying a sentence with just three letters, “WTF?” Sometimes followed by “bro.”

Mon Ami Gabi is offering guests $20 off their bill (with a $40 minimum purchase).

It’s a fairly standard discount, but the marketing hook is what’s new in Las Vegas.

While casinos are doing great business, we’ve heard anecdotally restaurants, shows and retail stores inside casino resorts have taken a hit due to the roll-out of paid parking.

There are still a few Las Vegas casinos where parking is free, but the majority aren’t on the Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas Monopoly

It would be funnier if it were inaccurate.

These Strip casinos still have free parking: Tropicana, Planet Hollywood, Treasure Island, Venetian and Palazzo, Casino Royale, Circus Circus, SLS Las Vegas and Stratosphere.

Our favorite way to bypass parking fees is to get the MGM Resorts credit card. The M Life Rewards Master Card bumps players up to a loyalty club tier where parking is free.

Caesars Entertainment’s credit card does the same thing, but requires a $5,000 a year spend on the card, so they can suck our knackers, a word we didn’t know was a euphemism for “testicles” until four minutes ago.

While parking fees have bolstered the bottom line of Las Vegas casinos, the practice has left a bad taste in the mouth of many visitors. Expect more promotions along the lines of Mon Ami Gabi’s, and similar offers from the casinos themselves, which will be more than a little awkard.

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Squeeze Juice Bar Closes at Linq Promenade

Squeeze Juice Bar at Linq promenade, which opened in 2014, has closed.

Squeeze specialized in fresh-squeezed juices and smoothies as well as mimosas, sangria, margaritas, mojitos.

Squeeze Las Vegas

Apparently, the fruit-based bar didn’t have enough appeal.

We have no idea if the liquor-infused libations at Squeeze were actually healthier than their non-fresh counterparts, but we know a number of people who quite enjoyed the place.

The Watermelon Margaritas were particularly beloved.

Squeeze Juice Bar

We hope you find another gig soon, juice guy.

Reasons for the closure of Squeeze Juice Bar haven’t been made public, but the general rule is: Successful things don’t close in Las Vegas.

And, yes, that rule even applies to Britney Spears.

It’s unknown what will replace Squeeze Juice Bar, but the space is in a prime location in the Linq promenade. It’s the first thing guests see as they enter the shopping mall from Las Vegas Blvd.

Thanks to Ryan H. on the Twitters for the tip on the closure of Squeeze.

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Mint Tavern Takes Inspiration from Classic Casino and It’s Glorious

A new tavern just off The Strip is turning heads with its signage, a throwback to earlier times in Las Vegas.

The venue’s sign was inspired by a classic casino, The Mint.

Mint Tavern Las Vegas

You sort of can’t miss it.

The Mint opened in downtown Las Vegas in 1957.

In 1988, the casino closed and became part of Binion’s. Guests visiting Binion’s will note a slope in the casino floor, an indication of where Binion’s ended and The Mint began.

Mint Tavern Las Vegas

Did we go back to get a photo during daylight hours, too? You betcha.

The Mint Tavern sits in an unassuming strip mall that features the Golden Steer steakhouse, just west of the ill-fated Lucky Dragon.

The venue was formerly called Red Label Bar & Lounge.

Here’s a look at the original Mint casino.

Mint casino

We want to lick you like a stripper pole. Which, upon reflection, might not be particularly wise, but urges are urges.

The Mint cocktail lounge on Sahara is still a work-in-progress, as evidenced by a sign outside.

Mint Tavern Las Vegas

Winning.

The bar has about a dozen video poker machines, and not much else at the moment. That includes (gasp!) no Captain Morgan.

Given the retro cool of the sign outside, though, we’re willing to overlook that transgression for now.

Mint Tavern Las Vegas

In 1971, Hunter S. Thompson stayed at The Mint hotel during his first visit to Vegas, the same trip depicted in his novel, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

The Mint’s original, distinctive sign was created by someone with whom Las Vegas fans are very familiar: Betty Willis.

Willis is also the designer of the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas” sign.

Mint Lounge

When The Mint was a thing, it boasted three miles of neon tubing. This sign has a tad less.

Perhaps the best-known story about The Mint involved Lee Marvin. Marvin stayed at the hotel in 1966 during the shooting of “The Professionals” (a Western). The actor got hammered and started shooting arrows at the nearby Vegas Vic sign, claiming his “Howdy Podner!” greeting was making too much noise.

Vegas Vic spoke again in the 1980s, but then was silenced for good.

Mint Lounge

The star atop the sign at the original Mint was 16 feet tall and could be seen 30 miles away.

Kudos to Mint Tavern for creating such a lovely homage to a beloved part of Las Vegas history.

We’re pretty sure Binion’s owns the Mint trademark, but hopefully the new sign won’t cause a legal kerfuffle.

The Mint Tavern’s sign is sure to become a must-see photo op for Las Vegas devotees.

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How to Tell It’s Winter in Las Vegas

When temperatures hit bone-chilling winter lows in Las Vegas, it’s easy to tell.

Here’s a photo taken during our blizzard conditions expected to continue through mid-January .

Winter showgirl

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

The cold snap has seen temps dip below 70-degrees in some parts of Las Vegas, but it feels even colder if you figure in the wind chill factor.

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Lucky Dragon Closure Shakes Loose SLS Las Vegas Sale

As we’ve reported on the Twitters, the sale of SLS Las Vegas to its announced buyer, Alex Meruelo and his Meruelo Group, recently seemed very much stalled.

Now, all that’s changed.

A source with knowledge of the SLS sale says news of the closure of Lucky Dragon’s casino and restaurants caused an immediate change of course in the negotiations, with the seller (Stockbridge Capital Partners) suddenly highly motivated to meet Meruelo’s demands and seal the deal.

It’s expected Meruelo Group will take over SLS Las Vegas in late Feb. 2018.

SLS 3-D legs

Let’s hope Meruelo Group got this awesome video display as part of the deal.

It seems Alex Meruelo is a non-nonsense negotiator, and once he and his team got into the specifics of the physical condition of SLS and its finances, they pushed for more favorable terms for the sale.

Initially, Stockbridge dug in, and Meruelo’s team pulled the plug on scheduled meetings, bringing the negotiations to a screeching halt.

Out of the sad news Lucky Dragon would close its casino came a renewed interest in pushing forward with the sale. Essentially, Stockbridge caved. (Don’t expect to see the word “caved” in the news release.)

While no sale price has been floated, we suspect Alex Meruelo got a solid value, and he’ll have ample resources to give the resort (formerly the Sahara) an overhaul, including a rebrand.

SLS Las Vegas

Curious what these SLS monkey vests will go for on eBay.

We trust the deal will include a happy ending for 60 Chinese investors who recently filed a lawsuit because SLS Las Vegas has never made a profit. (The casino has consistently made about 50% of original estimates. Translation: Welcome to the Big Hurt.)

At the time of the lawsuit, Stockbridge said it didn’t think the lawsuit would deter the sale, and they were apparently correct.

SLS chandelier

If there’s a garage sale, dibs on this SLS chandelier made from the Sahara’s door handles.

According to insiders, the ownership transition is likely to involve another personnel “purge.”

Another fascinating element of this sale is how it plays into the boom taking place on the north end of The Strip, a burst of activity that includes the start of construction of Wynn Paradise Park, actual progress at Resorts World, the sale of Fontainebleau and the Alon site, an approved Las Vegas Convention Center expansion and another development about to get a boost.

We hear project next door to SLS, All Net Resort and Arena, is going to get a surprising new (wait for it) cheerleader: Alex Meruelo.

All Net Arena

All Net Arena’s ample supply of nothing could turn out to be a good deal of something.

Meruelo is expected to be a vocal proponent of All Net Resort and Arena, as it could become a draw along the lines of T-Mobile Arena, including the potential of housing (wait for it) an NBA team.

The tide is rising on the north Strip, and nobody wants to be the guy in a dingy. Or something.

Here’s us talking about all this on KLAS, because you can never have too much us.

While we feel for the employees of Lucky Dragon (they were informed of their termination when they showed up for work on the morning of Jan. 4, 2018), the demise of the Asian-themed casino has sparked intriguing new possibilities in a success-challenged neighborhood.

Expect more news about the sale of SLS Las Vegas through official (yawn) channels soon.

Update (1/7/17): On the heels of our story, Meruelo Group is now featuring SLS Las Vegas on its Web site.

Meruelo Group SLS

Boom.

More to come!

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Lucky Dragon Abruptly Closes Casino and Restaurants

The struggling Lucky Dragon resort has closed its casino and restaurants.

We were the first to report Lucky Dragon was recently put up for sale, and while the resort’s hotel continues to take reservations, entrances to the casino have “Casino Temporarily Closed” signs.

Lucky Dragon closed

“Temporarily” sounds a little optimistic at this point.

Lucky Dragon’s casino and restaurants closed on Jan. 4, 2018.

Lucky Dragon has had a tumultuous history, including ongoing questions about whether the Asian-themed, boutique resort would be financed or completed.

Lucky Dragon

Even a massive dragon couldn’t change Lucky Dragon’s fortune.

Lucky Dragon officially¬†opened Dec. 3, 2016, thanks in great part to EB-5 financing. With EB-5 financing, investors (typically from Asia) contribute funds to projects and get green cards in return. In the case of Lucky Dragon, those investors will henceforth be referred to as “the monumentally screwed.”

Here’s a statement from Lucky Dragon.

Lucky Dragon closed

Every time a Las Vegas casino closes, an showgirl loses her tassels.

Optimism for the win!

Despite a strong opening, Lucky Dragon failed to attract its intended customers (including snagging local Asian customers who frequent casinos like Gold Coast and Palace Station), and has made a number of changes to its restaurant offerings.

Lucky Dragon

Normally, this would provide some consolition, but not so much.

Lucky Dragon’s challenging location, on Sahara, just off The Strip, near the Bonanza Gift Shop and SLS Las Vegas, made the resort an long shot, but sometimes in Vegas those pay off.

A Lucky Dragon insider says wild swings in baccarat were major factor in the closure of the casino. Whales (however few) would win big, then leave for bigger resorts on The Strip with more amenities. Casinos obviously rely on guests staying on-site for a chance to win some back.

Lucky Dragon

Remember, Las Vegas was built on miracles. We hope that’s what the future holds for Lucky Dragon.

We were rooting for Lucky Dragon, but haven’t visited in some time, despite the great rooms (we were quoted a rate of $45 for early February), welcoming casino and top-notch (although limited) cuisine.

We’ve heard Lucky Dragon would need at least $90 million from a buyer to cover its first and second (EB-5) tier investors.

It’s unknown what’s next for Lucky Dragon, but here’s hoping employees find other options as the resort tries to change its luck.

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