Category Archives: Las Vegas

Front Yard at Ellis Island Is Worth the Wait

It’s taken a minute, but Front Yard at Ellis Island is ready for its debut. The new restaurant and bar opens Dec. 6, 2019.

Here’s a first look inside. Although, if you follow us on Twitter, it’s a second look inside, but let’s not get bogged down by details.

Ellis Island Front Yard

You know we like a place if we like it even when sports are on.

The Front Yard was announced all the way back in July 2017 and broke ground in April 2018.

We’re pleased to report it was worth the wait, as Ellis Island’s new venue offers top-notch food, ample booze and great values. So, it’s pretty much Ellis Island, expanded.

You sort of can’t miss the Front Yard. First, it’s in front of Ellis Island. Second, the exterior of the
Front Yard constantly changes colors, a clever marketing tool sure to catch the eye of drivers-by.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Ellis Island just got 400% more fleek or whatever the kids are calling it now.

The Front Yard is a two-story affair described as an “outdoor dining, drinking and entertainment venue.” It’s a temperature controlled structure with a fabric roof and capacity of about 300 people.

Front Yard boasts two bars (one with 15 video poker machines) and approximately 4,700 televisions.

One of the TVs is roughly the size of Lancaster, Michigan and nearly blinded us when hockey was on the screen.

A cocktail or three helped us recover. The Welcome to Jamrock cocktail features Bacardi Silver rum, Malibu rum, melon liqueur, pineapple and cranberry.

Front Yard Ellis Island

These are better by the half dozen.

The signature cocktails at Front Yard will run $8-12, with big-ass shared drinks (for 2-3 people) a bit more. For context, a Captain and diet in the casino is around $5, a freakish anomaly for a casino on or near The Strip.

The food at Front Yard continues the Ellis Island tradition of hearty, approachable, old-school offerings including bar food, sandwiches and burgers.

Nothing fancy, everything satisfying. Yes, Ellis Island, feel free to put that in your advertising.

We dove headlong into the chicken wings appetizer.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Fun fact: The average American eats 90 chicken wings a year. Not so “fun” for chickens, probably, but don’t be a buzzkill.

The Front Yard burger was awesome, too, and bacon fanatics will not be disappointed.

Front Yard burger

Ellis Island’s burger game is strong.

As for the food prices, still being finalized, we’re talking $6-10 for appetizers, $16-20 for main courses, with flatbreads (that’s pizza to us regular folk) in the $12-15 range.

Ellis Island is known for its beer, much of which is brewed on the premises.

While we are not a beer person, we know a value when we see it. During our visit, prices weren’t available, but if the cost of beer inside the casino is any indication (in the $2 range for a massive glass), beer lovers are in for a treat.

And speaking of the casino, Ellis Island continues to offer some of the best gambling near The Strip, and there’s easy access to and from the Front Yard.

Oh, and there’s free parking.

Ellis Island Front Yard

Hit the second floor so you can say you did a stair workout in Vegas.

You know we got a panorama of the second floor, so check it out.

Our love of Ellis Island is fairly obvious, due in no small part to the above-mentioned values, but also the absolutely charming family behind Ellis Island. The Ellis family, in case that wasn’t clear.

A family-owned casino is a rare breed and Ellis Island’s unpretentious vibe, and commitment to great fun at a great price, make it a Las Vegas must-visit in our book.

For the record, Ellis Island is a block east of The Strip, just off Flamingo on Koval Lane.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Front Yard at Ellis Island is our new favorite hang.

We’re excited about the long-awaited opening of the Front Yard and Ellis Island has a winner on its hands. Be strong, liver, be strong.

Updated (11/29/19): We went back to Front Yard and the restaurant is officially open. We got a look at the menu, and you can click here for the Front Yard food menu and drink and dessert menu. Prices may change, so don’t get emotionally attached.

Front Yard Ellis Island menu

Please don’t try and read this, it’s for illustrative purposes only. Click on the links.

We also discovered another surprise at Front Yard. The restaurant’s sound system is connected to the Rockbot app. That means you get to be the DJ at Front Yard.

Front Yard Ellis Island

Oh, yes, there was a hell-ton of Duran Duran.

Guests get to add their favorite songs to the queue, and give the whole venue an interactive vibe. Give it a try, it’s free.

Here are more photos from Front Yard at Ellis Island.

Resorts World Drops Asian Theme, Pushes Back Opening Date to 2021

The long-awaited (understatement of the year) Resorts World rolled out some new renderings and moved back its opening date to summer of 2021.

In other words, Resorts World is set to open four years after its groundbreaking in May 2015.

Here’s a look at the latest iteration of Resorts World Las Vegas.

Resorts World Las Vegas

It’s about time Vegas got some new sparkly.

Please refer to that photo if anyone ever asks, “Hey, what does a $4.3 billion resort look like?”

It’s worth noting Cosmopolitan cost $4.18 billion.

Fluid budget and sliding open date aside, Resorts World is looking pretty slick and has released more information about its amenities.

Here’s a look at Resorts World’s pool complex.

Resorts World pool complex

There will be no shortage of breast strokes at Resorts World.

The pool complex will be a Vegas-sized 220,000-square-feet, including an 1,800-square-foot infinity pool. In the parlance of pool construction, that’s one big-ass pool complex.

Here are some other numbers of interest about Resorts World:

googie 110,000-square-foot casino
googie 5,000-seat theater
googie 70,000-square-feet of retail space
googie 350,000-square-feet of meeting and banquet space
googie 200,000-square-feet of restaurants and bars
googie 27,000-square-foot world-class spa
googie 14,000-square-foot race and sports book and live entertainment venue
googie 10,000-square-foot marquee
googie 50-foot diameter video globe

Because this blog is of the male persuasion, we perked up when we heard the side of the hotel’s west tower will have a 100,000-square-foot LED screen, making it one of the largest LED screens in the country.

Resorts World

We are confident enough in our masculinity to swoon at a video screen bigger than a football field. A football field is 57,600-square-feet.

There are some concerns about Resorts World, including that the resort says it will have a “75,000-square-foot nightclub and dayclub concept.”

That trajectory seems a holdover from a pre-Kaos era in Las Vegas. The nightlife business model has been described as broken, and not just by us. Listen to us talk about the state of Las Vegas nightclubs on KNPR.

The bigger concern, of course, is Resorts World is set to come online with a ton of supply (3,500 rooms) at a time of uncertainty about demand, as Las Vegas visitation is essentially flat and drive traffic from California has dropped significantly due to increased competition.

Lots of hopes are being pinned on the expanded Las Vegas Convention Center and Raider Stadium. It remains to be seen if those projects move the needle, and by how much.

Still, Resorts World is sparkly and we love new Las Vegas things.

Resorts World

So pretty, but if you’re headed to the hotel or casino, you’re in for a schlep.

The new Resorts World renderings serve to confirm why Wynn Resorts dropped its lawsuit asserting Resorts World was copying its “trade dress.”

Modesty precludes us from mentioning we were mentioned in that lawsuit, as well as the fact Resorts World has officially confirmed our story about smartly dropping the resort’s Asian theme.

You know we’ll be keeping an eye on Resorts World, and we can’t wait to take her for a test drive when she’s unveiled in 2021 or whenever.

Restored Golden Goose Returns to Fremont Street

The classic Golden Goose statue, which once ruled the roost over the seedy Glitter Gulch strip club, has been returned to its former glory and can again be viewed on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas.

Golden Goose downtown Las Vegas

We’re excited you’re back! Sorry, “eggsighted.” Like you didn’t know what was coming.

The sign was donated to the Downtown Project by Derek and Greg Stevens, owners of The D and Golden Gate. The Stevens acquired the Golden Goose, along with Glitter Gulch, in 2016.

Downtown Project inherited both the Golden Goose and another iconic casino sign, the baseball player from Las Vegas Club. Here’s a photo of the signs near the Las Vegas Club demolition site.

Down, but not out.

Now, the Golden Goose resides farther east than its original location, at the corner of Fremont Street and 10th Street, near the entrance the Bunkhouse Saloon.

The Golden Goose looks awesome, and not only sports a new paint job, but also revolves, as nature intended.

Downtown Project hasn’t made a big deal out of the Golden Goose restoration, so we’re going to!

Props, Downtown Project.

All right, so maybe we used “big deal” a little loosely, but we genuinely think it’s awesome Downtown Project was willing to make an investment in Las Vegas history despite the fact there’s virtually no return on investment with a giant, spinning Golden Goose.

Golden Goose

Vegas does kitsch right.

The Golden Goose casino opened in 1974 and closed in 1980. Before that, the space held State Cafe, Buckley’s and Mecca Casino.

Golden Goose

Here’s to another bunch of decades.

We haven’t heard about any plans for the Las Vegas Club’s baseball player, but another iconic statue, Vegas Vickie, is being refurbished and will return to Fremont Street when Circa Las Vegas opens in Dec. 2020.

Here are a few more photos of the Golden Goose before and after its Fremont Street comeback.

Red Square Restaurant and Vodka Bar Closes at Mandalay Bay

A longtime Las Vegas fixture, Red Square Restaurant and Vodka Bar at Mandalay Bay, has closed.

The Russian-themed restaurant closed Nov. 17, 2019. It opened back in 1999.

Red Square lounge

When we heard Red Square was closing, we were just sickle about it.

We honestly have no idea what made Red Square last 20 years, but we’re betting there was vodka involved.

At one time, Red Square boasted what was billed as the largest collection of vodka in the world.

Perhaps Red Square’s most recognizable feature was its headless Vladimir Lenin.

Lenin statue Las Vegas

Lenin had a head when Red Square opened. It was lopped off after the hotel was criticized for glorifying the Communist leader.

Red Square was taken over by Disruptive Restaurant Group, a division of SBE (the folks involved with SLS at one point), in Feb. 2019.

It’s likely MGM Resorts, owner of Mandalay Bay, realized what the new owners of SLS—now Sahara—did: Paying licensing fees to a third party can take a hefty bite out of profits and leave a restaurant (wait for it) in the red.

While plans for the Red Square space haven’t been announced, we’d wager the new restaurant will be managed in-house.

Dasvidaniya, Red Square.

Donny and Marie Osmond End 11-Year Las Vegas Residency

Donny and Marie Osmond ended their Las Vegas residency at Flamingo on Nov. 16, 2019 after an impressive, and unexpected, 11-year run.

When the siblings began their residency in Sep. 2008, nobody really thought it would last long. Donny and Marie have defied expectations, and then some, performing 1,730 shows during their time at Flamingo.

Donny & Marie

According to Donny, the pair’s original contract with Flamingo was for a six-week run.

Donny and Marie Osmond are moving on to new projects, solo, as they’d prefer. Long story.

Marie Osmond recently snagged a co-hosting gig on “The Talk,” whatever that might be.

Donny Osmond is expected to release his 62nd studio album soon.

Their stint at Flamingo has been exceptionally profitable for both the pair and the Flamingo (owned by Caesars Entertainment).

During a nasty lawsuit with their producer, it was learned Donny and Marie Osmond are each paid a base salary of $1.6 million a year, plus 40% of the box office gross.

Donny & Marie wrap

It’s a wrap. Get ready to see this one replaced with a big-ass RuPaul.

The next show lined up for the Osmonds’ former showroom is “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.” Which is, for the record, just about the most opposite thing of the “Donny & Marie Show” as is humanly possible.

New Sportsbook at The D Las Vegas Means Five Shows Are Done

Sports are a big deal, and a big draw, at The D. So, it’s not all that surprising to hear the downtown casino will turn its showroom into a proper sportsbook.

The closure of The D’s second floor showroom means its five resident shows will be out as of Jan. 5, 2020.

The D showroom

The curtain’s falling on The D’s showroom. Oh, like you didn’t see that coming.

The five shows closing at The D are: “Marriage Can Be Murder” (dinner show, never saw it), “Laughternoon” (entertaining, family-friendly show featuring Adam London), “Friends, The Musical Parody” (valiant effort, but forgettable), Jokesters Comedy Club (missed this one, too) and “Defending the Caveman” (the only show we’ve ever seen that was so bad, we walked out, then saw it another night with a different actor, just so we could walk out again).

“Marriage Can Be Murder” recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, with more than 6,000 performances under its belt. The dinner show originally opened at the Showboat Hotel & Casino.

The announcement of a new sportsbook at The D comes on the heels of a recent retooling of The D’s diminutive sportsbook not too far from the showroom. The unveil of that sportsbook happened in conjunction with a renovation of our home away from home, Vue Bar.

Vue Bar

Please don’t disturb us at Vue Bar. We already have carpal tunnel from all the autographs.

The showroom at The D never seemed an especially good fit for the casino. Downtown is much more about drinking and gambling than it is about theatrical productions.

Aside from the current crop, the only other show we can remember seeing in The D’s showroom was “Ja-Makin-Me-Laugh,” a show so awful it made “Defending the Caveman” look like “The Book of Mormon.”

Oh, and “Aussie Hunks” may have been there for a minute. Otherwise, we have no explanation for having taken this photo in 2015.

Aussie Hunks Las Vegas

Not to be mistaken for “Thunder From Down Under” or “Aussie Heat,” probably.

The new sportsbook at The D follows the recent launch of Circa Sports, a sports betting venture from brothers Derek and Greg Stevens.

The Stevens own The D, Golden Gate and the under-construction Circa Las Vegas resort. Circa is expected to open in Dec. 2020. (Note: We work in digital marketing at Fremont Street Experience as our day job. The D is a partner casino.)

We trust a couple of the shows displaced by the closure of The D’s showroom will find new homes. Hopefully, not all of them. Because life’s too short for entire shows centered around losing TV remotes and leaving the toilet seat up. All due respect to toilet seats.