contributed by Jackie Brett
Last week dignitaries gathered at the dramatic new entrance to the Golden Gate Hotel & Casino, which opened in 1906 as Las Vegas’ original hotel at One Fremont Street, to celebrate the resort’s new casino expansion with a champagne toast and ribbon cutting. But the real story is much more than the new casino floor, reimagined façade, and extended outdoor bar making it longer than the long bar down the street at the D Las Vegas.
CEO and owner Derek Stevens along with his co-owner partner brother Greg Stevens are changing the whole landscape of the Fremont Street Experience and their fortuitous passion all began with the landmark Golden Gate.
According to Derek Stevens, in 2006 the brothers got off the highway in their flip-flops and casual attire and wandered in to the Golden Gate. Upon learning an investor was being welcomed, they made a proper business appointment and struck a partnership deal, and their gaming licenses came through in March 2008. When Fitzgeralds Hotel and Casino (formerly the Sundance) came up for sale on Fremont Street, they bought the establishment, remodeled it and changed it to the D Las Vegas.
Their involvement by that time was contagious and they took over another piece of land downtown and started the DLVEV – Downtown Las Vegas Event Center hosting hundreds of music, sporting and special events.
Now as dignitaries stood in front of the Golden Gate, they could look right across to the street to the Stevens’ latest endeavor, which is truly monumental. They purchased the former Las Vegas Club and in April 2016 the neighboring casino properties Mermaid’s, La Bayou, and Gentleman’s Club Glitter Gulch.
Actually La Bayou (formerly Coin Castle) was adjacent to the Golden Gate and separated only by an alley and the space became the new entrance and casino expansion being celebrated. If you glance up at the hotel and take a hard look for the seam where the building was expanded, you can appreciate the attention to detail the Stevens put into their projects. Their focal point right inside the new entrance decorated with glamourous 500-pound golden velvet drapes and a marble-floor rotunda is an original eye-catching 360-degree, 24-foot tower of televisions displayed like an exploding fountain.
Another personal touch is the Golden Gate has kept a vintage inspired look and has historical memorabilia on display near the hotel lobby. Sadly for now the famous shrimp cocktail isn’t being served and Du-Par’s Restaurant & Bakery is closed until the space is re-established.
Presently, Stevens isn’t divulging the new plans for the Las Vegas Club-block currently being demolished but promise it will be equal to whatever you can see on the Strip.