Publisher’s Note: VegasOnlyEntertainment offers a heartfelt welcome back to longtime Vegas entertainment columnist, Jackie Brett, following several months of COVID-19 government somewhat mandated isolation and live entertainment shut-downs. Some venues and outlets have survived: sadly, some have not. For those still hanging in there, your loyal fans and customers no doubt will do their best to support you and help you regain at least some of the ground you have lost during this unprecedented event in our city’s history. –Christine McKellar
BRETT’S VEGAS VIEW
contributed by Jackie Brett
COMING OUT OF HIBERNATION: It is still hard to believe Las Vegas shut down and retreated into an altered state of hibernation. Like a big bear’s awakening, the city is slowly coming alive. Daily news is released about another hotel, restaurant, attraction, etc., reopening along with information about how safety measures are in place such as 50-percent occupancy for dining establishments and in many cases special offers. Entertainment, sports, special events and conventions are going to be the last of the tourism components to be revived. Unfortunately, some venues, outlets and restaurants will not be reopening at all. One good thing, self-parking in many cases is free again on the Strip.
GOOD NEWS – CONSTRUCTION CONTINUED ON CIRCA: It is always exciting to have something new opening in Las Vegas and Downtown’s newest property Circa Resort & Casino will debut Oct. 28, 2020, which is ahead of the previously slated December launch. The 1.25-million-square-foot integrated casino-resort will open with its first five floors of amenities and state-of-the-art parking hub – Garage Mahal – ahead of schedule. To achieve this expedited timeline, resort owner Derek Stevens reallocated construction resources from Circa’s hotel tower to the first five floors. Slated for completion at the end of 2020, the resort’s tower will feature 777 rooms and suites starting on the eighth floor and room reservations go live this week.
FUTURE NFL PRO BOWL PLANS: The National Football League announced the 2021 Pro Bowl will take place in Las Vegas at the Raiders’ new Allegiant Stadium home on Jan. 31, 2021. This move will bring an end to the event’s brief run in Orlando and make Las Vegas the 11th city of host the Pro Bowl since 1950. The fan-driven, weeklong Pro Bowl event will be a main attraction in the city and will feature various activities, including the NFL FLAG Championship games, team practices for both the AFC and NFC All-Stars, and the popular Pro Bowl Skills Showdown. Pro Bowl week will also support a series of community and charitable-focused events benefiting the Las Vegas community. Las Vegas before COVID-19 was set to welcome the NFL to its new market in April with the 2020 NFL Draft, which became a remote, virtual experience. Las Vegas will instead host the 2022 draft.
BIG ELVIS OFFERS GLIMMER OF ENTERTAINMENT: While the showrooms are not opening yet, fan favorite Pete Vallee better known as “Big Elvis” is back performing his no-cover show at the Piano Bar at Harrah’s at 2, 3:30 and 5 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Big Elvis has performed on the Strip since he started at the former Barbary Coast in 2002 and been at Harrah’s Piano Bar since 2012. In addition, The Twins dueling pianos act is running in the lounge starting at 9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The outdoor Carnaval Court located between Harrah’s and The Linq is also offering music.
MEMORABILIA ON THE MOVE: With the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino closed to become Virgin Hotels Las Vegas by the end of this year, prized authentic music memorabilia that formerly adorned the walls was transported out of Las Vegas filling five 53-foot semi-trucks. Some memorabilia items included Prince’s Cloud Guitar and stage outfit, Nikki Sixx’s motorcycle, Jimi Hendrix’s jacket he wore the day he died, Elvis Presley’s Key to the City of Las Vegas, and Johnny Cash’s autographed and inscribed Martin Guitar. Meanwhile, Hard Rock Cafe® Las Vegas on the famous Strip remains open.
NEW MURAL AT NEON MUSEUM CELEBRATES VEGAS LANDMARKS: Las Vegas artist James Stanford completed his new mural at The Neon Museum’s Reed Whipple building. The monumental mural, entitled “From the Land Beyond,” taken from the 1958 film “The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad,” was commissioned by the Cultural Corridor Coalition as part of the beautification of Downtown Las Vegas through public art projects. The vibrant 154 x 19 square-foot installation covers the south wall of The Neon Museum’s newly acquired building, located across the street from the museum. Stanford’s work provides a contemporary complement to The Neon Museum’s mission of preserving Las Vegas’ iconic signs. His design pays homage to early Las Vegas hotels, starting with the Stardust, which was imploded in 2007. Many of the resort’s historic signs are on display in The Neon Museum Boneyard. The artwork includes two large Moai carved from lava rock, which pay tribute to the Stardust’s Aku Aku Polynesian restaurant and Tiki Bar. He also depicts the Dunes’ Sultan from the famed resort, which closed in 1993 making way for the Bellagio, which opened in 1998. The vast mural is situated near Stanford’s 2,000-square-foot mural, “A Phalanx of Angels Ascending,” completed in 2019 for The 705 building, an arts incubator. This work commemorated the iconic Blue Angel statue which watched over Downtown Las Vegas for 61 years from its mid-century perch at the Blue Angel Motel.
FOURTH OF JULY: The Plaza will celebrate with downtown Las Vegas’ only live fireworks show at 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 4. The fireworks will be staged from multiple locations on the resort’s roofs and towers. To allow for prime viewing of the fireworks and increased pedestrian traffic, Main Street will be closed to vehicular traffic for a limited time from Carson Ave. to Ogden Ave. Red Rock and Green Valley Ranch Resorts will each host 10-minute fireworks shows at approximately 9 p.m. on July 4. Pinkbox Doughnuts, with three off-Strip locations throughout the Las Vegas Valley, will celebrate Fourth of July with an array of six limited-edition patriotic doughnuts, July 2-5, along with a new island-inspired “Doughnut of the Month,” which is Coconut Fever, throughout July. Pinkbox Doughnuts is open 24 hours daily.
BUGSY & MEYER’S STEAKHOUSE READY TO OPEN AT FLAMINGO: With the recent reopening of the Flamingo, the new $10 million Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse will open on Thursday, July 2, and transport guests back to the resort’s reimagined vintage roots. The restaurant’s name is a nod to Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel and business partner Meyer Lansky, who famously opened the Flamingo in 1946 to bring Hollywood glam to the desert. This new dining experience takes over the space formerly occupied Center Cut Steakhouse which the hotel closed after a seven-year run. Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse will feature a bakery façade, dry aged meat cooler, centerpiece bar and lounge, raw bar, three private dining rooms, ornate dining room, a hidden speakeasy The Count Room, and more. A specialty curated art collection will include a custom beaded flamingo piece created by renowned designer Jonathan Adler which took nearly 100 hours to make. In addition, Food Network’s “Vegas Chef Prizefight” winner Lamar Moore from Chicago, Ill., is Head Chef. Moore joins Executive Chef, Honorio Mecinas, who has more than 15-years of experience on the Strip.
MORE RESTAURANT NEWS: Oscar’s Steakhouse at the Plaza distinguishable by the hotel’s glass dome is open serving dinner 5-10 p.m. Thursday-Sunday along with the lounge and its popular happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. Border Grill Mandalay Bay reopens on Wednesday, July 1 and is now accepting reservations. Off-Strip Ferraro’s Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar will hold its next Taste & Learn monthly wine-tasting dinner on Saturday, July 25 at 6 p.m. July’s event will take participants on a tour of Italy, from north to south, spotlighting wines from Friuli, Tuscany and Campania. Tickets for the all-inclusive experience are $75, call 702-64-5300.
BUFFETS IN QUESTION: All 97 of the salad buffet-style restaurants in the Sweet Tomatoes nationwide chain, including three outposts in Las Vegas, will permanently close, according to parent company Garden Fresh. The future of the Las Vegas buffet as a dining institution remains in question, especially on the Strip where there’s a buffet in nearly every hotel. At Caesars Palace, the resort initiated a multi-million-dollar makeover of its 25,000-square-foot, 600-seat Bacchanal Buffet. Corner Market Buffet at Treasure Island is closing the 12,575-square-foot space to make room for a sports book with an added bar. This change is after going through a $3.6 million renovation for the buffet less than two years ago. The Buffet at Wynn is the first buffet on the Strip to reopen with almost 90 all-you-can-eat dishes served at the table instead of the buffet line. Diners can order from a menu, with servers bringing dishes to the table with the option to reorder as many times as desired within a two-hour period. The buffet is featuring tables spread apart for social distancing, touchless technologies, and both disposable single-use and QR code downloadable menus. Reservations are required and to expedite entry, customers will pay at the end of their meal.
TIVOLI VILLAGE DINING CHANGES: Hamptons and Brio Tuscan Grille have closed at Tivoli Village; however, new restaurants will be opening there. The new concept The Lounge at El Dorado will debut later this year next to El Dorado Cantina and occupy the former Hamptons’ space. The Lounge will have the same hours of operation as the El Dorado Cantina and will share the courtyard and patio area. The combined 5,393-square-foot space will have nine booths between the first and second floors and room for natural social distancing. Las Vegas Chef James Tree and Los Angeles’ LEV Group Executive Chef Bruce Kalman are planning a new dual-pronged restaurant project to open this coming fall. The new restaurant Scuola Vecchia (“Old School”) will take over the large space which housed the Brio restaurant. This venue has a semi-covered patio facing the Tivoli fountain. Scuola Vecchia will feature a menu blending Italian dishes by Chefs Trees and Kalman. Meanwhile Ada’s, previously serving creative Italian, will evolve into a more casual wine bar with tapas and small plates in a comfortable social environment. Wine and food will also be available to takeaway. Trees will remain Chef/Partner of the space.
RESTAURANTS FADING AWAY: Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro with a patio on the Strip, weekend brunch, cheese and charcuterie bar representing 60 farmhouse and artisanal selections, and raw bar decided to permanently close after 12 years at The Palazzo. Carnegie Deli at The Mirage and Chana Tang at the MGM Grand also closed. At Aria, Aria Café closed, and Herringbone converted into Salt & Ivy. Ricardo Zarate closed his Once restaurant at the Grand Canal Shoppes. Other COVID-10 dining closures include three PizzaRev locations, both Miller’s Ale House outlets, four Sin City Brewing Co. venues, Ricardo’s Mexican Restaurant, and Served in Henderson.
BINGO NEWS: Arizona Charlie’s, with two local locations at 740 S. Decatur Blvd. and 4575 Boulder Hwy., will celebrate National Bingo Day, Saturday, June 27, with its recently unveiled doubled and triple pay sessions 1-9 p.m., along with a “Bingo Millions Mega” progressive and a chance to win $1,000,000. Downtown Las Vegas’ only bingo room located in the Plaza on two floors above the main casino is again offering six daily bingo sessions at 11 a.m., 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 p.m. In addition, the Plaza’s $175,000 Super Bingo tournament originally planned for June will now happen Sunday, July 5-Tuesday, July 7. The event attracts bingo fans for the opportunity to win big playing games over two days, with a super coverall both days. Bingo-only registration is $130 per person. Hotel-and-bingo packages start at $239 for a three-night stay.
POKER ROOMS ARE IN PLAY AGAIN: South Point has debuted a newly renovated and expanded non-smoking poker room open 24 hours. The property has added eight additional tables, bringing the room’s total to 30. Players can enjoy the upgraded 55-inch 4K televisions throughout the room, in addition to two new 90-inch televisions. Every seat in the room includes a phone charging station. Winners will be paid out at a new podium. Poker rooms are open at the Golden Nugget, Orleans, The Venetian, and Sahara. The Bellagio has approval for six-handed tables with the use of Plexiglas dividers between players and is open daily 24 hours. Caesars Palace is using five-handed tables with players required to wear masks.
MOB MUSEUM HOSTS VIRTUAL ‘OPERATION SUMMER CAMP’: For the first time, The Mob Museum will host “Operation Summer Camp,” a virtual summer camp starting Monday, July 6. Camp sessions will incorporate hands-on programming for youth ages 8 to 17 years old, delivering age-appropriate STEM and social studies activities focused on criminal investigation and forensic science. “Operation Summer Camp” is a live, Museum educator-directed virtual program offered as daily, three-hour Zoom sessions plus additional activities to be completed at the campers’ leisure, providing a total of 4 to 5 hours’ worth of activities per day. Two camps target different age groups and cost $150 per camper or $125 for museum members.
HYPERX ESPORTS ARENA LAS VEGAS RESUMES PLAY: Allied Esports’ flagship venue, HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas, located at the Luxor, reopens Thursday, June 25 with a modified schedule for daily play and weekly tournaments. Guests will be offered two ways to experience the venue. Walk-up video game play on PCs and consoles will be available Monday through Friday from 4 to 11 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from noon to 11 p.m. The merchandise area will be open during business hours but limited to online kiosk or personal mobile purchases only. The arena’s weekly tournament schedule will restart on a limited basis featuring Wednesday Whiffs (Super Smash Bros. Ultimate only), Friday Frags (Fortnite) and Saturday Night Speedway (Mario Kart 8). Tournaments will be capped at the maximum number of players allowed by physical distancing guidelines. VIP rooms and other large gathering spaces will remain closed. Non-participant guests will be required to follow social distancing rules while in the arena. Started in March as a response to the closure of the arena, Allied Esports will continue its online tournaments and introduce a new online format beginning in July. HyperX Esports Arena Las Vegas celebrated its second anniversary in March 2020 as the center of esports entertainment on The Las Vegas Strip.
BURLESQUE HALL OF FAME REOPENS: The Burlesque Hall of Fame museum has reopened with limited attendance during Phase II on the state’s reopening. The museum is open three days a week – Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday – from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., on a timed-entry basis limited to six admissions per hour and no more than 10 visitors in the space at any given time. Reservations for time slots can be made online. The museum is dedicated to preserving the living legacy of burlesque as an artform and cultural phenomenon. It is located at 1027 S. Main Street, #110.
VISITING THE GRAND CANYON: Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines is taking off again with fights to the Grand Canyon and new health and safety policies, which include temperature checks, recommended social distancing, required face coverings, and extensive cleaning procedures. To celebrate, the airline is extending a limited time 20-percent discount on the Highlights Air Tour, which departs from the Las Vegas/Boulder Terminal. The discount will apply for bookings made now through Sunday, July 5, for travel from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020.
QUICK TIDBITS: MGM Resorts’ Delano Las Vegas, Mandalay Bay and Aria are set to open July 1. The Eiffel Tower at Paris has a new, free light show in honor of the resort’s reopening every half hour from dusk to midnight nightly through June 30. Topgolf Las Vegas is open again with new safety procedures in place. Doors open daily at 10 a.m.
‘REAL’ SIGHTING: Last week, Jing Restaurant at Downtown Summerlin, welcomed “Real Housewives of Orange County” star Emily Simpson with her husband Shane as they celebrated his birthday. The couple was joined by a few close friends including local entertainer Jennifer Romas and longtime friend Deana Linn. They were greeted by the restaurant’s owner Charlie Huang.