BRETT’S VEGAS VIEW
Contributed by Jackie Brett
DUNKIN’ DEBUTS TWO FIRST STORES ON THE STRIP: Dunkin’ will debut its first stores on the Las Vegas Strip, opening two restaurant locations at Caesars Entertainment’s The LINQ Hotel + Experience. The grand opening at both stores will be next month in April. There will be two walk-up 800-square-foot locations: one off the Strip-facing side of The LINQ and the second next to the Caesars Forum entrance inside on the casino level. Both stores will feature Dunkin’s new “Next Generation” store image. Each location will employ approximately 12 crew members. Dunkin’s Signature cold beverages will be available through new innovative coffee tap systems, serving eight cold beverages such as iced coffees, iced teas, cold brew and nitro infused cold brew coffees. Crew members will also use top-quality, flavor-maximizing espresso machines to make hand-crafted drinks to order. Dunkin’s Signature hot coffees will also be available. Dunkin’ was founded in 1950 and now has more than 12,600 restaurants in 40 countries worldwide. The two new Dunkin’ restaurants are owned by a local franchisee network, The NVGRE Group. The group currently owns and operates 13 Dunkin’ locations throughout Nevada and Illinois, with plans to open five more Dunkin’ locations in southern Nevada in 2021.
MONOPOLY TIME ON THE STRIP: Las Vegas Sands Corp. chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson died this past January. His Las Vegas properties, The Venetian, The Palazzo, and the Sands Expo Convention Center, were sold for $6.25 billion to Apollo Global Management and VICI Properties Inc. New York-based Apollo acquires the operating assets and liabilities of the Las Vegas business for approximately $1.05 billion in cash and $1.2 billion in seller financing while New York-based Vici Properties Inc., a real estate investment trust affiliated with Caesars Entertainment, acquires subsidiaries that hold the real estate and real estate-related assets of the Venetian for approximately $4 billion in cash.
NEW MODE OF TRANSPORTATION: A couple of young entrepreneurs have a new business Kōtō Bike located downtown on the corner streets of Main and Charleston. The store front is situated in three stages, the front café, the showroom/art gallery, and the members-only lounge. The Kōtō Tori, a new electric scooter with wide inflatable tires, can be rented for a fun ride for tourists. The model comes as a one- or two-seater and affordable rental fees like one-hour single seater for $35 and hour and two hours for $55 on a two-seater.
UFC GYM® IS OPENING TWO UFC FIT® LOCATIONS: UFC GYM®, the first major brand extension of UFC®, has announced its new fitness concept, UFC FIT®, will open two new locations in Las Vegas this month. The two facilities, located at 5651 Centennial Center Blvd. and 9775 South Maryland Pkwy., will open on Saturday, March 13 and Saturday, March 27, respectively. The two locations represent the second and third UFC FIT concept gyms to open in the United States, following the grand opening of the first location in Puyallup, Wash., in January. The 50,000-square-foot Centennial and 45,000-square-foot Silverado, each multi-million-dollar facilities, will offer group fitness studios, a weight room, robust cardio equipment, swimming pool, sauna room, full-service locker room, pre- and post-workout recovery services area, indoor basketball court, and much more. Members will have access to a one-stop shop for all fitness needs including studio-quality group fitness classes such as Les Mills BodyPump™, HIIT, Water Aerobics, Zumba and MMA-inspired group fitness classes such as Boxing and Kickboxing Conditioning. Youth programming for kids ages 6 through 15, as well as a childcare service, will be offered to support fitness for the whole family. Both UFC FIT locations will be open 24 hours Monday-Friday and from 6 a.m.–6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
EL CORTEZ OPENS ITS FIRST HIGH-LIMIT ROOM: El Cortez Hotel & Casino downtown opened its first-ever high-limit room. Previously part of the slot floor, the newly converted room has two high-limit blackjack tables and three high-limit slot machines. The general manager says the request for higher limits had increased. The maximum in the high-limit room is $2,000. The room is open for blackjack every Friday and Saturday. The room’s three high-limit slot machines include Aristocrat’s Dragon Cash and two Ainsworth Super Charged 7s. The slots are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with bet ranges between $2.50 and $500. According to General Manager Adam Wiesberg, the El Cortez just spent $25 million remodeling the carpet, ceilings, hallways, and entire tower of 200 rooms. Plans are to start on the hotel lobby with a whole new floor and ceiling.
‘LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL’ WILL RETURN DOWNTOWN IN SEPTEMBER: The three-day premier music, arts, culinary, comedy, and ideas festival, Life is Beautiful, will be back this year Sept. 17-19. Early Bird tickets are on sale already ranging from General Admission 3-day for $295+ up to All-In 3-day Tickets for $2,895+. More than a traditional festival, Life is Beautiful is a celebration unifying the concepts of art, music, good, comedy, and ideas. The festival has sparked a desire for change and beauty, not just in Downtown Las Vegas, but across the world. Over the years, Life is Beautiful has featured top performing artists, such as Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, Foo Fighters, Lionel Ritchie, Stevie Wonder, Billie Eilish and Post Malone. In addition, new thoughts are generated with a series of prominent speakers who challenge attendees’ preconceived notions about the world. Previous IDEAS Series headliners have included television personality, author, model and drag queen, RuPaul Charles, and science educator Bill Nye.
STONEY’S IS BRINGING BACK LIVE MUSIC: Stoney’s Rockin’ Country at Town Square will bring back live music in April featuring Sam Grow, Austin Burke and Tyler Braden for a couple of nights each. All the shows are at 8:30 p.m. except Grow’s Saturday show is at 9 p.m. However, seating is limited, and currently only tables verses individual seats are being sold. Tickets are $15 to $25. Sam Grow leads off April 2 and 3. Up-and-coming artist Grow signed with Average Joes Entertainment in September of 2018 and has been busy crafting and recording the songs for his debut project. Now, the first two of those songs, “History” and “Boots” are out. Phoenix native Austin Burke will headline April 9 and 10. His musical career began at age 3, when he sang the national anthem for the Diamondbacks and the Suns. At 19, Burke left behind the pursuit of baseball for a country music career in Nashville. He spent four years waiting tables, writing songs and saving money to record his debut single, “Sleepin’ Around,” which led to a contract with WME and opening for numerous country stars, including Vince Gill and Dierks Bentley. Burke recently signed a publishing deal with Home Team Publishing, a creative partnership amongst Thomas Rhett, Rhett Akins, Virginia Bunetta and Roc Nation. Alabama native Tyler Branden will perform April 23-24. Following a move to Nashville in 2016, he spent several years committed to his job as a firefighter while building his catalogue and touring. With more than 25 million streams already on Spotify alone, Braden has new music due later this year.
‘MAGIC MIKE LIVE’ SHOW OPENING AT SAHARA DELAYED: The “Magic Mike Live” show, which was a major hit at the former Hard Rock, which is opening this month as Virgin Hotels on March 25, was supposed to open March 26 at the Sahara. The show’s opening date has been pushed back to Aug. 27. Ticketholders will be contacted directly by the box office to refund or reschedule, according to the company’s statement. The new Magic Mike Live Theater located just off the casino floor on the way to the Sahara’s meeting and convention spaces is going to seat 450 when COVID restrictions are lifted. It will feature a two-story bar doubling as performance space, have state-of-the-art lighting and surround sound systems, a variety of seating options from couches and easy chairs to cabaret tables, and ziplines spanning the venue allowing performers to fly across the room.
LOU GAZZARA HEADLINES THREE SPRING CONCERTS: “American Idol” finalist Lou Gazzara will perform three upcoming concerts. This month on Saturday, March 20 at 8 p.m. at Chianti Italian Restaurant at 4275 S. Durango Drive and there again on Saturday, April 17. He’ll appear at the Italian American Club on East Sahara on Thursday, April 8. Gazzara started his entertainment career as one of the youngest contestants to ever become a finalist on the hit show “American Idol” – Season II. From there, he was on the silver screen with James Brolin and AnnaLynn McCord in the 2007 film “Bad Girl Island.” Gazzara is also a Broadway World Best Performance Nominee three straight years for his leading performance in “Vegas! The Show,” where he brought to life superstars such as Sinatra, Elvis, Tome Jones, Wayne Newton and Elton John.
DOWNTOWN CONTAINER PARK’S ‘YOGA IN THE PARK’ RETURNS: Yoga sessions started up last weekend and continue every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. for yogis of all ages and skill levels. An Ashtanga-style yoga session on The Lawn is led by certified yoga practitioner Rayce Rayos. The purpose driven class leads attendees through a series of poses and breathwork accompanied by classical music encouraging guests to embrace ultimate relaxation. Each class is limited to 30 guests to allow for social distancing and masks must be worn through the duration of the class. Tickets to Downtown Container Park’s “Yoga in the Park” events are $9 and can be purchased through Eventbrite beforehand. Each guest’s ID will be checked upon entry and must match the name used to register.
FIVE IRON GOLF PRESENTS ST. PAT’S SPIRIT: Five Iron Golf at AREA15 entertainment district will celebrate the luck of the Irish with $5 domestic green beers and $5 Jameson shots on the greens on Wednesday, March 17. Guests can take a virtual swing and compete on three of Ireland’s most prestigious courses including Adare Manor, Lahinch and Royal Portrush Golf Clubs. The new Five Iron Golf spans 6,300 square feet on the second floor of AREA15 and has eight simulators featuring both TrackMan and Full Swing technology with down-the-line and front-facing cameras installed in each bay. There’s also a full bar, 12 widescreen TVs, a TV wall, shuffleboard and more. Five Iron Golf will also participate as a location in AREA15’s St. Patrick’s Day Lepre-Con Crawl from 3–9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 17. Participants of this pub crawl will sip some suds inside the bars at the complex including Oddwood Bar, The Beast by Todd English, Emporium Arcade Bar, Five Iron Golf, and Dueling Axes. A ticket includes entry to AREA15 and one domestic draft beer at each of the locations. Participants must be 21 or older. Cost is $32 per person; gratuity not included.
PAT’S THEMED NACHOS: Nacho Daddy, a locally owned modern Mexican kitchen started in 2010, is serving the Irish Nacho now through March 17 at its three locations at Miracle Mile Shops 3663 S. Las Vegas Blvd., 9560 W. Sahara, and 113 N. 4th St. downtown. The Irish Nacho has Kennebec potato chips smothered in melted cheddar and jack cheese, queso, house-made shredded corned beef, brown mustard relish and scallions. Nacho Daddy also features Shrimp Curry Nacho as the March Nacho of the Month.
HONEY SALT FARM TABLE DINNER RETURNS: James Beard nominees Elizabeth Blau and Kim Canteenwalla are returning to their Farm Table Dinner series with a new, Mexican-inspired Farm Table dinner, Escape to Cabo. Celebrating the flavors of Mexico, the dinner is set for Monday, March 22 at 6 p.m. with authentic fare and the smooth, crisp taste of Tequila Casa Dragones Blanco, a small-batch 100 Percent Pure Blue Agave silver tequila. While the format will look a little different, the community spirit of the Farm Table series remains. Due to safety protocols, all courses will be served individually instead of family-style as in dinners past. Also, groups of up to six are welcome. Tickets are required and available online at Honey Salt’s website for $54 per person with an optional wine and tequila pairing for an additional $25.
WORLD POETRY DAY CELEBRATION IS PLANNED DOWNTOWN: The public is invited to join Poetry Promise, Inc. and the city of Las Vegas for a free World Poetry Day Celebration and unveiling of the Third Street Poetry Project Sunday, March 21 from 3 to 5 p.m. downtown on Third Street between Hoover and Gass Avenues. The event will feature live poetry readings, light jazz music and refreshments available for sale from the Bubbles and Brews vintage mobile tap bar. Two of the 10 Las Vegas poets featured in the Third Street Poetry Project, former Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson and poet/photographer Rodney J. Lee will introduce the poets and their poetry. City of Las Vegas Ward 3 Councilwoman Olivia Diaz will speak at the event and unveil the new Third Street sidewalks engraved with their poetry. Activities will take place at the new permanent stage on Third Street between Hoover and Gass. Other recent improvements to Third Street transformed the section between Charleston Boulevard and Bonneville Avenue into an urban green space utilizing more than 70 percent of the corridor for pedestrians and landscaping.
VENTRILOQUISM ON DISPLAY: Through March 14, the “Ventriloquism: From Ancient Sages to Modern Stages: Three Thousand Years of Vocal Conjuration” free exhibit is on display at the Sahara West Library Gallery at 9600 W. Sahara Ave. This display unfolds the history of ventriloquism from the darkness of witchcraft to present day performing art. The exhibitor is showbiz veteran Valentine Vox who created this traveling presentation on the history of ventriloquism, which is based on his book on the history of the practice and is set to tour across America. Some of the iconic dummies on display include Edgar Bergen’s Charlie McCarthy, who made the cover of “Time” magazine in the 1940s, and Paul Winchell’s Jerry Mahoney, who starred in a national TV show in the 1950s. Other star characters are Emmy-award winner Shari Lewis’s Lamb Chop and Fats the sinister dummy from the movie “Magic.”