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Strip Update: New Restaurants, New Resorts And A Potential Strike

From potential strikes to new arenas, the Las Vegas Strip is always on the verge of change.

Nobody knows it better than Scott Roeben, editor and founder of VitalVegas.com, and freelance writer Lissa Townsend Rodgers.

They're with us to talk about the latest happenings on the Strip, and in Las Vegas' entertainment industry.

DISCUSSION HIGHLIGHTS

New Restaurant at Planet Hollywood:

Roeben: What I have heard is that Chick-Fil-A is coming to the Strip. Planet Hollywood has closed Pink's Hotdogs, and I believe they're also going to close Pinup Pizza. That is going to be the new location of this Chick-Fil-A.

On the potential strike by the Culinary Union:

Townsend Rodgers: I'm not that surprised. I'm that surprised that they seem to be working it out.

Roeben: Everybody knows what they're going to get on day one, but they have to go through this ritual. The union has to do its thing to justify its existence. The companies have to hire their lawyers and put in their time.

All the way along, I've been saying you're going to resolve it. It might go slightly past the date. Once Caesars goes, everybody else is going to go.

Support comes from

On Mario Batali's restaurants closing after allegations of serious sexual misconduct against the chef surfaced:

Roeben: The original strategy was to take Mario Batali's names of those signs. I believe at one of the restaurants, they literally just put a piece of black tape over his name.

When the story was on "60 Minutes," they literally pulled the plug on these three restaurants overnight. Carnevino is known as one of the best steakhouses in Vegas. A lot of people think it is one of the best in the country. So, for the company to do that was very bold.

My big question is what happens to Eataly. Eataly is another joint project that's going into the Park MGM -- huge space, hugely expensive, still being built out, but there really has been no word on what the future of that space is going to be.

I think it is great to take a stand on something like that and say, "This is what our company stands for. We're not going to tolerate it because it's a reflection of our company."

On Wolfgang Puck's push to have restaurants validate parking on the Strip:

Roeben: This is a huge step because he has a lot of heft. He is a true celebrity chef. I think a lot of restaurants are thinking the same thing. They are getting hit. They are getting hurt by paid parking at these casinos.

He is a trendsetter in so many ways. So him coming out so vocally about it really could make a difference for other establishments.

Townsend Rodgers: I think now, especially if you're a local, you're thinking, "I could go to a restaurant on the Strip and pay $15, $20, whatever dollars for parking on top of my meal, or I could go someplace off the Strip." We have so many options. We've had a lot of people trained on the Strip open their own spaces.  

On whether free parking will ever return to the Strip:

Townsend Rodgers: It is hard to claw back money, especially from a casino -- as we all know. It would be nice if there was validation: if you spend X amount of money or locals park for free for a couple of hours.

Roeben: My solution is to get the MGM credit card. There is no fee. It is so pleasant to drive in and put that player's card in there, and get that free parking.

It is something off your mind because I hate that feeling of being rushed. I want to go and drink, and gamble, and dine, and do what I'm doing without that feeling of a ticking clock.

They are really hurting themselves, because there is no way to measure the revenue that is lost because I'm feeling rushed.

Townsend Rodgers: Is it a case where you're stepping over the dollar to get to a dime? They're saying, "Yeah! I'm getting $10 for parking!" but that guy didn't drop $50 in a machine because of it.

Roeben: It is a very short-sighted way to bolster the bottom line. I absolutely believe that it is detrimental to the perception of Las Vegas and that people are making travel decisions based on those annoyances related to fees.

On the sphere planned for an open area east of the Sands Convention Center behind the Venetian and Palazzo.

Roeben: I am very excited about it.

Townsend Rodgers: It is going to be this multimedia venue built by the Sands. They're going to build a pedestrian bridge to it. It's going to be this big, globe-like thing. You go inside and they can do this multidimensional screen thing. All I know is that is some sort of 360, you can walk in and the floor vibrates with the base and they want Sting to play in a fake rainforest.

Roeben: If you think about IMAX, it is IMAX times 1,000 … it truly sounds like it's going to be amazing.

The bigger question is: whose butts are going to be in those seats? There are a lot of entertainment venues in town. Based on the current demand, it seems a little sketchy.

I think what we're starting to see is the beginning of that saturation point -- and now you're building another massive entertainment venue. That's going to be tricky, because a lot of things are going to have to happen at the same time. The convention center is going to have to expand. You're going to have to have other casinos actually being built, like Resorts World, to increase the overall visitation to town to support these entertainment venues.

On whether the Palms will return to its status as the hip place in Las Vegas:

Townsend Rodgers: I don't know. What they've done is definitely improved the property and draw some more people. The buffet is nice. It is definitely better than it was, because it was definitely looking a little shopworn as a property. It is hipper, but I don't think it's going to be that hot again.

I don't think an overall casino is a hot thing anymore. It is, "What is this restaurant, what is this club, what is this festival," that is happening there. That sort of brings it to the place rather than one property carrying that kind cache throughout the whole property.

Roeben: I think the Palms is making a conscious effort to be that thing. They opened four venues in one day. They're investing $620 million. They're really invested in being that next hot thing without alienating the local players who are paying the bills over there.

On the lingering impact the Oct. 1 shooting is having on Mandalay Bay:

Roeben: I was at Delano the other night, and the Reva restaurant was absolutely empty. You go up to Skyfall Lounge, and you go to that restaurant, and you have a view of that space down below, and it is creepy.

I think, over time, they are going to realize that they're going to have to do something about that perception of that property. I believe a rebrand could be in that mix as well.

Townsend Rodgers: I've heard that they've lost events and things are down over there. And waiting for the Raiders to come to fix things isn't going to happen. I think that has been some of the idea on the south Strip.

I know it is going to be hard, but I do think they're going to have to make some kind of changes at that property -- rename it - something.

On Derek Stevens' new project downtown:

Roeben: I've heard that connection [to Jay Sarno's Grandissimo project] because a lot of people think that's what he's not going to name it. I don't think so.

I asked Derek Stevens that very question -- "Was this inspired by the other project that never happened?" -- and he said, "It will probably inform the architects, but you're going to have to talk to the architects."

It is a very small space. It is a very dramatic, tall structure they're going to have to get an FAA waiver [for] because it is so tall. It is taller than anything around there, but he's trying to get the rooms up high enough that people get a view of the Strip.

Guests

Scott Roeben, editor and founder, VitalVegas.comLissa Townsend Rodgers, freelance writer

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