Derek Stevens Looks Toward Downtown’s Past to See Its Future – Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I talk about two of Derek Stevens’ latest moves in Downtown Las Vegas. How are they tied to the past?

The past few weeks have offered a good perspective on the dance between old Vegas, new Vegas and new old Vegas that characterizes our times. In particular, two incidents involving Downtown casino owner Derek Stevens that could only have happened in 2017 show just how far Las Vegas has come and why it’s important not to lose sight of its past.

Read more: Derek Stevens Looks Toward Downtown’s Past to See Its Future – Vegas Seven

I really was reminded of Jackie Gaughan when I heard about The D hosting the Golden Knights–it’s exactly the kind of thing he would have done. At this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stevens driving around The D’s garage with a pair of jumper cables.*

 

 

 

__________________

* I’ve heard from multiple people that Jackie Gaughan would do just that at the El Cortez, ready to help out any customer with a dead battery.

Links in the El Cortez Chain – Vegas Seven

The El Cortez turned 75 earlier this month. I was there. I wrote about it for Vegas Seven:

You might have missed the El Cortez’s 75th anniversary celebration. It didn’t have the glitz of Caesars Palace’s 50th, in which a summer of events and promotions culminated in a gala featuring stars of yesterday and today. No, CEO and chairman Kenny Epstein chose to mark the occasion the same way that big days have been celebrated since the days when Jackie Gaughan still lived on the property: sheet cake and champagne.

Read more: Links in the El Cortez Chain – Vegas Seven

I wanted to capture the difference between the El Cortez and larger places in this article. It may be a distinction better experienced first hand.

The Revival of Casino History in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I look at the comeback of history in Downtown Las Vegas:

On the heels of the Las Vegas Club’s closing comes news that a revived interest in casino history is spreading on Fremont Street.

Read More: The Revival of Casino History – Vegas Seven

I like this development–Las Vegas has a wonderful history, and more people appreciating it is a great thing.

What Does Bitcoin’s Downtown Presence Say About Las Vegas—and the Future? | Vegas Seven

When Derek Stevens started accepting Bitcoin at The D and Golden Gate, I became curious: How did he make the decision to do this, and why? The result of my curiosity is this week’s Green Felt Journal:

Sometimes a story about newfangled technology doubles as one about old-fashioned neighborhood gumption. When The D and the Golden Gate became the first casinos to accept Bitcoin albeit only for non-gaming purchases it was a sign of the way Downtown Las Vegas, by dint of geography and necessity, is pushing the boundaries of innovation in the casino business.

via What Does Bitcoin’s Downtown Presence Say About Las Vegas—and the Future? | Vegas Seven.

Since the gaming industry handles so much money, any alternate form of payment should be of interest. We will have to see how Bitcoin develops.

Watch Grandissimo on Frequency

Last Thursday, I took part in Frequency, DTLV.com’s interview series. It was a great night, and I’m thrilled that the event was recorded so that you can see it for yourself:

Watch Frequency With David G. Schwartz, William Swaney and Wassa Coulibaly

I’d like to thank my friend and editor Greg Miller for being a great interviewer—wonderful questions and we could have talked for much, much longer.

Last Thursday, I took part in Frequency, DTLV.com’s interview series. It was a great night, and I’m thrilled that the event was recorded so that you can see it for yourself:

Watch Frequency With David G. Schwartz, William Swaney and Wassa Coulibaly

I’d like to thank my friend and editor Greg Miller for being a great interviewer—wonderful questions and we could have talked for much, much longer.

Watch Grandissimo on Frequency

Last Thursday, I took part in Frequency, DTLV.com’s interview series. It was a great night, and I’m thrilled that the event was recorded so that you can see it for yourself:

Watch Frequency With David G. Schwartz, William Swaney and Wassa Coulibaly

I’d like to thank my friend and editor Greg Miller for being a great interviewer—wonderful questions and we could have talked for much, much longer.

Last Thursday, I took part in Frequency, DTLV.com’s interview series. It was a great night, and I’m thrilled that the event was recorded so that you can see it for yourself:

Watch Frequency With David G. Schwartz, William Swaney and Wassa Coulibaly

I’d like to thank my friend and editor Greg Miller for being a great interviewer—wonderful questions and we could have talked for much, much longer.

Live Event! Frequency @ The Beat

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the next Frequency event at The Beat in Downtown Las Vegas. Here’s all the info you need:

Just in case that image didn’t display for you, the event is on February 13 at 7 PM, live in The Beat, 520 Fremont St Las Vegas, NV 89101.

I hope to see you there!

I’m thrilled to be taking part in the next Frequency event at The Beat in Downtown Las Vegas. Here’s all the info you need:

Just in case that image didn’t display for you, the event is on February 13 at 7 PM, live in The Beat, 520 Fremont St Las Vegas, NV 89101.

I hope to see you there!

The Experience of Fremont in Vegas Seven

In this week’s Green Felt Journal, I take a look at the origin of the Fremont Street Experience:

Fremont Street and the downtown casinos might be on the verge of a renaissance. Several casinos have reinvented themselves with renovations and expansions that try to blend nostalgia, modern comforts and value. But this isn’t the first time downtown has reinvented itself. In the 1950s, it tried emulating the Strip by replacing its rough-hewn gambling halls with hotel-casinos. More recently, in 1995, the Fremont Street Experience transformed downtown; in many ways, the casino district is only now growing into that change

via The Experience of Fremont | Vegas Seven.

I got the idea for this column while interviewing Mark Brandenburg, who was the junior partner at the Downtown roundtable I describe. You can listen to the original UNLV Gaming Podcast here.

Mob Neighbors in Vegas Seven

I didn’t have a chance to share this yesterday, but this week’s Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven is about the Mob Museum’s impact on its casino neighbors Downtown:

The really interesting story in the wake of the Mob Museum’s Feb. 14 debut will be how the museum reacts to its downtown casino neighbors—and how they react to it. Usually, when people think of the mob in Las Vegas, they think of Teamster-financed Strip resorts, complete with visions of Frank Sinatra, Sam Giancana and Carl Cohen having a schwitz in the Sands’ steam room while mob lackeys bagged up money for Chicago in the count room. But downtown, even though it’s better known for characters like Benny Binion, Sam Boyd, Mel Exber and Jackie Gaughan, was just as open to mob influence as the Strip.

via Mob Neighbors | Vegas Seven.

I wanted to pull in some lesser-known historical material about the mob’s role Downtown and highlight how the Museum’s already impacted the casinos.

On a sad related note, Dennis Gomes, who helped to drive the mob about of casinos like the Fremont, passed away last night. I’ve written a short Vegas Seven blog piece about his influence on Nevada and the national casino industry.

I worked for Dennis at the Taj back in 1994-5, and, as I told someone this morning, it obviously made an impression on me since I’m still studying the industry 18 years later. I had a few nice exchanges with him over Twitter in the past few months and was hoping to record a podcast interview with him when our schedules permitted. Sadly, that’s not going to happen now, but there’s enough that’s been written about his career in gaming that there’s no danger of his legacy going unheralded. If I got a ballot for the Gaming Hall of Fame, I know how I’d be marking it this year.

My thoughts and prayers go out to Mr. Gomes’s family and friends. As I said this morning, Atlantic City–and the gaming industry–has lost a leader and a friend.

Island Sushi rundown plus social media talk in Vegas Seven

This week in my Green Felt Journal column I talk a little about the role of food in marketing a casino, the future of Downtown, and how the Plaza’s going to fare by looking at Terence Fong’s Island Sushi. From Vegas Seven:

In that light, recruiting chef Terence Fong, owner of Henderson’s Island Sushi and Hawaiian Grill, to open a branch of his popular Eastern Avenue eatery in the Plaza was a masterstroke for two reasons. First, Fong is a casino veteran who spent years at Caesars Palace and with Wolfgang Puck; he worked in some of the city’s most historic restaurants (Bacchanal, Andre’s) before leaving the Strip to spend more time with his family and, ultimately, to pour his energy into Island Sushi. He knows how to run a casino eatery.

via In the Dining Business, the Plaza Plays Smart | Vegas Seven.

I first tried the Plaza Island over a lunch meeting with a trio of high-powered Plaza marketing executives. Got the chicken katsu. Was very impressed. Would have gladly paid for it had one of the execs not had the Power of the Pencil. While I’d been thinking about doing a piece on Fong, I’ve got to admit that the quality of the food made it a “hey, I want to write about this next week” as opposed to, “this might be a good idea for an article someday” piece. In a later interview, I found Fong to be passionate and deeply knowledgeable. I don’t usually do “food” writing, and I wouldn’t call this food writing since I’m more looking at the role of the restaurant in the Plaza (and Downtown’s) rebirth as opposed to comparing it to other sushi places.

I thought highly enough of Island to check out the Eastern location, where I had great sushi and some of the best-tasting seaweed salad I’ve had in a long time. It put the stuff they serve at the Wynn buffet to shame, at the very least. I paid my own check, so this is not a sponsored conversation.

Speaking of which, I also took a look at the Cosmopolitan’s social media strategy at the prompting of a Vegas Seven editor. I struggled to articulate just how I felt about it. While the piece, part of the new media section, isn’t available in its own html page just yet, you can check it out in the digital edition right here.