Two Way Hard Three | Las Vegas Casino & Design Blog

January 10, 2011

Vegas Gang #56 - January 10th, 2011

Posted by Hunter

This time on the show:

* Trippies 2010
* Alex Closes @ Wynn Las Vegas
* Plams LovesMan - Maloof Downfall?
* Social Media Abuse - Bubble Bursting?

** Sure Bets **

* Stratosphere
* Netflix
* Wynn Las Vegas room re-design
* El Cortez
* Professional Brakes
* NYT Disunion Series
* AC Revenue Numbers

Check out the show:

Feel free to leave your comments below. If it's a question that you want asked on the show, please make that clear in your post. You can also send those to


Read archived comments (10 so far)
January 11, 2011 5:07 PM Posted by detroit1051

Vegas Gang was great, but I was surprised by the discussion of Alex's closing. Hunter, you were the lone ranger in questioning why Steve Wynn would close the premier dining room in either Wynn or Encore.

Alex Stratta was so revered by Wynn (at one time) that he was the only chef who had two restaurants with his name, Alex and Stratta. I can't believe Stratta will remain with Wynn to operate only Stratta. A fascinating part of the discussion was asking whether Michael Morton, newly freed from Maloof, might be developing new restaurants for Wynn. That could prove to be very interesting, especially based on early reviews of La Cave.

Regardless, something has changed with Steve Wynn. When he opened Wynn Las Vegas, he talked about it being one of the world's finest hotels with some of the world's finest restaurants. And, it was. Alex, Bartolotta, Boulud, Tableau, Wing Lei, Country Club, Okada etc, etc. Now, the restaurant scene is looking much more corporate. Alex Stratta is probably on his way out, Takashi Yagihashi left Okada, Stephen Kalt left Corsa Cucina and Daniel Boulud is gone. Mark LoRusso, star at the under-appreciated Tableau at least was kept in the house and presides over Botero. Yesterday, ELV reported that Frederic Robert is suddenly no longer chief pastry chef. Jimmy Sneed was booted out of Country Club Grill, I believe before it even opened.

Man, you need a scorecard to keep track. I know chefs are a transient bunch of very talented people who often change restaurants, but this is getting out of hand. Perhaps Steve Wynn only needs a certain number of fine dining restaurants to serve both Wynn and Encore and to meet his numbers. I would speculate that Steve now considers his premier restaurants to be Sinatra, Wing Lei and Botero, followed by Bartolotta and SW.

I believe each casino operator needs one over the top restaurant as an image maker to serve certain types of paying customers and high roller casino players. Caesars Entertainment has Guy Savoy, MGM Resorts has Joel Robuchon, Picasso (thanks to Steve Wynn) and to a lesser extent, LeCirque (also thanks to Steve Wynn) and Wynn Resorts has, for a few more days, Alex.

Is Steve deliberating dumbing down Wynncore for some reason I don't understand?

Oh, well. It's an interesting subject, one we all discussed here as far back as July, 2006:

January 11, 2011 8:46 PM Posted by VegasTraveler

Hey just to correct Chuck, I think Wynn did actually thank VegasTripping for the awards on Twitter at least. No mention was made on their website though.

January 12, 2011 8:26 AM Posted by Hunter

They did but I believe it was after we recorded the show.

January 12, 2011 10:33 AM Posted by Marty

I'm also quite concerned about what's going on at Wynn. The loss of Alex is huge and with this coming shortly after Boulud's leaving, things aren't looking good. All of a sudden, the Wynn is falling when it comes to fine dining which hurts the resort's image, as far as I'm concerned. If the Wynn aspires to be one of the best resorts in the world, then they need food offerings to equal that. No offense to the other dining options that are left since most are quite good, but they certainly are not up to the level of what Alex is. I love Stratta and I'd hate to see that be a casualty as well.

January 12, 2011 12:14 PM Posted by kagehitokiri

great article on bartolotta

January 12, 2011 5:06 PM Posted by Chris77

In 2007 Wynn Las Vegas aspired to be the best resort in the world. In 2011 their aspiration is to develop a business model for Vegas that will actually be sustainable as a going concern without being subsidized by Macau. Wynncore has been steadily losing money every quarter for the past 2 years, and they are at the point where they have to decide if they want to keep their image up, or keep their doors open. It's a sad state of affairs, but Steve is simply doing what has to be done to stay in business.

January 12, 2011 7:52 PM Posted by kagehitokiri

"“high-end French dining is not what people want these days.”

joel robuchon, guy savoy, twist = highly regarded french chefs

but alex was the only one besides picasso to retain published prix fixe only

January 14, 2011 10:30 AM Posted by detroit1051

John Curtas (ELV) and Eric Gladstone furher our discussion of Alex's closing in their dialogue here:

Well worth reading but sad.

By the way, I hadn't known that Chef Chen at Wing Lei is gone. When did he leave?

January 14, 2011 8:32 PM Posted by Ted Newkirk

Jeff Simpson was very polite in his dissension about some of the Trippies. Some of those selections have many in this business with a 702 area code going WTF?!?

I caught the live Trippies broadcast from about 9:30 PM on, plus this VegasGang and got a better read on what was trying to be accomplished. It isn't about absolute best or (especially) worst. It was about how something lives up to expectations. I get it.

I do think Chuck may wish to consider adding a contributor that both lives here and does more mid-range activities to round out his editorial crew. Guys who only come to Las Vegas a few times a year, and/or consider anything outside or Wynn or CityCenter to be riff-raff probably shouldn't be deciding some of those awards.

Don't get me wrong: I love Wynncore. I can be from my home office to sitting at a bar there with a drink and cigar in my hand in 15 minutes (and do). Nothing like the joint. But last week I went to O'Sheas. Craps tables were hopping (I actually tossed in $2 and said I wanted a Two Way Hard Three). Obviously playing craps 10 feet from the sidewalk of The Strip is a blast. Bar was packed, beer pong was packed, a friend and I were banging on our VP machines, bartender was pouring me doubles (I was tipping well), watching some hot chicks play beer pong. Good low-roller times!

Sometimes it is fun partying with the masses. At the very least, those deciding awards should have experience in the category they are choosing.

Per the Twitter conversation: Many months ago, I commented on Chuck's (and other) blogs about how Bill/24k TwitPic numbers show how few people are actually paying attention to their posts. So, don't assume the following is a defense of them.

IF those guys are getting paid for posts (cash, not comps) and the properties are paying thinking they are actually reaching 50k people, then certainly that seems to be a little fraudulent. And in violation of the new FTC laws.

I do think that the hotels realize that when you get something out in magazine/newsletter/rado (or whatever) that has 50,000 viewers, you only expect to hit a small percentage of them.

However... since the dawn of travel publications, comped experiences have been the norm. The expected. You think that an article on Savannah or Santa Barbara in a travel magazine involves someone who schlepped through town like a peon? Hell no. Travel writer junkets are infamous. The local tourism authority makes sure everything is comped and goes very smoothly.

Side Note: Except for a few show tickets -- most of them from our advertisers and expected comps -- we paid for everything out-of-pocket last year.

If the twitter guys get a food comp and tweet it... yawn. The only cost to the restaurant was the actual food cost. A few bucks. But no one can live off of food comps. They don't put a roof over your head. I wouldn't be surprised to find that they charge cash for mentions.

Even in travel publications, paid spots are noted as Promotional Features or similar. Perhaps someone needs to come up with a designation to add to a tweet to show it was paid. PF (for promotional feature) or ST (sponsored tweet) or similar. That would be healthy for the industry.

January 16, 2011 5:48 PM Posted by socalduck

The Alex news was a surprise, not sure how I missed that before. I'm glad I finally got the chance to visit last year, as it really is exceptional. Hunter made a great point about Alex being a "special occasion" restaurant, and not somewhere most people would go on a regular basis. The Las Vegas market has changed, and with the Wynn demographic skewing younger (at least based on my personal observations my last last couple of trips) and relatively more frugal, repositioning the F&B offerings makes good business sense. It does seem odd the way the have handled it, though. Alex Stratta has been a Wynn fixture for years; there is more to this story that we have not heard.