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September 21, 2014

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Joe Magliarditi: ‘We’ve transformed the Palms’

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Sam Morris

Palms President Joe Magliarditi is seen in Heraea, a new restaurant that replaced Garduno’s, on Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

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Palms President Joe Magliarditi is seen in Heraea, a new restaurant that replaced Gardunos, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013.

During one of the VIP dinners last week in the run-up to the opening of Heraea at the Palms, hotel President Joe Magliarditi and The One Group CEO Jonathan Segal leaned on a rail in the upper-level seating area and chatted casually. Below them, diners enjoyed one of the first dinners at the new club, the motto of which is “Where Girls Go to Play.”

That might be, but the guys can certainly feel sated with the sports-restaurant-nightclub design of the new nightspot, which is a partnership between Magliarditi’s hotel and Segal’s entertainment company. Heraea is laid out like a stadium, with multidecked seating that faces an array of brilliantly colored LED screens beaming sports and music videos. Segal insistently describes the restaurant, which replaced the Mexican eatery Gardunos, as “STK with sports,” and that is accurate.

But from the Palms’ perspective, Heraea is the latest upgrade -- and, so far, the most prominent gearing up -- in the hotel’s new direction. Many of the amenities the Palms was known for (including Gardunos, the original sports book, Little Buddha and Island Bar in the middle of the casino) have been taken apart in favor of freshly designed venues. The next highly anticipated opening is Xi Shi, replacing Little Buddha, which is expected to open by spring.

The interview with Magliarditi, who was named hotel president in June 2011:

Johnny Kats: Now that Heraea is open to the public, how do you feel about it? How is it going to fit in with the general strategy of the property’s upgrades?

Joe Magliarditi: I think it’s a definite, great fit not only for the property, but it’s something good for the city. It’s a unique venue. If you really think about it, for a place to go watch sports -- I don’t know if there’s a better place to go watch sports. I think the space is a hybrid space, it’s a restaurant that happens to be a place where you can watch sports, and if there’s no major sporting event you want to watch, it’s a major culinary experience.

J.K.: You can bet on games in there, too. You can lay a wager in Heraea.

J.M.: Yes. Cantor (Gaming) has a counter there, and you can bet and you can see the lines displayed up on the boards.

J.K.: One thing about the design, and this is evident in a more pronounced way at Bagatelle, which The One Group has opened at Tropicana. What The One Group tends to do is set its venues aside from the rest of the property. It looks like Heraea could survive as an entity unto itself, separate from the rest of the casino. It’s rather closed off as you walk over toward it from the casino floor. Do you feel that, and did you have any input on how the design would work with the rest of the casino floor?

J.M.: It’s funny, I’m always a big proponent of having a space that’s more open so it can bleed out into the casino. But I’ve heard some very compelling arguments from The One Group about actually holding that energy in the space. That’s the reason why they closed it off, and that also ties into -- at night, as you know, Heraea and places like STK, where the music is turned up a little bit, we just want to keep that energy in the space. From a structural standpoint, we have the big screens and the stage, and the space behind that really had to be closed off from an A/V standpoint.

I’ll say it’s out of the ordinary for me, but now that I’ve spent some time in the space, I am OK with it. What I will tell you is the Xi Shi space is going to be a lot less contained.

J.K.: After Xi Shi, what is the next big change in the hotel that is going to take most of your attention?

J.M.: We’re really happy with where we are at right now. You know we’ve spent some real capital dollars on the upgrades to the rooms. Heraea is a special, unique space, and we think we’ve reset the bar higher with Social (the center bar that has just reopened after a design upgrade). There are some things we’re working on, but probably inside 30 to 60 days, we’ll have a significant announcement as far as what we’re doing with some of the other spaces.

J.K.: It must be pretty gratifying to see some of your initiatives take hold at the hotel.

J.M.: Quite honestly, it’s been probably my best experience in hospitality. It’s really been an unbelievable team effort, not just with our team at the Palms but with our outside people we’ve had come in, like The One Group and Klai Juba Architects, Rockwell (Group), with the center bar. It really has been a collaborative effort. We really feel like we’ve transformed the property. We have a couple of pieces left, but we think we’ve made a pretty significant step forward.

J.K.: It’s happened pretty quickly.

J.M.: The true day that we started the rooms was the first weekend of August. You look back, it’s really a short amount of time to get the work done on an entire tower, an entire front entrance, a reconfigured slot floor, a brand new center bar, Scarlet (cocktail lounge, next to N9NE Steakhouse), the Chocolat (coffee bar) space, Heraea and an updated buffet, all in that time.

J.K.: Two things I like to talk about: the marquee out on Flamingo Road and the Lounge space. What do you have planned there?

J.M.: You love this topic (laughs). I just want to go on the record: The Lounge is not going to be a bingo parlor. Don’t worry about that anymore. The marquee is definitely on our hit list, presenting the marquee in a different way, especially based on where we are in reference to the Strip being our main local artery for people going to work and coming home from work. We’re in some planning stages. We need to sit with the county to go over our plans, and it’s one of those things that’s in the near future.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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