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July 28, 2014

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Beauty Bar hopes interior makeover works

Recent renovations made in hopes of keeping music fans around after concerts

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April Corbin

Three booths were added inside Beauty Bar and a half-wall dividing the bar into two sections was razed. Owner Paul Devitt hopes the changes will prompt people to spend more time inside the bar.

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A close-up of one of the booths inside Beauty Bar.

What is Beauty Bar?

For most locals the answer is a venue to see local, regional and sometimes national acts live — and not much else. Beauty Bar owner Paul Devitt knows this and is taking steps toward changing that perception.

Following the departure of general manager Joe Garcia, Devitt has been paying special attention to the Vegas outpost of the hipster bar chain, which has locations in six other cities, including San Francisco, New York City and L.A. Devitt has been running the bar and brainstorming ways to increase retention after concerts, which typically take place in the bar's outdoor patio area.

Devitt says Vegas' Beauty Bar has shot itself in the foot by becoming known as just a venue.

"People know Beauty Bar for the live music. They'll come here for a show. Then, they'll go next door to sit down and drink," he says, referring to the adjacent Griffin, as well as Downtown Cocktail Room, located around the corner on Las Vegas Boulevard.

Those three downtown staples have only have divided visitors to Fremont Street East, not brought more, Devitt says. To compete, Beauty Bar needs to be a little more like those bars. It needs to offer room to relax.

To do so, the bar took a brief respite from the downtown nightlife scene last week to renovate its interior. The half-wall dividing the bar into two sections was razed. Also gone is the raised dance floor; in its place are three booths inviting patrons to sit, stay a while.

According to Devitt, this is the full extent of the renovations and no changes are expected for the exterior or patio. Halloween Town frontman Ryan Pardey notes that the bar hopes to renovate the floor when funds are available, because removing the partition has left a patch of bare concrete.

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John Engle performs a rousing rendition of "Cool Change" at Beauty Bar during Karaoke Monday, held weekly.

Pardey will DJ on Wednesdays, says Devitt, adding that the bar will better coordinate the type of live music playing and the type of music spun by DJs. Pardey is also co-hosting the Monday Karaoke Nights at Beauty Bar, a venture he hopes will bring in individuals from outside the local hipster scene.

"Everyone should feel welcome," Pardey says. "It's karaoke. It's the same songs — Foreigner, Journey."

Tuesdays will be reserved for live local music. Devitt says Beauty Bar will rotate through various local bands and feature a resident band from out of town. That band has not yet been booked. Smaller shows will be held inside, reserving the bigger space out back for large acts guaranteed to bring in a larger crowd.

The decision shaves costs on extra security and sound guys needed for the outdoor space, especially helpful for shows with only around 100 attendees. "A show that would bring 300 people in Los Angeles will bring 100 in Vegas," Devitt says.

Having the concerts indoors does mean Beauty Bar will have a cover, but Devitt has a solution for that. "We'll be moving shows up to start at, like, 10 or 11," he says. "The idea is we'll have a cover between 9 and 11. Then, after midnight, it'll be dance music and free."

— Originally published on LasVegasWeekly.com

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