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July 28, 2014

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Shane Monaco talks The Light Group’s newest restaurant

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Steve Marcus

Union Restaurant and Lounge director of operations Shane Monaco

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Like Monaco, mixologist Michael Monrreal honed his skills at other Light Group properties, as well as in a stint at Mina's RN74 in San Francisco, before landing at Union. His cocktail menu is inventive yet approachable, and the Heat of the Moment is one of his top sellers. The cinnamon-sugar rim provides the hook, but it's the mix of Patrón silver, lime juice, passion fruit purée and Fresno chile that creates lasting memories.

When The Light Group opened its sixth Las Vegas restaurant in December, it needed to look no further than its own ranks to find Shane Monaco, who became director of operations for the new Union Restaurant & Lounge at Aria.

A Dana Point, Calif., native (prompting the inevitable question, "Why did you leave?!?"), Monaco starred at Michael Mina's Aqua (now Stonehill Tavern) before moving to Las Vegas to join The Light Group's teams at Fix and Yellowtail. The move to Union, he says, was an easy one.

"At Union, you can get whatever experience that you want to get from this restaurant. You can have a cool, intimate dining experience, or you can go to the bar and have a couple apps, some great cocktails — whatever experience you're looking for is what we're able to offer."

Monaco talks a lot about Union taking restaurants to the next level, and you can see it in the attention paid to "green" dishes — there's even a section on the menu for all-natural steaks.

"The menu is a combination of our other restaurants," he said. "You have the classic steakhouse of Fix and Stack, but you then you get a bit of that Asian flair with our first courses."

And despite The Light Group's reputation as a nightlife leader, it's not only the clubgoing crowd who finds a seat at Union.

"It's very approachable to any demographic," he said.

— Originally published in Las Vegas Magazine

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