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December 22, 2014

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Will Plaza’s much-publicized overhaul pay off?

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Plaza Remodel

A look at a newly refinished Derby room suite at the Plaza Wednesday, June 22, 2011. The Plaza is undergoing a $35 million dollar remodel and plans to open in September. Launch slideshow »

Plaza Hotel & Casino: Before Renovations

Symphony Park is under construction with the Plaza Hotel & Casino looming in the background. Launch slideshow »

It is difficult to recall a resort redevelopment in modern Las Vegas history that has received as much hype as the $35 million job taking place at 1 S. Main Street.

In a stroke of public relations mastery, the Plaza has managed to grab headline after headline as it attempts to build a hip new identity for a formerly spectacularly decrepit property. Not even last year’s Tropicana overhaul drew such interest, largely because those changes took place while everyone was mesmerized by the Cosmo debut. There’s nothing like that competing with the Plaza for attention right now. We’ve had a steady drizzle of Plaza announcements, but what does this all add up to? Will everything work? Let’s break it down.

Oscar Goodman Steak

OK, it’s really just called Oscar’s, but the decision to “license” the ex-Hizzoner’s name for a steakhouse under the iconic glass dome has widely been applauded. Trouble is, it’s a gimmick, and gimmicks don’t often work in fine dining. (See: Switch at Encore.) The news that Carolyn’s husband will work regularly in a glass-walled office near the restaurant’s bar — furnished with his legendary mayoral throne — should increase the prospect that his admirers will see him there often, but it’s still a steakhouse, and steakhouses are usually expensive. Oscar’s would be better served as a mob-themed Italian place because Italian can be both cheap and tasty. LIKELY FAIL.

Rooms by Fontainebleau

Everyone loves that the lowly Plaza swooped in to buy its pretty furnishings from the defunct F’bleau. The vacant blue behemoth standing (forever?) idle at the Strip’s north end is an enduring symbol of the hubris that gripped the city and the humiliation of its downfall. For an underdog to enjoy the spoils as a reward for having been cautious and thrifty, then, is a delight. What’s more, they’ve deployed the trove well, creating sleek rooms and spiffy public spaces. Golden Nugget finally has competition. POETIC-JUSTICE WIN.

Anthony Cools color & putt-putt

David Saxe gets loads of attention as “the” independent Vegas entrepreneur, but Cools tries far more creative and risky ideas. The Paris illusionist’s latest deal, in which he’ll open a Plaza hair salon where guys get trims from scantily clad sexpots and a casino-area nightclub featuring minigolf, shows he’s still thinking new thoughts. Here’s hoping, though, the minigolf lines aren’t so long that it becomes unfun. CREATIVITY WIN.

Sushi, tacos and rosemary spears

The new restaurant lineup really denotes an effort to appeal to locals, even though Firefly and Omelet House didn’t work out. Island Sushi and Grill is a play for both Las Vegans who rave about the place and the Hawaiian tourists who flock to downtown, and Zaba’s is a well-liked local Mexican chain that could use this exposure to go national. Those are fine, but Hash House A Go-Go, with its gigantic portions, two other casino locales and a rosemary tree on every plate, is just a failure of imagination. LOCALS WIN, MOSTLY.

Bottom line

There’s a great reservoir of support for the Plaza. People want a good-news economy story, and so do I. Even the things I have doubts about are interesting. As with all such projects, though, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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  1. I am very much looking forward seing the "new" old Plaza after remodeling. I have set my reservation in place and will spend 1 full day just at the Plaza in a few weeks. The little surcharge compared to other downtown hotels will probably make up for it. So much talk about this project that I am sure it will be packed for the first few months....

    From Switzerland

  2. Honestly hope they make it work.As the steak house
    that could be risky. I agree with the author-An Italian theme restaurant would be better. But if they have good food,good service,keep the prices affordable, and of course Oscar if will be hanging
    out there a lot making himself available for photo
    shots with the tourists and just a"Hello how are you?"it may become an success. Know I well be there
    next month to try it out. Good Luck!

  3. Comment removed by moderator. ALL CAPS

  4. Boris from Switzerland. Nice to hear from your end of the planet again.
    My wife and I will also be staying downtown just after Labor Day. If the Plaza is open for business by then, we'll certainly try out their slots and one of their restaurants.
    Best wishes to the Plaza and may you have great success.

  5. Just reserved three nights (comped!!) for the end of September. Told them I wanted one of the new rooms. I, for one, don't mind the working girls roaming Fremont, makes for good people watching. We'll see how the stay goes, hope they got their plumbing issues fixed with the remodel!!

  6. DTJ said, "Compared to the multi-billion dollar boondoggles on the Strip, this $35 mil for a spruce-up would appear far more measured and sane."

    I could not agree more !

  7. jcorb, i thought all rooms are remodeled....
    I pay 59 dollars for a newly remodele room. because of the extra low dollar conversion it's worth the little surcharge, but of course only if they indeed give me a new room. I don't want to stay in a stinky place with bedbugs....however, I am sure they give away all but newly remodelled rooms...

    From Switzerland

  8. I too also wish them well and plan to check the place out on my next trip to LV.