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October 31, 2014

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Jonathan Fine’s relocation of Rockhouse to the Venetian required global research

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Leila Navidi

Jonathan Fine, owner and founder of Fine Entertainment Management, which owns Rockhouse, sits in the new location at Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013.

Rockhouse Grand Opening at The Venetian

Chaun Thomas and Jon Howes of Chippendales at The Rio attend the Rockhouse grand opening at The Venetian on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas nightlife czar Jonathan Fine has a lifetime of understanding the importance of tourism to the city and has developed businesses that have grown in the city’s ever-changing landscape.

His portfolio boasts a variety of businesses including security companies Sting Surveillance and Sting Alarm; PBR Rock Bar & Grill, the rockin’ Strip-side eatery at Miracle Mile Shops of Planet Hollywood; and his next project at Linq.

He’s racked up an impressive list of awards. In 2005, he was the youngest person named one of the “40 Most Influential People Under 40” in Nevada. The Small Business Administration awarded him Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006. Through his company Fine Entertainment Management, he has donated to many nonprofits in the city, and his charitable contributions exceed more than $500,000 annually.

He opened the ultra-dive bar Rockhouse between the Strip and the former Imperial Palace before the hotel shuttered as part of the new project Linq. It went out in a blaze of glory and relocated to another unexpected location, the Grand Canal Shoppes that link the Venetian and Palazzo.

I asked Jonathan to discuss the closing of the old Rockhouse and its new home:

At midnight, all drinks were $4; at 1 a.m., they fell to $3; by 2 a.m., all drinks slipped to just $2; by 3 a.m., the plummeting price was only $1; and at 4 a.m., if there was anything left and you were still standing, they were free. The bar, known for its outrageous parties, had thrown its last but most epic party.

When Rockhouse closed, it left a void in Las Vegas nightlife. Tourists and partygoers had nowhere to go for early morning beer-pong tournaments, bachelorettes dancing on stripper poles, 100-ounce daiquiris and sassy bartenders swinging from the rafters.

Rockhouse was the place partygoers went for nonstop fun night and day. Tourists weren’t hassled at the door, nobody broke the bank, and everyone was sure to take away lasting memories.

However, all good things must come to an end, and Rockhouse was closed to make way for the new Caesars Entertainment project the Linq. This outdoor shopping and entertainment venue, anchored by the world’s largest observation wheel, is poised to change the landscape of the Strip forever.

Rockhouse at The Venetian

Jonathan Fine, owner and founder of Fine Entertainment Management, which owns Rockhouse, sits in the new location at Grand Canal Shoppes in the Venetian on Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Luckily, Rockhouse wouldn’t disappear for long. Grand Canal Shoppes admired the success of Rockhouse and the traffic it brought. They contacted us and invited Rockhouse to take a top-notch space overlooking the canals and the lights of the Strip.

The biggest challenge was taking the iconic party bar and nightlife venue and replicating the same vibe into a 9,000-square-foot restaurant, bar, club and lounge. I wasn’t sure how to tackle that challenge, so I decided to put my flight miles to good use and do the research needed for such a grand undertaking.

I was off to the nightclubs of Madrid, pubs of London, Meatpacking District in New York, clubs of Miami and hotspots in Los Angeles, Tampa and Kansas City. I was in search of new and inspired ideas.

I traveled, researched, became a man of the people and sacrificed my body, and most importantly my liver, to find fresh concepts and experiences to make the best party bar in Las Vegas the best party bar in the world.

Four months ago, we reopened Rockhouse in our new location. The new venue took the best of the old as a starting point and added improved features. Never forgetting its roots, as the economic alternative to pricy Strip venues, the atmosphere in Rockhouse compares to the hottest spots in town.

It’s simple: Rockhouse offers a round-the-clock, high-energy entertainment, drinking and eating environment for all types of tourists no matter their age. There are the amazing sound and lighting system, top-notch DJs and what are the best tacos on the planet.

The decor of the ultra-dive bar can keep you dizzy, from a custom pool table made by the stars of “Counting Cars” to the wallpaper designs, including an Andy Warhol-style portrait wall created by Balls Marketing. The mechanical bull makes tough guys look weak and hot girls look even sexier. Classic arcade games illuminate bottle-service tables in a fun and funky way.

More than 80 high-definition TVs show every sporting event available, and this is made better with refrigerators at all tables so beer stays cold. For those who’d rather get in on the action, foosball, the classic slap shot bubble hockey, darts and corn hole are available at all times. And if all else fails, grab your friends for a round of beer pong.

And that’s just the daytime. The night will always remain the genius that the original Rockhouse brought to the Strip.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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