L.A. to Vegas: The First Sin City Nightlife Venue to Celebrate 25 Years

[Los Angeles Magazine]

October 22 2022

On Oct. 1 Ciara put on a surprise performance at Drai’s Nightclub playing all of her hits including “Goodies” and “Ride.” (Radis Denphutaraphrechar)

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Welcome to LAMag’s semimonthly update on major restaurant openings, club news, hotel announcements, celebrity and influencer sightings, and everything else you need to know before you venture to Sin City.

Drai’s After Hours Marks a Quarter Century at Cromwell

On Oct. 15, Drai’s After Hours at The Cromwell, one of the original, if not the original casino nightclub on the Las Vegas Strip, marked its milestone 25th anniversary. That’s right: This is the first time a Vegas nightlife venue has reached 25 years of operation. Opened by Victor Drai in 1997, Drai’s After Hours first became known for playing house music, and ultimately transitioned to hip-hop over the years. Of course, the venue has grown to include Drai’s Beachclub and Nightclub, 11 stories high on the rooftop of The Cromwell with beautiful views of the Las Vegas Strip. El Cristiano Ultra Premium Tequila was served during the celebratory anniversary affair. Drai’s After Hours is open from 1 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. Thursday to Sunday by reservation only. In other nightclub news, LIGHT at Mandalay Bay has been closed for good by its operator, Clique Hospitality.

The well-known club originally operated from 2001 to 2007 at Bellagio and was reimagined in 2013 opening at Mandalay, but it never really found its footing in its second go-round. In a statement to LAMag, Clique said, “Clique Hospitality has informed its team that The LIGHT Vegas at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino has permanently closed. Clique is working with employees to reassign them at the company’s 10 Las Vegas destinations.”

Ciara stepped on stage for a surprise performance at Drai’s Nightclub on Oct. 1 ahead of the 25th anniversary of Drai’s After Hours on Oct. 15. (Radis Denphutaraphrechar)

Sahara Rings in 70th Anniversary and $200 million remodel

SAHARA Las Vegas is celebrating a historic 70 years on the Las Vegas Strip with a $200 million remodel. The property is the oldest still-standing original hotel on the famed Strip. We will just forget the few years circa 2014 when the hotel went by the name SLS Las Vegas. Famed for legendary guests and performers like Elvis Presley, Tina Turner, Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor, Cher, Dean Martin and Don Rickles, the hotel is looking to bring back some of that old-school sparkle and glamour.

In this classic photo, Elvis Presley is seen on July 26, 1963 at the Sahara Hotel signing
autographs and mingling with guests. (Las Vegas News Bureau)

On Oct. 7, a 70th-anniversary celebration included a cake presentation and champagne toast inside the property’s AZILO Ultra Lounge before guests attended the Epicurean Charitable Foundation’s MENUS fundraiser at the resort’s AZILO Ultra Pool. The pool deck has been completely dug up and reconfigured with additions including luxury cabanas and bungalows. The $200 million remodel by owner Alex Meruelo and his company, Meruelo Gaming, also includes a remodel of the majority of the hotel’s rooms and an entirely re-designed lobby and check-in area where guests are welcomed by elegant gold marble floors. Additionally, the Sahara now features a porte-cochere fronting the Las Vegas Strip, and several new eateries, including Noodle Den, Chickie & Pete’s, and the soon-to-open Balla Italian Soul. The acclaimed Bazaar Meat by José Andrés remains a staple restaurant at the property. In addition, a theater was built for Channing Tatum’s popular Magic Mike Live show which is drawing quite a crowd to the property.

Awakening is the new residency production at Wynn Las Vegas opening on Nov. 7. Anthony Hopkins will narrate. (Elisabeth Caren)

Wynn Announces New Show Featuring Anthony Hopkins

Wynn Las Vegas has announced their newest show, Awakening, set to debut Nov. 7 and narrated by Academy Award-winner Anthony Hopkins. The show will take over the theater where Le Reve was performed for 15 years before the pandemic shut it down. Awakening is described as “inviting audiences to join the quest of a heroine and her two fellow travelers as they seek to reunite two lost lovers. It comes to life through a combination of dramatic choreography, technology, fantastic creatures, haute couture-inspired fashion, and an original musical score crafted to create a 3D sound effect in a custom-designed 360-degree theater.” The show is conceived and created by Bernie Yuman, Baz Halpin and Michael Curry. Tickets are on sale now. In other residency news, Chicago will return to The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, from Feb. 24 to March 11, followed by Foreigner, also at The Venetian from March 24 to April 8, 2023. For the first time since 2019, Jerry Seinfeld will take the stage at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace for six shows in 2023 on select dates April 14-July 29. And Rod Stewart will return to Caesars Palace in 2023 for 13 shows of his Rod Stewart: The Hits residency presented in partnership with Caesars Entertainment and Live Nation Las Vegas. Stewart will perform select dates May 3 to 15 and Nov. 10–22, 2023.

Actor/director Peter Facinelli poses for photos as he arrives to S Bar Las Vegas on Oct. 14 while
venue publicist Alexandra Lasky of The Influence stands guard. (Shutterstock/Stephen Greathouse)

S Bar Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay plus Two New Food Halls 

Just steps away from the shuttered LIGHT at Mandalay Bay is S Bar Las Vegas, which on Oct. 14 unveiled its new food and drink menu and toasted a new partnership between owner sbe and In the Moment Hospitality. The two companies will collaborate to bring new programming to the venue including a House of Leaves performance troupe show beginning Nov. 4. One standout drink on the menu is the $80 Midas’ Manhattan featuring rye whiskey, Amaro Nonino, orange bitters, Angostura Bitters, topped with gold and served with a ‘luxurious surprise gift.’ Notables in attendance included In The Moment Hospitality partners Jason “Jroc” Craig and Michael Fuller, actor/director Peter Facinelli, former NFL player Shawne Merriman, MMA fighters Cody Garbrandt and Jake Shields, and international DJ and violinist Esther Anaya. Meanwhile, JimmyKimmel’s Comedy Club at The LINQ Promenade will finally re-open after closing down for two and a half years amid the pandemic; a lineup of comedians includes Gina Brillon and Luenell. “Las Vegas is my hometown and live entertainment was hit harder here than any place. It’s time to stop inhaling and get back to laughing,” Kimmel said in a statement to LAMag.

Brunched by an Angel will begin Nov. 12 at Palms Casino Resort where guests will have
the chance to be connected to their deceased loved ones by psychic mediums.
(San Manuel Gaming and Hospitality Authority/Shane Farley)

In other hospitality news, Brunched By An Angel, the first-ever Las Vegas production show that will allow “VIPs [to] dine with the RIPs,” will make its debut at KAOS inside Palms Casino Resort Las Vegas on November 12-13 with additional dates scheduled in December and January. Created by Emmy Award-winning producer Shane Farley, the event is spearheaded by three famous performers who bill themselves as psychic mediums and say they will connect with the spirits of the audience’s loved ones who have died. Each show will begin with a musical set and brunch, followed by a live gallery read whereby the mediums will connect with audience members. Bottomless Mimosas are available for $35 per person. You will need them! If this brunch isn’t for you, ice cream likely is and Salt & Straw has just announced its first Nevada location. Originally opened in Portland, Oregon in 2011, the popular chain now has scattered locations throughout L.A. and is known for its very unique flavors. Its first Nevada scoop shop will open at UnCommons, the mixed-use development opening at Interstate 215 and Durango Drive in early 2023. Co-founder and head ice cream maker Tyler Malek told Eater Vegas he is considering a prime rib flavor. But why?

A rendering of the main bar at Proper Eats, the new food hall slated to open at Aria Resort & Casino in December. (Clique Hospitality/Proper Eats)

Also coming to UnCommons is The Sundry, a new food hall by TableOne Hospitality featuring a lineup of top chefs and rising stars from Las Vegas and California, also opening in early 2023. The Sundry will feature two full-service restaurants and 12 concepts featuring a selection of eats, drinks and sweets. Back on the Strip, Aria Resort & Casino will open a food hall as well, this one called Proper Eats, and it’s slated for a December opening. Clique Hospitality will curate 12 concepts which include four of the company’s own creations, plus several in-demand restaurants and bars. Signing on are the first Seoul Bird outside of London, the only Wexler’s Deli outside of Los Angeles, New York’s breakfast-centric Egghead by TAO Group Hospitality, and Clique’s newly created Temaki, serving fresh handrolls and other modern sushi dishes. On Oct. 20, Clique announced Shalom Y’all mediterranean cuisine, Steve Aoki’s Pizzaoki and Lola’s Burgers have also signed on.

Kendall Jenner celebrated the Nevada launch of her new añejo reserve, Eight Reserve by 818,
at Hakkasan Las Vegas Restaurant & Nightclub on Oct. 6. The supermodel and entrepreneur
enjoyed dinner with friends in the restaurant’s private dining room before making her way to a
stage table in the nightclub. (Sophie Sahara)