Vegas ups the ante with $8.5B CityCenter to win back visitors

Vegas ups the ante with $8.5B CityCenter to win back visitors

LAS VEGAS —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

A 67-acre project located between the Bellagio and the Monte Carlo hotels on the glittering Strip, CityCenter—with its four hotels, two 37-story condominium towers, a retail-and-entertainment district and convention center—promises to reinvent the core of Las Vegas as a “city within the city,” according to press materials. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The project is a joint venture between MGM Mirage and Infinity World Development Corp., a subsidiary of United Arab Emirates-based Dubai World. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Each of the hotels and the 500,000-square-foot retail-and-entertainment area called the Crystals will feature a variety of dining spots, including new-to-Vegas names like Masayoshi Takayama of Masa [3] in New York; Pierre Gagnaire of multiple concepts in Paris and other cities worldwide; and Shawn McClain of Spring [4], Green Zebra [5] and Custom House [6] in Chicago. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

New concepts also are in the works by some of Vegas’ top chefs, including Julian Serrano, Jean-Georges Vongerichten [7], Wolfgang Puck [8], Michael Mina [9], Sirio Maccioni, Todd English [10] and Jean-Philippe Maury [11], as well as multi-concept operators the Light Group [12], Innovative Dining Group [13] and Mastro’s Restaurants LLC [14]. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

However, Las Vegas is still reeling from the year-old recession, and some worry that the sudden influx of more than 17 new restaurants in CityCenter’s rolling opening, planned throughout the month of December, will further weaken the city’s struggling restaurant scene. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The tourism Mecca’s visitor traffic was down 6.8 percent year-to-date in June, according to the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and operators throughout the city are offering deep discounts to lure recession-weary diners. Many also are closing restaurants for one night of the week to cut costs. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Unemployment levels in Las Vegas have hit a record 13.1 percent, and the city has been dubbed the nation’s home foreclosure capital. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

“The last thing we need is 17 more restaurants in the inventory,” said Elizabeth Blau, a Las Vegas restaurant industry veteran. She is a partner with husband chef Kim Canteenwalla in the restaurant Society at the Wynn, and with chef Kerry Simon at the restaurants Simon at Palms Place [15] and Cathouse [16] at the Luxor resort. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Rick Moonen, operator of the restaurant rm in Mandalay Bay [17], however, said he believes CityCenter will bring new diners to Las Vegas. Moonen said his check averages have been down so far this year about 20 percent, but foot traffic is up. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Good operators will survive, he said, adding: “I’m pretty optimistic, at a time when it’s pretty tough to be. But we have to adjust to what people want.” —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Given Las Vegas’ notorious if-we-build-it, they-will-come mindset, it’s no surprise that CityCenter promoters are forecasting that the project’s opening alone will boost tourism by as much as 5 percent. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Speaking from Las Vegas, McClain of the Chicago-based Spring Restaurant Group said: “I sure hope that’s the case. I recently did a walk-through of the project, and it’s just awesome. It’s really different from everything else out here. There’s great energy.” —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Though the operators developing restaurants within CityCenter have offered only sketchy details so far, it appears most of the concepts will be high-end, with a handful of more casual options. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Blau predicted that, as in New York, pricing at even high-end restaurants within CityCenter will probably be under $30 per plate, rather than the $40-plus plates that once were common. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Within the Aria Resort & Casino, a 61-story, 4,004-room property within CityCenter, for example, Takayama plans to create two dining options within one venue. Casual Bar Masa will feature the Japanese cuisine the chef has become known for in New York, while Shaboo will be an exclusive dining experience in which the chef will create the menu each night based on seasonal ingredients. Shaboo is described by CityCenter officials as the most upscale of the project’s dining spots. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

McClain, stepping outside his home market of Chicago for the first time with the opening of Sage in the Aria, is blending the menus of his three existing restaurants. He said pricing at the 165-seat Sage will be about $75 per person. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

“It’ll carry my style, which I brought to the three restaurants in Chicago, but I definitely want it to be something new,” he said. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Serrano, known for his restaurant Picasso at the Bellagio, is scheduled to open an eponymous concept in Aria that will feature the more casual tapas of his native Spain. The restaurant will include a seafood bar with fresh shellfish and ceviches. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Also in Aria will be a steakhouse by Vongerichten dubbed JG Steakhouse. Unlike his Prime steakhouse in the Bellagio, the new venue will borrow flavors from around the world. Guests will be able to customize their steak selections with various rubs, mustards or flavored salts. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Known for his restaurants Jean Georges, Mercer Kitchen and Spice Kitchen in New York, Vongerichten in July opened J&G Steakhouse in Washington, D.C. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The seafood-focused venue in Aria will be American Fish, where Mina plans to offer a sophisticated menu featuring techniques that will include salt-baking and poaching fish in seawater. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Maccioni, operator of Le Cirque and Circo in New York and at the Bellagio, is planning a more casual, classically Italian outlet with a Fellini-esque décor called Sirio. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

And Maury, whose Jean-Philippe Patisserie in the Bellagio is famous for having the world’s largest chocolate fountain, is planning JP Patisserie at Aria, featuring his signature chocolates as well as pastries, sandwiches, crêpes, salads and paninis. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The Light Group, based in Las Vegas, is planning several outlets in Aria, including Union Restaurant & Lounge at the epicenter of the casino floor, as well as the Deuce Lounge, the poolside venue Liquid and a nightclub called Haze. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The group operates a number of restaurants and nightclubs across Las Vegas, including Fix Restaurant & Bar, and Yellowtail Sushi Restaurant & Bar in the Bellagio. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The second-largest hotel planned for CityCenter will be the Vdara, with 1,500 rooms, no gaming and a more international focus. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Martin Heierling, known for his restaurant Sensi in the Bellagio, was named food and beverage director for Vdara. He is planning a three-daypart outlet called Silk Road featuring a menu that will reflect the ancient trade route. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

A third hotel will be the Mandarin Oriental, where French chef Gagnaire will hold court with his Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, the 74-seat restaurant on the 23rd floor. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The menu will feature Gagnaire’s whimsical fusion-focused style of classic French dishes juxtaposed with more modern flavors and textures. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Not scheduled to open until 2010 is the fourth hotel named The Harmon, a 400-room property operated by The Light Group. The Harmon reportedly will include a location of the Asian restaurant Mr. Chow’s, which also has locations in Beverly Hills, Calif., Miami, London, and New York. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

At the core of CityCenter will be the Crystals, where Puck is planning his first traditional French brasserie, which will be the sixth restaurant operated by Puck’s Fine Dining Group in Las Vegas, where it is based. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The Crystals also will include a second location of the Los Angeles restaurant Beso, owned by actress Eva Longoria. The Las Vegas version, scheduled to open New Year’s Eve, also will be called Beso and will feature an upstairs nightclub called Eve. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Todd English developed the menu for Beso in Los Angeles, but a spokesman for Longoria said the Las Vegas version, described as a Latin steakhouse, will have a different chef, who was not named. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Meanwhile, English is planning a gastropub concept in CityCenter, but his spokeswoman Nicole Russo said the name and details have not yet been ironed out. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

The retail center also will include a location of the Los Angeles-based robatayaki concept called Katana, operated by Innovative Dining Group, which also has the Sushi Roku and Boa Steakhouse concepts in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles. —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.

Also in the Crystals will be a location of the high-end seafood-and-steak concept Mastro’s Ocean Club, also found in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Newport Beach, Calif.— [email protected] [18] —With tourism slumping and unemployment at record highs, Las Vegas restaurateurs are pinning both hopes and fears on the scheduled opening in December of the massive $8.5 billion development called CityCenter and its star-studded lineup of new dining venues.