Thirty episodes after his first appearance, Scott Roeben is back! The man behind the Vital Vegas blog shares some of his strong opinions about the region’s post-Covid resurgence.
Scott and Jonathan also take a deep dive into the history of Plaza’s fractious relationship with the Fremont Street Experience – especially regarding construction of “Slotzilla,” the zipline that terminates right on the corner of Main St.
Running the region’s largest distributor of wine and spirits inevitably makes Larry Ruvo a player in Las Vegas. But Larry never rested on his wealth. After his father died from Alzheimer’s Disease (which had been mis-diagnosed), Larry decided to do something about it.
That “something” is the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, a world-class research facility in downtown Las Vegas. In this very special episode, Larry tells that story — including how he talked superstar architect Frank Geary into designing the Center’s unique headquarters.
Larry also recounts coming to Las Vegas as a child, growing up here, and working in his parents’ restaurant, The Venetian. And he tells the REAL story about how that name went from a family restaurant to one of the most famous hotel-casinos in the world.
He’s an Emmy winner, a veteran of more than 40 years making people laugh, and the former resident comic at the Plaza. He is comic legend Louie Anderson! Louie talks about how much he loved playing Plaza’s showroom and how he coped with the past year. And he drops a few hints about his future projects.
Also: Jonathan, Lisa and Gary remember March 18th, 2020 – the day that Plaza and every other hotel/casino in Nevada shut down.
What’s it like to make your living playing cards? Anthony Curtis did it for nearly two decades.
Along the way, he became a publisher of gaming-centric books and a collector of great deals and value in Las Vegas. He shares stories of both counting cards and diving into discounts in this packed episode.
In the early 2000s, nobody was going to East Fremont St. But veteran New York hospitality executive Paul Devitt saw something there and decided to become the area’s nightlife pioneer.
Devitt opened Beauty Bar, a Vegas version of his successful New York bar and music venue. Other bars followed, inspired by Beauty Bar’s success.
While Beauty Bar is gone, Devitt is looking for new Las Vegas opportunities. Which brought him to town. Which inspired Jonathan to invite him on the podcast to talk about those wild early days of East Fremont.
Lawyer, by day, foodie by night. And morning. And afternoon. And pretty much every waking hour. John Curtas has been blogging about the Las Vegas food scene before most people knew there WAS a food scene!
John shares his thoughts about how downtown has improved, details his most memorable Vegas meal ever, and is not so kind when discussing how covering the food scene has now devolved into “influencers” looking for free meals and advertising.
Bonus: John makes up for his not-so-complementary review of Oscar’s 11 years ago by proclaiming it now has the best hamburger in Las Vegas.
Why does one casino property flourish while the one next door flounder? That’s one of the many subjects that Oliver Lovat has tackled in more than two decades of research into the business of Las Vegas and its unique real estate market.
Along the way he’s also become a Vegas historian and expert in how it all gets done. Oliver also shares some insights from his latest project: a deep dive into the history of The Plaza!
For more than 30 years, Steve Cyr has defined and re-defined the job of Las Vegas casino host. He’s still at it, taking high rollers and ‘whales’ on gaming adventures around the world.
He shares how his plan to finish his degree at UNLV then manage the family motel in Salina, Kansas was suddenly derailed by meeting casino legend Michael Gaughan. From there, Steve took casino hosting to levels never considered by the old generation. And he looks ahead to what’s coming in a career and life that are far from over.
Jonathan and Gary spend a fast-paced 40 minutes with Vegas icon Frankie Scinta (pronounced SHIN-tuh), who’s been performing since childhood. For nearly 20 years, Frankie’s been headlining rooms from the Rio to the Sahara… to The Plaza.
Frankie shares great stories from those wild times, gets serious about losing his brother and dealing with the Covid shutdown — and caps it off with a performance on the spoons!
Wanna buy a casino? Do you have one to sell? If so, Michael Parks is your guy. He’s put together some of the biggest casino deals in Las Vegas, Reno and beyond. Michael takes a deep dive into the complex, intriguing world of gaming properties — including the sale of The Las Vegas Club.
Also, Jonathan shares some thoughts about Vegas legend Sheldon Adelson, who died earlier this month.
The “Empresario Extraordinaire” of Las Vegas, Ross Mollison, joins Jonathan, Lisa and Gary. Actually, Ross is the founder of Spiegelworld, the company that brings us “Absinthe,” “Opium” and “Atomic Saloon,” three of the biggest shows on The Strip.
Checking in from New York, Ross updates the status of the shows during the Covid closures. He and Jonathan share stories of ideas that never happened, and ideas that could still happen!
The man who brought professional soccer to Las Vegas joins Jonathan and Lisa to talk about the journey. Brett Lashbrook, owner and GM of Las Vegas Lights F.C., explains how bringing the world’s most popular sport to the world’s entertainment capital was a “no brainer.”
He also discusses the various proposals for upgrading the Lights’ venue, and whether Las Vegas will ever have an MLS team.
Plaza slots manager Mary Myers joints Jonathan, Lisa and Gary to talk about her job — and her past jobs at The Las Vegas Club, the old joint across Main St. from the Plaza. The Las Vegas Club closed three years ago to make room for Circa, which just opened.
Neon Museum CEO Rob McCoy shares stories about the organization dedicated to preserving the beautiful, iconic, striking neon signs that have defined Las Vegas for decades. McCoy explains how the museum came to be, how it continues to grow – and how other neon museums have sprung up with several other cities.
Live from his home in Bisbee, Arizona, The Plaza’s favorite standup comedian, Doug Stanhope, joins Jonathan, Lisa and Gary. Doug played a sold-out Plaza showroom on New Year’s Eve, and we’re all ready to have him back as soon as possible. Gary finally gets an answer about why so many bibles went missing during Doug’s stay.
He reveals the history of his wacky 70s vintage performance wardrobe. And Doug tells the tale of his first job in Las Vegas — and who personally fired him. (Hint: If you live in Nevada, you may have voted for him) And, Doug being Doug, this episode is rated “E” for Explicit.
Jonathan and Lisa talk to Myron Martin, the man who brought a world-class performing arts center to Las Vegas. Myron recounts how he came to Las Vegas to work for Liberace, how he inadvertently insulted the fledgling arts community – and how that comment put him square in the middle of the two-decade effort to build what’s known as The Smith Center.
Jonathan and Gary take a deep dive into Las Vegas history with Dr. David Schwartz of UNLV, who’s focused most of his academic career on the history and psychology of gaming. Dave shares stories from his new book “At the Sands,” including those weeks in the winter of 1960 when The Rat Pack performed by night and shot “Ocean’s Eleven” by day.
There’s also the tale of Carl Cohen – the Sands executive who was regarded as a great boss, but who’s infamous as the man who slugged Frank Sinatra!
Just a short ride from The Plaza is Esther’s Kitchen, in the heart of the Arts District. Among the funky bars and eclectic shops, owner/chef James Trees brings 20 years of fine dining experience to the table for his take on seasonal Italian cuisine.
The Las Vegas native, who worked in some of the best kitchens in the world before coming home, shares his journey with Jonathan, Lisa and Gary — including the tale of being suddenly deported from England!
Brian Christopher is the host/founder/genius behind BC Slots, the YouTube channel that has millions of people watching Brian… play slot machines. In his visit with Jonathan, Lisa and Gary, Brian says he’s as surprised as anyone that he’s able to make a nice living producing videos of him at slot machines all over the country: sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Brian’s grown that simple concept into a huge community that includes weekend gatherings, ‘group pulls’ and supporting charity.
Jonathan and Lisa confess their love for all things South Point, the huge hotel, casino, bowling, movie, rodeo, restaurant, sportsbook, and showroom complex at the very south end of Las Vegas Blvd.
South Point General Manager Ryan Growney, Las Vegas born and bred, shares his journey – which includes Georgetown University (and the late, great John Thompson), the Gaughan family, mergers, moves, doing every job from the front desk to the horse stalls, and now a decade as the property’s GM. It’s a fascinating, fast-moving tale – and our best episode yet!
Jonathan, Gary and Lisa get the lowdown on Fremont St. from the man who knows all: Kelly Fairchild, owner of Las Vegas Walking Tours. Every day, Kelly begins his tour at the Plaza, then takes people on a two-hour guided walk tour that concludes at The Container Park at 7th & Fremont.
In this episode, Kelly shares some local history, how he came to Las Vegas and why the tour begins at the Plaza. There’s even a ghost story!
Hosted by: Jonathan Jossel, Lisa Melmed, Gary Vickery
The gang hears great gangster stories from Jonathan Ullman, President & CEO of The Mob Museum – aka The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement. The museum professional says he knew nothing about the mob before coming to Las Vegas a decade ago. Since then, he’s lead the team that’s made the Mob Museum into one of the most popular attractions in Las Vegas.
Plaza’s Director of Casino Marketing, Esme Gonzalez, joins the gang to share stories from her career — from being a bad**s overnight front desk manager to running the ‘Plaza Rewards’ program and the property’s casino hosts.
Along the way: some very memorable promotions – for very different reasons!
Hosted by: Lisa Melmed
Co-Hosts: Jonathan Jossel, Gary Vickery and Russell Aaron
Scott Roeben, the man behind one of the top Las Vegas blogs, Vital Vegas, is our guest for an extensive conversation about the joys of Downtown, the history of the blog (and Scott), and his hopes for the entire area when it comes to recovering from the shutdown.
Weldon Russell. The godfather of Bingo. Vietnam Veteran. Weldon came to Vegas when he was 14 years old. He has worked along side Steve Wynn, Jackie Gaughan and Jonathan Jossel. Weldon helped introduce Keno to Australia, where he lived for 15 years. His knowledge about the game is unrivaled.
Downtown Las Vegas, 2005. Sam Cherry, developer and head of the City of Las Vegas Planning Commission, sets his sights on building a high rise building in Downtown Las Vegas. Sam shares his story of building Soho Lofts. He also shares his story of the first time meeting Former Mayor Oscar Goodman. It’s a good one.