Welcome, Downtowners, to another long-awaited (and therefore long-winded) installment of Blind Alley, your hint-hint wink-wink source for all the boldfaced BS we can gather. We know it’s been a long time since last we spoke, so let’s get right back to it!
Weird things are happening with certain (ahem) Downtown projects of late. Social media firm Digital Royalty went out with one heck of a new-agey, high-fiving social media bang last month, and it all happened very quickly, leaving employees scrambling. Digital Royalty was preceded to shiny chrome Valhalla by car sharing startup Shift, which made a point of saying that instead of an abrupt departure, the company was wound down deliberately, taking into account the interests of employees. Does that mean everyone drove off into the sunset piloting a Shift car? We’ve been checking Craigslist for fire-sale Smarts and Teslas, but no luck so far.
Thing is, the streak of Downtown closings might not end there. Coterie has closed, Insert Coin(s) has closed (though owner Christopher LaPorte insists that the “videolounge gamebar” has an extra life saved up), and we have it on good authority that no fewer than three Downtown businesses—possibly four—are facing the music this long, hot summer, either in the form of temporary closing or just plain going out of business. If this freaks you out, remember that there’s a Circle of Downtown Life, and it moves us all from one bar to the next.
It’s from the lofty vantage point of a barstool that we keep tabs on far East Fremont and the building next to Atomic Liquors, hoping for chef Ben Vaughn’s new southern restaurant to appear. Sadly, nothing yet. Aw, hushpuppies! Meanwhile, Vaughn is busy keeping his chops in the fry pan; he has the new Southern Kitchen food truck (who knew those were still a thing?), and recently staged a very affordable pop-up dinner at Eat on July 10.
Speaking of Eat, the build-out of chef Natalie Young’s new restaurant Chow—next door to Writer’s Block, across the street from 11th Street Records and practically next door to Ferguson’s Motel, which is officially a thing once again—is chomping along at a rapid pace. From the looks of construction progress last time we peeked, we’d expect an early August opening. (Though we’ve been wrong before: Therapy opened sooner than we thought it would, and Flippin’ Good Burgers is taking much, much longer than we expected.)
The new Harvest & Larder eatery from Corey Nyman and Brian Howard slated for fall at the the old Winfield Manor on Casino Center south of Charleston has supposedly been held up by that nastiest of construction discoveries: asbestos. You son of a bitch, asbetos! You were our favorite flame retardant coating for a long time, but we’ve moved on; why can’t you take the fucking hint? Anyway, we hear the restaurant is still a go, but asbestos abatement is both time consuming and costly. Old buildings? Meh. Now we know why the new Los Angeles-based owners of Art Square have released plans to demolish buildings they own directly behind it along Main Street, and build new retail units from scratch. It is said one of those new buildings may house a Sambalatte coffee roastery and cafe, and we love the smell of roasting beans in the morning. Gooooood morning Downtown!
We love the smell of roasting coffee beans in the morning … and it may be on its way to 18b.
The Arts District at large is a hive of activity of late, with the portion south of Charleston (SoCha, perhaps?) buzzing with a new yoga studio and the relocation of both curated vintage store Exile on Main Street and sister store Cowtown Guitars. The Burlesque Hall of Fame is said to be moving to the neighborhood, into a Main Street-adjacent space that’s several times the size of their current, cozy spot inside Emergency Arts. We’ve heard reports of activity over at Casino Center-and-Charleston “speakeasy” Hawthorne, though we’ve yet to catch anyone in the act of constructing (or de-constructing). And sources say that the Galaxy Street Market project is back on track, though without the help of the people who originate its upscale food-court concept.
But what’s probably the most exciting Arts District news of the moment is the July 14 approval by the Las Vegas Planning Commission of three requests by Arts Factory owner Wes Isbutt. One was to formalize (er, legalize) the use of the Arts Factory patio for the consumption of alcohol. (They had been doing it for years, but evidently the patio was never part of the license. Now it is.) Another approved request was a permit for a 23,114 sq ft mixed-use development, which we imagine was intended to formalize the Arts Factory as a live-work location. And finally, the Planning Commission approved a request to “modify building elevations and develop a pedestrian plaza” at the Arts Factory. All of this points in one direction, namely that the bigger rumor we keep hearing is true.
What rumor, you ask? The one suggesting that University District stalwart Crown & Anchor will be taking over the old Bar + Bistro space. (UPDATE: This is confirmed!) After years of us desperately wanting to that space thrive, we think this just might the thing that does it. For the uninitiated, Crown & Anchor taps an impressive selection of beer (draft, bottles and cans—clap your hands!), plates of tasty British pub food, and the offers an archetype of that affordable, chill, darts-and-billiards sports pub vibe sorely lacking in downtown Las Vegas. And did we say fish and chips? FISH AND CHIPS, MATE. Charcuterie? Bollocks!
Blind Alley is our repository for Downtown rumors and blind items. If you have any tips for authors Chuck Taylor and Z. Case, send them to BlindAlley@DTLV.com.