Wolfgang Puck Hits Las Vegas Record

Twenty years ago, Wolfgang Puck used to go home at night to a small apartment rented near the strip with a bottle of red wine to help nurse his pain.

A week after his first Spago restaurant opened outside Los Angeles, Puck wondered if the naysayers were actually right.

Puck’s original spago was a dining-out hotspot in Beverly Hills that attracted movie stars and sports celebrities with items such as smoked salmon pizza, butanut squash ravioli, and Wiener schnitzel.

Some of Puck’s contemporaries told him that a fine restaurant could succeed in Las Vegas, which has a 99-cent shrimp cocktail, a $2 steak dinner and a $9.99 buffet.

Spago Las Vegas, in its newly opened forum shop at Caesars Palace during its first week of business, has attracted only rodeo fans who quickly turn a blind eye when they can’t find barbecue ribs or pork and beans.

After a while, the late-night holiday began. 바카라

“We’ve been busy ever since,” Puck said at Spago on Tuesday, 20 years until the restaurant opened.

The spago is still in its original location near the junction between Forum Shops and Cesar Palace. The operators of the Simon Property Group, which created the Forum Shops, were confident that the puck would be successful in finding the spago inside the mall.

The 220-seat restaurant has undergone three interior design renovations and numerous menu changes since 1992.

Puck regarded the 20-year milestone as a significant event, because the endless concept of restaurants came and went along the strip while Spago remained in true form.

“It’s a combination of everything. You have to change and evolve with the times, and we have done that,” Puck said. “It’s also food and people.”

Puck, 63, is credited with pioneering changes in how the casino industry viewed restaurant components. When Spago arrived, other restaurants owned and operated by celebrity chefs flourished.

Today, many restaurant magazines consider Las Vegas one of the best cities in the U.S. when it comes to restaurant offerings.

Puck was inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame in 2005 by the American Gaming Association for changes that resulted in him dining at a casino. He was the first celebrity chef to be honored by the organization.

“We’ve shown the game industry that restaurants are profitable,” Puck said.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Spago is offering a special holiday menu at 1992 prices, starting from the restaurant’s opening day until Friday, with a selection of dishes. Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman presented Puck with the city’s key Tuesday.

Puck, which recently opened Wolfgang Puck Stakes in his 23rd fine dining room, MGM Grand Detroit, has grown with the casino industry.

In addition to Spago, he also runs CUT Las Vegas in Las Vegas at Palazzo, Postrio at The Venetian, Tretoria del Lupo at Mandalay Bay, Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina at Crystal, and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill at MGM Grand.

Puck also operates two restaurants that offer swimming pool space in The Venetian and Palazzo.

Puck’s company, The Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group, rents space in hotel casinos and operates restaurants.

David Robbins, the managing partner of the Dining Group, which oversees the companies, was the original head chef of Puck’s Spago. He thought he would spend a year or two in Las Vegas and then return home to San Francisco. Today, he oversees about 700 employees.

Robbins said, “It’s amazing to realize that all our restaurants are within five miles of each other.”

Puck said the restaurant business can be tricky. One concept that has been popular in Santa Monica, California, since 1983, the Chinois failed when it was put on the expansion stage of its Forum Shops. Meanwhile, the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill is the most lucrative of his Las Vegas neighborhoods.

“I know there’s more we can do,” Puck said. “I want to celebrate 20 more years. Maybe my kids will run this place.”

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