Friday, May 18, 2012 | 4:58 p.m.
Jonathan Segal sets the scene:
“A couple are planning to go out in Vegas. The guy says, ‘Will you watch the game with me?’ The girl turns around and says, ‘OK, I want to go to Heraea at the Palms.’ And the guy says, ‘OK!’ He thinks he’s making the decision, but he’s not!”
This happens a lot.
“Oh, we have done the research, and 75 percent of all household decisions are made by wives or girlfriends,” said Segal, the Britain-based CEO of the One Group. “And 100 percent of guys think they are in control, so women have learned exactly how to make the decisions while making us think we’re making them. This hits exactly to the point of what we’re aiming to do here.”
That is, to design and build a sports bar and restaurant that appeals to everyone — women in particular.
Opening by the end of this year is Heraea at the Palms, taking over the space currently occupied by that hotel’s guacamole and salsa haven, Gardunos. The partnership between the One Group and the Palms was announced May 10 and is an effort to expand the hotel’s reach to women in all of its amenities. Last month, the hotel finished an extensive renovation of its sports book in partnership with Cantor Gaming, and the result is a beautifully conceived gaming center that, before renovation, drew such comments from women as, “It’s all dudes in there!”
“It’s a reinvention of the sports bar,” Segal said, adding that his company is apt to seize an existing concept and reshape it to draw an expanded clientele. The One Group created something of a nightclub vibe at STK at the Cosmopolitan, which is not so obviously a steakhouse until you actually venture inside.
“We’ve looked at the sports bar, and the sports bar is definitely going through a major explosion in America today, most particularly because of the availability of great technology. But one area that is being left out is the dining market in the sports bar,” Segal said. “The One Group is a restaurant operator.”
Also expect late-night music, either piped in over the venue’s sound system or supplied by a DJ set high on a dedicated stage in the restaurant. What does electronic dance music have to do with sports? Segal, as is his custom, is quick to answer.
“The two most long-standing concepts in America today are sports and music,” he said. “If you can blend them together where all the demographics and both sexes feel comfortable, you have an absolute key to success, we believe.”
What about Gardunos? It’s a pretty nice Mexican place. Maybe a little boring, but still ...
“Gardunos is an important meal center, or restaurant center, within the Palms casino,” Segal said. “What Heraea is is a sports-themed restaurant, which is open for lunch and for dinner, and it’s very girl-friendly. It’s the sort of place where girls will feel equally comfortable with guys. It’s going to focus on really great food; it’s not going to be limited to popcorn and chicken wings and all the various traditional dishes one would expect in a sports bar whilst you’re standing and cheering for your team.
“It’s a place where you can go and get a really great meal, three courses if you want it. There’s a great bar scene, there’s a great vibe, a good stage area where we can do live performances, where DJs can play.
“Basically, it’s a combination of all of that with great food in a female-friendly environment where guys and girls will feel equally comfortable.”
Point taken. Lacking specifics of a design model just yet (and construction on the project won’t likely commence for another three months), Palms President Joe Magliarditi does offer some insight as to what the new sports bar/restaurant won’t be.
“But for the audio/visual technology, this is not going to have any of the look and feel of a sports restaurant or sports bar,” said Magliarditi, who met Segal a few years ago when Magliarditi was president of the Hard Rock Hotel and the two became friends within minutes. “One thing I can tell you is it’s not going to be hard. It’s not going to be edgy. It’s going to be very appealing to everyone. It’s not just about what you serve; it’s also how comfortable people feel in the environment. That’s a key thing for us, whether it’s male or female.”
The One Group’s move into a partnership with the new Palms executive team coincides with the announced closing of the Playboy Club, operated by N9NE Group, in June. Magliarditi said that by the end of the year, there will be a few more announcements, likely a quartet, coming from the hotel about upgrades in existing spaces. Magliarditi was asked if the tidal shift means the N9NE Group — which operates N9NE Steakhouse, Nove Italiano, Moon, Ghostbar, Rain and the Palms Pool at the hotel — is being phased out of the property.
“No. The N9NE Group still has some great venues,” Magliarditi said. “The Playboy Club, as you know, that relationship is going to end in June ... and Jonathan is actually friendly with the N9NE Group and has had conversations with the N9NE Group and how they’ll work together. I think they will complement each other.”
The One Group, of course, seeks nothing more than to spread entertainment seedlings across Las Vegas. Already the operator of one of the city’s swankiest steakhouses, STK, Segal’s company is carving its way into the Tropicana by taking over operation of that hotel’s pool and nightclub venues with the opening of Bagatelle Beach & Nightclub on Memorial Day weekend. Long rumored, and not denied by Segal, is a budding partnership with MGM Resorts at the Crazy Horse Paris theater at MGM Grand. Expect a burlesque-themed club in that hotspot.
“I’ve always said if I’m going to have one venue in a city, I might as well have seven venues because, from a corporate allocation standpoint, it’s better for me to hit five cities with 10 venues in each rather than 50 cities with one venue in each.”
If all plans come to fruition, Segal’s company will have a presence in four Vegas hotels, three of them on the Strip.
“As far as Las Vegas is concerned, we’re trying to be very strategic about what we do so that each of our venues is able to drive traffic to the other without necessarily competing with the other, whilst at the same time expanding with different concepts,” he said. “It’s not a case of wanting to have 10 clubs or 15 steakhouses or 20 sports bars.”
At the moment, one sports bar will suffice. Magliarditi is pleased it’s at the Palms.
“I’ll tell you, I’m more than excited about this,” he said. “We worked on this deal for five or six months, or a bit longer, and I think it’s just one of more to come.”