Thursday, Dec. 12, 1996 | 11:59 a.m.
The stars come out Saturday to celebrate the opening of the sports-themed Official All Star Cafe in the new Showcase Mall on the Las Vegas Strip.
The private grand opening celebration begins at 8 p.m. and will be hosted by partners Andre Agassi, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey Jr., Joe Montana, Shaquille O'Neal and Monica Seles. All are expected to put in appearances and be joined by other stars of the sports and entertainment worlds.
"Who's going to be there? I can't really say, but the biggest names in sports and entertainment are on the guest list," one restaurant official teased.
This is All Star's third restaurant after locations in New York City's Times Square and Cancun, Mexico. Future establishments are expected in Atlantic City, N.J., Myrtle Beach, Fla., Los Angeles, Orlando and Melbourne, Australia.
"Las Vegas is an incredible market. It has more than 1 million residents and 25 (million) to 30 million tourists coming in annually. It's second only to -- or maybe it even ties -- Orlando and we're trying to capture on that kind of market," said Lee Knowlton, regional director for Planet Hollywood Inc., which also owns the Official All Star Cafe.
Developers wouldn't disclose how much is being invested in the cafe.
Las Vegan Agassi's involvement may have something to do with the location, he acknowledged.
"We're anticipating him being able to stop by and grab lunch or dinner whenever he would like to. The fact he lives in Las Vegas is a big plus," Knowlton said.
One room of the restaurant will honor the tennis star by displaying clothing and other items he wore during historic events in his career.
Themed restaurants are becoming increasingly popular on both the Las Vegas and national scenes. The Hard Rock Cafe, the Country Star American Music Grill and Planet Hollywood have opened in Southern Nevada in the last five years.
And, the Motown Cafe broke ground last month for its new 28,000-square-foot themed restaurant in the New York-New York hotel-casino across the street from The Showcase.
R.P. Sylvia, general manager of the nearby Country Star American Music Grill on Las Vegas Boulevard South at Harmon Avenue, sees another themed restaurant on the south end of the Strip as a complement rather than competition.
"It's more an additive to what's going on here on The Strip. There's a lot of talk that in addition to the All Star Cafe, Harley Davidson is going to open a themed restaurant down here. To me it almost makes a small restaurant row in this area of town," he said.
Indications are All Star won't be the last themed restaurant to locate here. Knowlton said Planet Hollywood Inc. plans to open a Marvel Mania comic book-themed cafe in Las Vegas as early as June. He didn't disclose a location.
The themed restaurant trend is hot as guests expect more than great food and top-notch service with their dining experience, said Knowlton.
"They want a lot of other activities -- it makes it more exciting to dine there," he said.
The 36,000-square-foot Official All Star Cafe is billed as more than a typical sports bar. It will provide added excitement by allowing guests to experience the "visceral sense of being at the game," according to a press release.
Fans will view videos of the greatest plays in sports history as well as live sporting events on more than 60 video monitors positioned around the restaurant. The 605-seat, trilevel restaurant will feature cantilevered light supports, mezzanine skybox booths and a center court arena-sized scoreboard to keep guests updated on all the latest sports scores.
Bars will be located on both the upper and lower decks of the restaurant. Lining the sidelines are booths shaped like giant baseball mitts.
Memorabilia reminiscent of sporting greats like Oscar de la Hoya to Joe DiMaggio will be on display and two merchandise stores will enable fans to outfit themselves in Official All Star Cafe clothing from tennis polos to football jerseys.
The cafe offers food selection from burgers to steak. A selection of 11 half-pound burgers range in price from $8.50 to $9.95. Main courses include chicken, pasta, meatloaf and T-bone steak and range in price from $10.95 to $18.95.
The cafe opens to the public Sunday at 11 a.m. Thereafter, hours will be 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. daily for the restaurant and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. for the bar. On Sundays, it will open at 10 a.m. for the football crowd.
The cafe is the first business to open at The Showcase Mall, located on Las Vegas Boulevard in front of the MGM Grand hotel-casino. The mall, developed by Makena Development Corp. and Forest City Enterprises, also will feature Coca-Cola Oasis, Sega Enterprises and an eight-plex United Artists movie theater.