Monday, Nov. 29, 1999 | 11:03 a.m.
The Las Vegas Strip's Official All Star Cafe, a sports-themed restaurant developed by Andre Agassi and five athlete partners, will close in January.
The cafe, owned by the same company that owns Planet Hollywood, has about 120 people on staff in Las Vegas and has been one of the anchors of the Showcase mall on the Strip near the MGM Grand since the property opened three years ago.
A spokeswoman for Planet Hollywood International Inc. in Orlando, Fla., confirmed the closure, but referred all other questions to an official who could not be reached for comment. The local manager of the cafe also could not be reached.
Barry Fieldman, a Showcase executive, was in meetings with restaurant officials this morning.
The status of the 36,000-square-foot Official All Star Cafe has been in limbo since the parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Oct. 12.
Planet Hollywood today reconfirmed its plans to keep open the Las Vegas Planet Hollywood property in the Forum Shops at Caesars.
Planet Hollywood is hoping to reverse its financial tailspin with the infusion of $10 million from Saudi Arabian billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal's Kingdom Holdings. The prince's investment raised his stake in the chain from 16 percent to 20 percent according to published reports.
In conjunction with the prince's investment, the company announced plans to open a new Planet Hollywood restaurant in Ammad, Jordan, which is attempting to develop a tourism industry. In 1998, Kingdom Holdings said it planned to open 34 new Planet Hollywood restaurants in 23 countries the Middle East and Europe, including 11 by the end of this year.
The Official All Star Cafe franchise, like other themed restaurants, have struggled in the past two years because of their failure to lure repeat business. The most successful themed restaurant properties are in resort cities where a continuously changing audience minimizes the need for repeat customers.
Even though a variety of themed restaurants operate in Las Vegas -- the Hard Rock Cafe, Motown Cafe, the Rainforest Cafe, Dive! and the Harley-Davidson Las Vegas Cafe among them -- the track record isn't completely successful. The Country Star American Music Grill, also on the Strip, closed its doors earlier this year.
Agassi, a Las Vegas tennis pro currently ranked No. 1 in the world, was joined by Wayne Gretzky, Ken Griffey Jr., Joe Montana, Shaquille O'Neal and Monica Seles to develop the Official All Star Cafe in April 1996.
All of the athletes were on hand in Las Vegas when the restaurant opened its doors in December of that year, at the time the third All Star Cafe franchise in the world with other establishments in New York City's Times Square and in Cancun, Mexico.
On display at the local restaurant are memorabilia from historic events in Agassi's career and other Las Vegas sports events.
The three-tiered restaurant also has 60 video monitors for watching sports events, booths shaped like baseball mitts and a large scoreboard centerpiece.