Las Vegas Sun

September 16, 2019

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John Katsilometes checks on an old pal at Neonopolis before saying farewell

I called to check in on my favorite Neonopolis/Fremont Square tenant, John Del Prado, on Wednesday afternoon to ask how business was going. He answered, "No comment."

Then he talked for 30 minutes.

What more can we say about the owner of Del Prado Jewelers? He continues to struggle but remain open at the moribund Neonopolis project, able to pay his bills only because his loyal clientele has followed him to Fremont Street. The most recent news out of the latent retail center is that developer Rohit Joshi is seeking to change the name of Neonopolis to Fremont Square.

Del Prado, whose business is among just four still operating at Neonopolis (Poker Dome, Galaxy Theatres and Jillian's are the other survivors) does not like that idea. "I think it should be something a whole lot jazzier. It's not even a square," Del Prado said . "I honestly thought Neonopolis was a good name, and we could use a lot more neon over here, but it had such bad publicity."

That Del Prado is still dealing in jewelry at the Fremont Street location is something of a small miracle. He has struggled since moving to the space from his former store on Carson Avenue and Fourth Street in September. He survives month to month in a mall that he says is "very, very empty." At the moment it is not only unclear what the Neonopolis space will be, but who will eventually control the project. Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman is dissatisfied with Joshi's plans for the space and is seeking prospective owners. Del Prado is hoping that new businesses at the Fremont East entertainment district will draw activity to Neonopolis.

But Del Prado says it might take two years for Neonopolis, or Fremont Square, to fulfill its potential . Does he have that kind of time? "I'll be here for the foreseeable future," he says. "I'm still a believer." Among the last, for sure.


Entertainment! Flashes! The Criss Angel/Cirque du Soleil experiment at the Luxor is already showing friction. These two entities are not accustomed to creative collaboration onstage ... "Love" at the Mirage is said to be doing the best business of any Strip production, and I, for one, am positively shocked ... To varying degrees, every tenant in the Steve Wyrick Entertainment Complex at the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood is struggling and business won't get any better when the blond invasion of Hans Klok and Pamela Anderson begins previews on May 24 ... So, it turns out that the Bally's building wrap promoting "The Producers," which I noted Monday was being removed, is actually going up. It was half-applied Saturday and vanished Sunday, but that was because workers struggled to apply the visage during high winds. But the flags flying at the entrance have been taken down because they featured images of former "Producers" performer and prospective 12- Stepper David Hasselhoff ...

The Vegas Diners, which took over the former 5 & Diner locations on West Sahara Avenue and Colonnade Square, are up for sale. Thus, the competition for the best cheesecake in Las Vegas is again open ...

Kelly Clinton is boosting the entertainment scene at Bootlegger Bistro. Her production company, which is, of course, titled Kelly Clinton Productions, is bringing 10 to 15 acts per month to the restaurant on Las Vegas Boulevard South, which is owned by sometimes lounge singer and former Nevada Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt. Clinton, whose significant other is Clint Holmes (who turned 61 Wednesday), consistently pulls together great showcases at the Stirling Club at Turnberry Place, where she is entertainment director ...

In the wake of my recent note about the Pinball Hall of Fame on 3330 E. Tropicana Ave., readers (and note that in using the plural, I mean more than one) have reminded me of another niche business in the same shopping center: Cosmic Comics, which buys and sells comic books and only comic books. Now that's a party ...

Vegas moment: On Tuesday, while exiting Interstate 15 to Charleston Boulevard, I halted at the stoplight behind a Nevada Highway Patrol unit (or, if you will, "car"). On the side of the road to our left was a homeless man holding a sign indicating as much. As the light turned green the officer rolled down his window and tossed the man a bottle of water. Very cool gesture ...

Las Vegas gallery owner Todd VonBastiaans complains about not getting his name in this column, so there you go ...

Lastly, it is with pangs of nostalgia that I inform you this will be my last Fabulous Las Vegas column. After 8 1/2 years at the Sun, the last year and a half of which have been spent writing this freewheeling column, I am leaving the paper for parts uncharted. Next week I assume a role as writer-at-large for Greenspun Media Group, writing primarily for Las Vegas Life, Las Vegas Weekly and the company's new Internet media operation. It's a new challenge I am eager to tackle, but not before expressing my gratitude to all the readers, colleagues and contacts who have made my years at the Sun so rewarding. I will not soon forget you, and I will not be a stranger, either. You can count on that.

I depart with an appropriate vanity plate, one I spotted months ago on a blue Nissan 350Z: SAE LV.