Thursday, Jan. 22, 2009 | 2 a.m.
IF YOU GO
What: Stoney’s North Forty
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays
Where: Santa Fe Station
Admission: $5 locals, $10 tourists
Information: 435-2855 or visit www.stoneysnorthforty.com
Also: Stoney’s Rockin’ Country, 9155 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Beyond the Sun
When the doors opened at Stoney’s North Forty on New Year’s Eve, hundreds of people surged into the new country and western club inside Santa Fe Station.
It was as if they couldn’t wait for the bad news of the old year to become ancient history and were eager to begin a new year with high hopes.
With so many businesses closing across the Las Vegas Valley, opening one may seem a bit risky, but Stoney Gray is confident.
“I think it’s a perfect time. I don’t think we could have timed it any better,” he says. “When we opened up on New Year’s Eve, we were sold out.”
The club has been full ever since.
Part of the reason for the immediate success is inexpensive drinks and an admission charge of $5 for locals, Gray says.
“Down on the Strip it’s anywhere from $20 to $100,” he says. “Our beer is a fraction of what everybody else charges. We’re a working person’s bar geared to the locals.”
The formula works at his Stoney’s Rockin’ Country at 9155 Las Vegas Blvd. South — which opened in fall 2007 and became a hot spot for country music fans. From the turnout at the North Forty since its Dec. 31 opening, it seems his second venue is destined for the same success.
Gray is so confident that he is drawing up plans for a third Stoney’s that will open in another part of the valley in a few months.
Hard times are driving the success of his C&W clubs, he says.
“When you start having problems in society, when you start having economic trouble, family values become more important, and country music is hard-core family values,” Gray says. “As long as families are strong, country music will be strong and continue to grow. This is a perfect time for country-western bars.”
Despite their similarities, the two clubs are different in a lot of ways. Both venues have wooden walls, sawdust-covered floors, pool tables and mechanical bulls.
Rockin’ Country is 21,000 square feet and features an arcade and miniature bowling. It has a stage and live music as well as DJs.
North Forty is about half the size at 10,000 square feet, doesn’t have the arcade or bowling and is strictly DJ.
“We decided to go with DJs because the folks at Santa Fe have a nice showroom, the Chrome, and they do a lot of country-western acts,” Gray says. “It made sense for us to let them continue doing acts where they’ve been very successful, and we’ll do our thing. We’ll have the pre- and post-parties for their concerts.”
Gray says he downsized the North Forty for a reason.
“We hit the size right on the head,” he says. “It’s perfect for this part of town. I think it would be tough filling up a 21,000-square-foot building here.”
North Forty’s capacity is 620 people.
Gray’s not saying much about the third Stoney’s, but the type of country music may be different from that of the other venues.
“Each venue will have its own musical identity,” Gray says. “We start out the night at each property with pure country music — your Merle Haggards and George Joneses. And as the night gets older the music gets younger. We may change from Merle to, say, Kid Rock.
“The property dictates the kind of music. If the next club is in an area is skewed to more country, we’ll play more country. If it’s skewed to more rock, then we’ll lean toward the rock side.”
Gray chose the Santa Fe for his second venture because he is familiar with the area and knew country music was popular there. “I live in the far northwest, so I had a good feel for the area,” he says.
He said about 25 percent of his customers at Stoney’s Rockin’ Country were traveling to Las Vegas Boulevard South from the northwest, so he had a core of potential customers when he opened the North Forty.
“People in this area love Stoney’s Rockin’ Country but they said it was so far — and when gas was nearing $5 a gallon it was tough for them to make the trip,” Gray says. “Even if the price goes down people are more conscious of wasteful spending.”
Chris Fiumara, general manager of Santa Fe Station, says North Forty is a perfect mix for the resort.
“It really rounds out our entertainment lineup,” he says. “Because of the current economy, it’s affordable — a $5 cover, all-you-can-drink beer specials.
“It’s a low-key, unassuming club — not like Jet or other clubs on the Strip. It’s very comfortable.”