Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 | 2:46 p.m.
Las Vegas, where it’s easy to rock ’n’ roll all night and party every day, may soon be the capital of Kiss.
The iconic glam-rock band is embarking on two themed ventures that could leave a lasting footprint — in the shape of a high-heeled leather demon boot, of course.
Band members on Sunday announced plans to open a Kiss Coffeehouse in Las Vegas next year. It will be the second Kiss java joint in the country (one in Myrtle Beach, S.C., just celebrated its fifth anniversary) and could set the stage for a national chain. It will also piggyback on a Kiss-themed miniature golf course scheduled to open this fall just off the Strip.
“We’re coming to take over Vegas,” said Johnny Rock, owner of the Myrtle Beach shop and one of the Las Vegas location’s developers.
The Las Vegas haunt likely will be modeled after its Southern predecessor, which is nothing like a Starbucks or typical coffee joint. Twenty-foot-tall smoking Kiss boots greet guests, Kiss music blares and patrons gulp beverages out of 100-ounce “guitar sippers” that flash colors and play hard rock. It’s possibly the last place where you’d want to curl up with a good book.
Extending Kiss’ already billion-dollar brand to coffee and putt putt springs from the success of the Myrtle Beach store and reflects what other celebrities are pursuing. For example, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville franchise has grown to include more than 20 restaurants, a hotel and casinos. Caesars Entertainment is transforming a portion of the Flamingo into a Buffett-themed minicasino that will attach to the Margaritaville restaurant that anchors the north corner of the hotel.
In Myrtle Beach, the Kiss Coffeehouse was twice voted “best coffee shop” by residents and tourists. Sunday, fans from around the world gathered to celebrate the business’s fifth birthday with Kiss band members Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer. It was there the musicians announced their plans for Las Vegas.
In a later interview, Rock said only that the coffeehouse would open “soon” and would be in a different location and under different management than the Kiss minigolf course, which is slated to open in November at the Shoppes at Harmon Square at Harmon Avenue and Paradise Road.
If Myrtle Beach is any clue, a best guess would place the Las Vegas coffeehouse on the Strip. The Myrtle Beach location sits in the middle of Broadway at the Beach, an outdoor tourist area dedicated to flashy restaurants, shopping and entertainment. Rock said developers seek high traffic, high visibility tourist destinations.
“Locations in New York City, Orlando, Hollywood, they’re all on our radar,” Rock said. “Las Vegas was the destination we decided to go with first. It’s where the party is.” And indeed, the band is no stranger to Vegas.
The coffeehouse’s website outlines its real estate requirements in more detail: at least 1,200 square feet in a spot with no less than 5 million visitors annually and no other coffee vendors. Room to build a storefront sign that includes giant boots and the Kiss logo is a must. Casinos, amusement parks and stadiums are cited as ideal venues.
As for the menu, the coffeehouse serves the standard lattes, cookies and teas, as well as some specialties, including a dozen flavors of frozen, $6 “rockuccinos.”
Kiss is among the most merchandised bands of all time (along with the Beatles, AC/DC and the Rolling Stones) and has lent its name and members’ likenesses to comic books, condoms and even coffins. In October, Kiss will headline the first “Kiss Kruise,” a five-day themed voyage from Miami to the Bahamas.
Kiss frontman Gene Simmons explained the band’s strategy last year at a Montreal music conference: “It doesn’t matter what it is: Whether it has music, whether it’s a religious symbol, a political symbol, or a politician — everything should be a brand.”