It is always sad passing by Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina at the Miracle Mile shops at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino because for a short time this was a Trader Vic’s franchise location. The lifespan ran from Fall 2007 to summer 2009, making this one of the shortest lived Vic’s locations. Patrons noted an emphasis on vodka drinks, though we stuck to the classics such as the Mai Tai (made with the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai Concentrate mix) that were wonderful. That’s us on two visits in 2008.
The vast space was sparsely decorated, perhaps as an intentional choice to go for a modern look or perhaps due to a limited decor budget. It definitely didn’t have the same vibe as most of the Trader Vic’s locations I’ve visited, but you could get a Mai Tai to go in a plastic cup thanks to Vegas’ liberal open container laws. Traditionalists griped about the food menu but it got a great review in the Las Vegas Review-Journal in early 2008.
The venture was not successful, due in part to the great recession that started in parallel with the restaurant’s opening. After closing, the restaurant’s parent company Boulevard Bar LLC filed for bankruptcy listing no assets – and liabilities of $14.267 million! The restaurant generated revenue of $1.368 million in 2007, $5.961 million in 2008, and $2.033 million in 2009 according to those filings.
Today’s burgeoning tiki scene in Vegas shows that the most successful ventures of this type are immersive experiential venues such as The Golden Tiki or Frankie’s Tiki Room. But fifteen years ago it is easy to understand the design decisions made to go with a modern design. I guess this shows that the escapist nature of these spaces is timeless and that today there is a lot more interest in exotic cocktails and tiki bars in general.
Las Vegas is always a gamble and sometimes you don’t win.