Trader Vic’s Las Vegas

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.

2 Replies to “Trader Vic’s Las Vegas”

  1. I have a lot of history with Trader Vic’s, and I was talking to manager on the strip when the restaurant was still open… I asked him why the Indonesian rack of lamb was not on the menu. The Fire Department in Las Vegas at the time would not allow them to install the same unique ovens they’ve used in their other restaurants… So they were not able to serve many of their iconic dishes… I don’t know if in the end if that was the reason they had the clothes, but the food was definitely not up to par with the other Trader Vic’s locations. I think the last one still open somewhat near Las Vegas is the one in Oakland California that I have been to a few times. You probably know you can still buy Trader Vic’s ingredients online as well as their iconic mai tai glasses.

  2. Yes it in the West there’s the Emeryville location with a full menu (plus the San Jose Airport and forthcoming Oakland airport locations).

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