Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why 40/40 @ Palazzo Was A Bad Idea


The Review-Journal has broken news today confirming longstanding rumors that Palazzo would buy back the Jay-Z sports bar/restaurant the 40/40 Club and turn it into a sportsbook. This blog claims the deal could be worth $44 million to the music mogul.

I'm going to say something very un-PC here, but somebody should. This wasn't a surprise. The surprise was that anybody thought that a place that elsewhere is known for drawing large numbers of black customers would fit in well in a $2 billion resort like Palazzo where the only minorities they're really aiming to please are Asian whales.

Is that a racist statement? I don't mean it to be. I mean it to be an objective look at an inappropriate pairing between the aesthetic of a resort that envisions itself and markets itself as the lap of luxury and a place known for being popular among rappers and folks who like a good chicken wing. Do you think that Palazzo has ever taken out an ad in Jet or Ebony? Hell to the no! They're busy advertising in Conde Nast Traveler and Forbes.

This isn't the first time there has been a poor marriage of this sort. Avenue Q, the Tony-winning Broadway show, could have been a success in Las Vegas. Just not at the Wynn, which is similarly pursuing the middle-aged upper-crust, not the young urban professionals. In a smaller theater at a resort that draws a more liberal crowd -- the Palms or, even more appropriately, New York-New York -- it could have had a long, successful run. But as Wynn realized much too late, it was "an inside piece of business." Ditto to Spamalot; did you really think the mimosas-and-caviar crowd would have a taste for silly, sardonic British humor?

I know there are other examples. Hans Klok might have...oh, wait. Never mind. He would have failed even if he were at the center of a Cirque show.

Of course, there's one other reason why 40/40 failed: Nobody could find it. It's tucked below the front valet and the most the Palazzo could bother to indicate it by signage was to put out foam board signs on easels in the casino. Hard to sell chicken wings, even to the CEO of China Mobile if he's got a hankering, if nobody knows where you are.


rob said...

that place was a joke. I tried to find the sportsbook there a few weeks ago. My brother asked about the jayz place? I find it pretty hard to believe that jayz will make any money off the deal. Probably more to the story. the palazzo mall area is a disaster also. I think many of those restaurants upstairs will be busto by next year.

gregoryzephyr said...

So the big question left unasked here is, Will any of these casinos take risks any more? Or, will they simply try to give customers more of what they think they want? And so we'll see a decrease in innovation both in terms of shows and venues. Will the only distinguishing characteristic for properties be the type of marble in the bathrooms?


Gregory - I don't know that this is a matter of taking risks. I think it's a matter of matching appropriate programming or products with an appropriate venue. A calculated risk is one thing. An ill-considered risk is another. Ironically, we rarely talk about what would've been the biggest risk -- the decision to open Mystere at Treasure Island. Could there be a less likely pairing than an elegant, abstractionist production at a hotel homage to pirates?

Dan said...

totally unPC, --I LOVE IT!!

Troy from Las Vegas said...

I wanna say something about Danny Gans and Encore here but I will bite my tongue...Which is what I wish Danny Gans would do.

Ok, so if we are gonna be on the un-pc train here, I agree. I went near 40/40 a couple of times but always felt out of place. There was a plethora of large black security guards there and that is sort of daunting for a middle age skinny white guy so I never went in.

Anonymous said...

I think there is a fine line between "Hip" and "Too Black". "Hip", and we skinnnny, White, middle-age guys say we were "smoking stogies with Jay-Z". "Too Black" and we say "I didn't like the vibe, so I didn't go in".
This may be a stretch, but I see many similarities between this and the Moulin Rouge in 1955. In the super competetive market of Las Vegas, even minor errors in presentation can mean failure.

Jeff in OKC

Anonymous said...

You douchebag! You're back to your old hating again? Everyone is sick of the unrelenting crying over your meaningless untrustworthy news. For someone who prides himself on this so called all-important information, you aren't doing anyone a world of good. Your information is inaccurate, insensitive, and foolish. I am ashamed that you are part of our gay community. ONCE AGAIN, SHUT UP AND GET...A...LIFE!!!!!

David Granger said...

It would seem that someone who continuously reads the blog of a writer with whom he/she/it disagrees and is annoyed by is the one who needs to get a life. There are only about 2 million other blogs out there if you don't like this one. This particular post is far from what any reasonable person would consider as hate. It's called opinion. If you don't like it, nobody's forcing you to read it.

Steve, I think you should stop accepting anonymous or unscreened posts. These losers are too craven to put their names to THEIR hate. I mean, at least you've got the guts to put your name and your face to your views. Losers like this should not be allowed to post.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting the feeling this guy who keeps talking about steve and his gayness has a huge crush on steve and is mad that miles has him. just a thought. it's the only reason that i can think of that this sort of anger could be generated. certainly, nobody could possibly be that worked up over that makes no sense at all. -Todd W.

Anonymous said...

what in the world?

steve, if it wasn't for your blog i wouldn't keep up with vegas news 10% as much as i do now. i really enjoy that i can log in every other day or so and read something i can't get anywhere else. you know you do a great job.. keep it up.

agreed that 40/40 was out of place at palazzo. and, to boot, for an establishment like palazzo to have that half-assed basement dwelling they were calling a sports book was a complete joke. it looked more like an airport car rental check-in counter than an actual place to place a sports wager and catch a game.

casey in tulsa.

bootup_hu said...

The gratuitous use of culturally insensitive stereotypes is the only aspect of this post that gives anyone (black or white) reason to take umbrage with this commentary. Specifically, I am referring to the phrases “folks who like a good chicken wing”, “Hell to the no”, “Hard to sell chicken wings”.

When discussing other examples of mismatched pairings along the strip no where did you utilize racially inflammatory language to emphasize your point? You came close with the comment “mimosas-caviar crowd” when referring to the failings of Spamalot; however, this phrase has no direct connotation to one specific racial / ethnic group but rather a class / socio-economic set.

If an Italian themed restaurant were to fail within the same complex, would you use commonly recognized stereotypes to demean Italians?

Pointing out a mismatch in marketing messages is fine. In fact you are not unique in recognizing obvious flaws within the business model; however, the issue many within the black community have with your characterization of the business arrangement is your suggestion that an event / business that attracts large amounts of black customers is not appropriate or will not perform well because “it’s hard to sell chicken wings” even to the CEO of China Mobile.

Why is addressing this ignorance important? As a native Las Vegan, I am deeply protective of the image of inclusiveness that we as a city must project to the world in order to stay culturally relevant in a changing cultural climate? In other words we as a city need to stay on the cutting edge of providing quality entertainment to all people to keep the nearly 40 million visitors increasing over time along with the tax revenue they generate. Your columns and commentary are read by thousands of potential visitors to and investors in the Las Vegas community. Spreading rumors or innuendos that business models dependent on a disproportionate amount of black customers is neither welcome nor viable is unfortunate to say the least. African Americans make up nearly 13% of the population of the United States, which begs the question why don’t we advertise in Ebony or Jet? Further why don’t we compete for conventions such as the “Essence Festival” which adds anywhere from $100 - $200 million to the New Orleans economy annually?

Are we as African Americans in Las Vegas a bit sensitive on this topic? Probably?
Why? My bet is that many of us remember stories from our parents when black folks weren’t welcome inside the strip hotels (off the stage Sammy wasn’t either).

In summary, you are entitled to your opinion and to be politically incorrect, but please recognize that when you direct thinly veiled stereotypical comments at a specific ethnic group we feel it is our duty to correct them because of the wider implications this may have on future businesses focused on our community.

Alex Dixon

Anonymous said...

I stayed at the Palazzo in March for a few days. The 40/40 club was a cool place but the sports book was just one small desk which was not very impressive. I can see them wanting to build a bigger place.

I did notice a lot of young well-dressed black men and women in the resort who were going to the club at night. They did not cause any trouble while I was there but to be honest, I could imagine some discomfort among the owners and guests if they were there in large numbers.