Here's this week's installment of "The Strip Sense" in Las Vegas Weekly. Enjoy. -sf
A Rock and a Chinese Place
The Woo family’s move to the Palazzo might not have been the best thing for all
By STEVE FRIESS
Sometime back in the 1990s, an eccentric fellow wanted to eat at a restaurant. He sent his advance team to scope out the place and its various exits, baffling the owners of the fine establishment.
“Is the president coming?” Theresa Woo remembered thinking.
No, no. It was just Sheldon Adelson, then the owner of the Sands Expo Center and the construction site that would become the Venetian. Even then, he was a peculiar presence, running with his bodyguards and concerned about perceived enemies lying in wait to kill him.
To Woo, Adelson and wife Miriam became just another well-known pair of clients at the Mayflower Cuisinier, the go-to spot for upscale Chinese food tucked away in a strip mall at Sahara and Decatur.
Yet as the years went on, the Adelsons and other Las Vegas Sands executives started dreaming of bringing the family-run operation to the Strip. And Rob Goldstein, the president of the Venetian, finally made the Woos an offer they couldn’t refuse: Las Vegas Sands would build them a $6 million space on the second floor of the under-construction Palazzo’s shopping area.
There was a catch, though. A tragic, weird, totally unnecessary catch. According to Woo, Goldstein required the family to close the Mayflower. And so, in January 2008, they did.
Woo Restaurant opened shortly thereafter. It’s beautiful and spacious, all dramatic high ceilings and bamboo and worm-eaten butternut. Oh, and, for most of the year that it has been open, hardly the jammed house the always-busy Mayflower was.
We’ll get back to that in a moment, but first you ought to know that there are few classic Vegas stories more charming than that of the Woo family. Ming See, Theresa’s mom, was 6 when her family fled the Chinese mainland for Hong Kong amid the Communist takeover. She met Henry Woo, had two of their three children and then moved to Vegas to become American citizens. Henry dealt cards; Ming See worked as a dishwasher at the Dunes.
Read the rest HERE