Derek Stevens is building a new legend
Derek and Greg Stevens have made great strides as Fremont Street casino owners since they bought 34-story downtown property Fitzgeralds, revamped it then reopened it as The D Las Vegas in November 2012. The Detroit-born brothers envisioned a party atmosphere at their property, with the longest bar in Las Vegas, a vintage-style casino on the second floor, flair bartenders and restaurants with names that would be familiar to visitors from their hometown.
“Way back when, 2012 was the year of Downtown Vegas,” says Derek Stevens. “My brother and I wanted to give a tip of the hat to our hometown of Detroit. This was never a Detroit-themed casino in any manner, just a tip of the cap to our original hometown. And then everybody called me ‘D’ so it was easier to say than, ‘Come on over to my place.’”
The signature feature of Stevens’ place is Longbar, which has room for at least 40 stools. “I wanted it to be something that could be seen from the entire pit for table players,” says Stevens. “I wanted there to be enough space to where it was an opportunity for people to go and actually have a social experience, where they have a chance to go meet somebody.”
It’s not unusual for guests to find Stevens holding court there or walking the casino wearing one of his trademark colorful sports jackets and interacting with clientele. The ground-level casino floor is the contemporary one, where red-outfitted female dealers ascend to platforms to dance between table game sessions. Slots are on the opposite side of the room from Longbar, with an Orange Is the New Black machine indicating the modern gaming era the D was born into.
The first floor is also the location of American Coney Island, the Vegas outpost of a Detroit hot dog institution. The D’s Coney Island sold its millionth Coney Dog this summer, marking a milestone for the property. Hotel guests and Fremont visitors can eat in and soak up the old school diner atmosphere or take it outside and watch the “bevertainers” at D Bar demonstrate their flamboyant mixing skills.
Vue Bar is an outdoor escalator ride up from Fremont Street, sharing the second floor with The D’s intimate sports book and its vintage gaming area that contains a Sigma Derby horse racing game as its centerpiece. A showroom to one side hosts Marriage Can Be Murder, Jokesters Comedy Club and Laughternoon. Tucked away in a corner past the indoor escalator is an entry to a handsome dining room with warm, dark décor and a name likely to trigger memories of Italian cuisine for visitors from Detroit familiar with restaurateur Joe Vicari’s chain of trattorias and ristorantes.
“The one in Vegas is definitely a little bit different,” says Stevens. “Joe Vicari is our partner in this particular one, and this is the only one that’s a true Italian steakhouse. That why it’s called ‘Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Steakhouse.’ There’s not one like this in Detroit. This is unique to Vegas.”