A legend is born with Circa Resort & Casino in Las Vegas
What a year 2020 has been. Dark clouds seemed to settle over every city, in every state, heck, in every country. But in downtown Las Vegas there shined a silver lining. Circa Resort & Casino opened its doors in October, the first new downtown hotel built from the ground up since 1980, and it brought with it a grateful nod to the past and a hopeful glimpse into the future. In this special story Las Vegas Magazine explores some of the hot spots across Circa. We talk with owner Derek Stevens as he shares three of his favorite spots on the property. We check in with the property’s plush steakhouse, Barry’s Downtown Prime and talk with owner and chef Barry S. Dakake and chef de cuisine, Patrick Hodge. And we get a peek at Stadium Swim. Guests can now make a hotel reservation beginning Dec. 28. With the opening of Circa, it looks like things are definitely looking up.
Q&A: Barry S. Dakake and Patrick Hodge of Barry’s Downtown Prime
What do you admire most about the other?
Dakake: We come from the same style of family core background. He’s a good person; he’s a great person. He loves his family. He loves his job. We’ve been working together 20-something years—brotherly love. We fight, we argue, we laugh, we fight, we argue, we laugh—and we don’t hold grudges, ever.
Hodge: We were brought up the same way, you know, family dinner on Sundays. I kind of feel like when you meet somebody and you have that connection—we were brought up the same way—that it just clicks. From day one, with chef Barry it just clicked. It’s impossible to not dislike chef Barry. His persona, of who he is—he’s just a caring, loving person.
How does it feel to have opened this steakhouse together?
Hodge: It feels gratifying, but it’s also a learning experience for myself. This is probably the fifth or sixth opening that I’ve been a part of. This is the first, hands down, opening that I’ve been a part of from the ground up. This is my true heart and soul going into this. It’s self-gratifying for myself, it really is. (Barry) is the only person that I would’ve done this with. We’re getting older—we need one more run, and this is it. Let’s ride it into the sunset.
Dakake: It’s gratifying as an ownership role, not that I didn’t care before, but now you care times 10. You’re involved as an owner; you have to be on your A-game. You have to be Babe Ruth. The word “honor” is important when you want to be successful. I think the word “kindness” needs to be in there, too. You have to be kind to your guests, but be kind to the employees that work for you, your co-workers. You have to be a family. And me and Patrick—we’re family.
From the menu: Chef Patrick would order the wet-aged, bone-in ribeye cooked medium rare with creamy horseradish and atomic horseradish. For his side, tater tot poutine, and the banana cream pie for dessert.
From the menu: Chef Barry would order the rib cap, cooked mid-rare, lightly charred with bearnaise, creamy horseradish and Rhode Island baked stuffed shrimp. For his side, George’s creamed corn, and the baked Alaska for dessert.
“We want Stadium Swim to be the absolute best place in the city for anyone who enjoys any type of sports to be able to come to the pool, hang out in the sun, enjoy the water, the drinks—be outside, but at the same time be able to enjoy and watch the sport they love the most in the best environment,” says Mike Peña, director of pool operations.
By the numbers:
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Circa | Sports
“One of the things we wanted to do in building the biggest sportsbook is I wanted to do something that was a great ‘wow’ moment for the customer,” says owner Derek Stevens. “We wanted to make sure from a business-model perspective that we really focused in on professional sports bettors—bettors that make large wagers. We wanted to make sure that we addressed all of their needs, but at the same time we felt that we’d be able to address the wants and the desires of a novice sports bettor—for people that are making their first bet. The thought of making your first bet, in your life, in the world’s biggest sportsbook is kinda cool. Our goal is to make sure that when people are in Vegas they have a great sports-watching experience.”
Circa | Sports is the largest sportsbook in the world and can accommodate up to 1,000 fans and seat up to 350 people in stadium-style seating. Sports and betting fans will enjoy the 78-million-pixel, three-story screen displaying multiple games and odds boards. Other cool features include private boxes for groups and the on-site studio where the Vegas Stats and Information Network (VSiN) broadcasts daily.
Breaking the record length of the Longbar at sister property The D, Mega Bar is a behemoth drinking destination, spanning 165 feet with more than 50 seats, flair bartenders, 46 double-stacked televisions and more than 100 beers on tap.
It’s also where you’ll spot Stevens enjoying his drink of choice: Captain Morgan and Diet Coke. “I’ve had one night at the east end, I enjoy the east end,” Stevens says. “I’ve had a couple nights now in mid-central Mega Bar. I’ve had one night on the west end. I’m trying to figure out all the elements. Totally different bartenders from one side to the other. It’s so darn big we’re kinda getting a kick out of where to hang out.”
Enjoy views of the iconic Vegas Vickie neon sign while having handcrafted signature cocktails at the elevated lobby cocktail lounge, Vegas Vicke’s, dedicated to the grand dame. “We always wanted to have some connection to the past,” Stevens says. “So, when we put all this real estate together to build Circa, one of the buildings that we bought was Glitter Gulch. Glitter Gulch is what Vegas Vickie was attached to for 30 years. When we bought it, Vegas Vickie came with the deal. When we demolished the Glitter Gulch, we made sure we took Vegas Vickie down safely and intact. We always thought that Vegas Vickie was so iconic to Las Vegas. We felt that we wanted to take the sign down and evaluate the integrity of the sign and if it was in decent-enough shape—and it was. Now we get to have a little fun by saying, ‘We took Vegas Vickie down, shipped her off to rehab, got her all ready to go and while she was out we got her a knee replacement so her knee actually kicks every now and then.’ We got her all squared up for the next 30 years.”
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