Friends with Benefits: Justin Monell
If you’re looking for a neighborhood bar experience on the Las Vegas Strip, then pay a visit to the newly opened Blvd & Main Taphouse at The Strat—running the joint is general manager Justin Monell, whose work history and personality lends that authentic touch.
While Monell started his career in a completely different field (he was a cellular engineer for Motorola), after moving to Las Vegas 20 years ago he completely switched gears and got back into bartending, something he did a lot of to support himself while in college.
His first gig in town was behind the bar during a graveyard shift at a small neighborhood casino. Eventually he joined one of the biggest locals casino conglomerates, Station Casinos, and worked as a bartender for the company at its properties for nearly 13 years.
After leaving Station Casinos, he stepped into management roles at various neighborhood pubs until he was tapped to help open and run Blvd & Main. “While I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, I’ve never worked on the Strip till now,” Monell said. “Tourism is new and interesting, and my favorite part is meeting all the people, the tourists.” Another favorite part of his job, he said, are the people he works with, the staff.
“I’m always smiling and people are always asking me, ‘How can you always be smiling?’ And my answer to that is if I surround myself with a decent and hardworking staff I should always be smiling, because everyone is doing their job and the place is thriving,” Monell said. And, so far, Blvd & Main is doing just that.
“I’ve never wanted to work in that nightclub environment; it’s not me. I love local spots, taverns,” he said. “I like the local feel, those are my type of people. I‘m a shorts-and-T-shirt-type of guy.” Authentic, indeed.
SkyJump Golden Ale
While the food menu at Blvd & Main offers elevated pub-style fare, the real star of the bar and restaurant is the beer menu. A bonus for guests that want that authentic locals experience is the chance to try out some star brews from Las Vegas Valley breweries including Joseph James, Lovelady, Tenaya Creek and Big Dog’s. A treat for beer lovers is the signature beer made especially for Blvd & Main, the SkyJump Golden Ale. “It’s very clean and refreshing with a ton of flavor for an ale,” Monell said. “This beer has so much body and flavor.”