Sweet Home Excalibur

Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Barbecue and Beers, which is set to open at Excalibur in August, resolves two debates. First, the forthcoming Excalibur eatery ends the Southern hard rock band’s simmering argument with Neil Young (revisit the lyrics to “Southern Man” and “Sweet Home Alabama”) by showing that, in fact, there’s always demand for Southern men(us), even in Vegas. Second, the felicitous union of second-gen classic rockers and the ever-vibrant Excalibur proves that it’s possible to double-jump a shark.

No doubt inspired by the wild success (cough!) of B.B. King’s Blues Club in The Mirage, the Skynyrd Restaurant will replace the Sherwood Forest Café (which closed May 22) on the casino level next to the race and sports book. The Skynyrd people are also debuting a burger bar concept, American Burgerworks, in the same space.

According to a VH1 Classic interview with Skynyrd singer Johnny Van Zant, the restaurant will feature live music and a memorabilia section comprising items from the band’s legendary (and since-burned-down) Green Cove Springs, Fla. rehearsal cabin, dubbed Hell House because of hot and humid temperatures inside, where the band wrote one of the best-known songs of the early 1970s, “Sweet Home Alabama.” Van Zant says the band hopes to perform at its new restaurant “a couple times a year.”

Can’t wait for next year’s ZZ Tapas inside New York-New York. (That’s a joke.)

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In January 2009, on Interstate 95 near Daytona Beach, Fla., my car blew up in a most spectacular fashion. I was headed north for a weekend of camping, three kids in the car, a canoe on the roof and pulling a small trailer. As I accelerated to merge on to the interstate, I heard a flapping sound that I took to be tie-down straps that had worked loose. When it got louder, I knew it was time to pull over and check the load. When there was an explosion from under the hood and smoke filled the car, I knew the straps weren’t the problem.