The Victorian era, known for its sentimentality, idealism and modesty, also gave rise to the Belle Époque and saw the gathering momentum of the women’s movement. No surprise, therefore, that sisters Pamela and Christina Dylag would choose the period as the inspiration for the bar they will open at 1218 S. Main St. in the Arts District. Named for the beloved children’s book and slated for a late-January opening, Velveteen Rabbit (VelveteenRabbitLasVegas.blogspot.com) is transforming a forlorn former furniture showroom scarred by fire into the sisters’ whimsical bar and lounge filled with antique and found items, local art and music and, above all, genuine character.
As co-owners, Pamela, 28, and Christina, 25, have spent the better part of two years combing thrift stores for the pieces that will adorn the 1,800-square-foot space, including the mismatched glassware with which they’ll serve affordably priced original and classic cocktails using seasonal produce, as well as craft beer and punch from a chalkboard menu. Although Las Vegas has been home base, their respective post-collegiate travels through Tokyo, India, Nepal and Thailand contribute to the bar’s eclectic, bohemian vibe, which includes a wood plank edifice, a secluded back patio, and chandeliers comprised of repurposed glass bottles and jars hung from wood beams.
Such a concept could easily have slipped into the burgeoning Fremont East entertainment district, but it was the sisters’ personal choice to support the Arts District that led them to this space just south of First Friday staple Casa Don Juan in the hopes of encouraging a walkable neighborhood. “Main Street itself doesn’t already have what we’re trying to contribute,” Christina says. “We’re setting a precedent.”
Flexibility and perseverance have perhaps been this bar’s most important ingredients. Taking advantage of city grants and incentives, such as the urban-lounge license, did require compromise; four gaming machines will live at one end of the bar. But then Velveteen Rabbit also has something those Victorians didn’t worry much about: While some of the fire damage will be incorporated as a natural artistic feature, one more upside of the space is that it comes with a parking lot. “You just have to be focused on what you want,” Pamela says. “And know that it’s going to happen,” answers Christina, completing the sentiment.