At 29 years old, Jon Gray is already something of a Las Vegas nightlife legend. He worked at George Maloof’s right hand at the Palms during the 2000s, and functioned as the liaison between the hotel, N9NE Group and the celebrities that helped establish the Palms’ brand. In 2010, Maloof appointed Gray general manager of N9NE Group, where he worked for a year and a half before Caesars tapped him to become ‘mayor’ of the Linq project. Vegas Seven sat down with Gray to talk about the Linq after dark.
What insights from your Palms experience carry over to the Linq?
I got a great crash course working for George; he was always very involved in the N9NE Group and the programming, integrating the property with the nightclubs and the restaurants. Bringing the sense of an off-Strip property with such a great local following, we want to bring that to the Linq. We aren’t just going to rest on our laurels and say, “We have 20 million people walking right by our front door, and we have the High Roller that’s 550 feet tall, and we’re at the 50-yard line of the Strip—if we build it they will come.” That’s certainly true, but we want to create reasons for locals to come.
What will be the draw for locals?
Live music is something I’m very passionate about, and I know that a lot of locals are as well. I think that will be a great driver for local traffic, but also for tourists to come out here and see live musicians playing actual instruments. I love the EDM movement, but I think there’s such a void right now in great live acts other than big concerts every once in a while.
Where will we party and listen to live music?
I think you’re going to party at Brooklyn Bowl, which is going to have a concert every night of the week. They have 32 lanes, effectively the VIP tables. You’re right on top of the act. It will be such an alternative to the nightlife scene today in Las Vegas, and really fill a void: a great local hangout to see acts that you can’t see anywhere else in town, as well as some really big names, too. I’ve been trying to balance that mix of cool kids coming, while making sure that it’s not intimidating to the masses that are walking right by. It accommodates 2,200 people and has two balconies—one really big one and then on the third floor they have a VIP balcony that overlooks the whole Linq.
What are the other nightlife and entertainment options?
F.A.M.E. is our Asian restaurant that has a sushi lounge on the second floor; they’re gonna play some really cool, lounge-y, chill-vibe late night. Chayo Cocina has a mechanical bull, and they have a DJ that plays to the bull; it’s just a fun party vibe. The Tilted Kilt will be a pub kind of vibe, with hot girls serving you beer. And you’ve got the Stomping Grape wine bar; that’ll be another chill environment. Flour & Barley is Billy Richardson’s pizza concept with craft beers—a good place to watch the game. And you’ve got the Yard House.
Talk about the Linq event space.
The open outdoor events space out behind the wheel is 19 acres that’s effectively our surface parking lot, and we fully intend to do temporary events back there. Music is a big focus for the Linq, so we’ll have a lot of great music festivals and concerts, but we also want to do some culinary events and fights and other sporting events. … Another component, our central plaza, has a big fountain feature that we can cover, and we can do live performances on that as well. I really want to develop a really ambient programming throughout the Linq. I want it to feel like a cool, active street, and I think that our central plaza lends itself well to do that.
Will there be a DJ-oriented venue?
There’s an opportunity for that behind the Linq, and then also on our Vortex, the very front of our project on top of the old O’Sheas/the new Quad Casino. That right now is effectively a 25,000-square-foot roof deck. We’re still going through the conceptual design of that, but our current thinking is that that will be a great function space that can serve as a cool DJ opportunity, concert opportunity, weddings, private events and seated dinners—just a great outdoor roof-deck space with great views of the Strip. It’s an amazing space.