Casa Don Joe Biden

The Veep sweeps into town to eat tacos and talk minimum wage

C153A90C-42BA-4452-8BA9-67577C64EC84If you somehow didn’t notice the police cars, trucks and buses on Main Street, the gentlemen at the door of Casa Don Juan might have alerted you to something unusual Monday afternoon. Three Secret Service, two Metro cops and a guy in a white shirt with a nametag indicating what state he was from, like a casino worker, without the “Hi I’m ___!” but with a gun.

Our bags were checked, we were wanded and one of the earpiece-and-suit guys opened the door and told us to enjoy ourselves. To our left, the room was being prepared for a roundtable discussion about raising the minimum wage—a discussion to be led by Vice President Joe Biden, but presently guarded by a cordon of Secret Service two deep and eight wide.

We secured a corner booth in the other dining room with plenty of space if the Veep wanted to join us for Tequila shots. There was also an excellent view of the street action, from the officer posted on the roof of the neighboring furniture store to the procession of Secret Service folk to the progression of street barricades, as well as watching the K-9s sniff everything within range.

The room thinned out as the lunch crowd dropped off. A couple sitting at one of the few still-populated tables looked incredulous, wondering, “They do all of this for the mayor?” which was apparently what the suits were telling those who asked.

With Biden’s scheduled arrival a few minutes away, I made a run for the ladies’ room, barreling through the forbidden zone, a dining room already filled with a foreground of press cameras and a background of well-dressed families. The hallway to the bathroom was lined with two sets of printout signs: One pointing toward the dining room reading “EVENT” and the other toward the backdoor indicating “MOTORCADE.” Did all of the media gathered out front with their telephotos and their news vans know this?

Outside, more cars, trucks with odd lights, a guy in chef’s whites getting stopped and quizzed before being allowed to enter the kitchen for his shift. Still nothing. Traffic shut down from Charleston Boulevard to Colorado Street. Still nothing. We heard applause from the other room: Secret entrance used, media tricked.

Biden met with a mixture of local politicians and businesspeople: Congressman Stephen Horsford and Mayor Carolyn Goodman (who recently signed a resolution in support of raising the minimum wage), as well as Casa Don Juan general manager Raul Gil, Lindo Michoacan owner Jaivier Barajas, and Louise Mendoza, owner of Keep It Clean janitorial service. Biden pointed out that Nevada has more than a quarter-million minimum-wage workers, and salary increases for those workers would be put right back into the economy.

Las Vegas was the first stop on a tour of several western states for the VP, including California, Oregon and Washington State. He was scheduled to fly to Los Angeles Monday night for a fundraiser and then to participate in another minimum-wage roundtable with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.

In the more everyday world of the wage-earner, a waitress and a Secret Service officer hashed over some details, probably involving shift change and a rather large lunch bill for a lot of people in suits. Alas, we didn’t meet Joe Biden, but we did at least get to see a limo with presidential fender flags parked in front of a bail bonds joint. Something to tell the grandkids about.

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