Chinatown Gets a Tiki Bar, a Metal Legend Attends Benefit Dinner and a First Peek at Yardbird

JM 1_ccLocal promoter and consultant Branden Powers has announced plans to open a tiki bar in Chinatown. While he’s known for his work in the nightclub and rave scenes, Powers spent the mid-’90s spinning exotica and lounge music in a tiki lounge called Taboo in San Diego’s Hanalei hotel. Powers says his new Las Vegas space will offer live music and cater to people of all ages, “from hipsters to rockabilly, punkers to rappers.”

“It’s gonna be an escape,” he says. “That’s essentially what makes tiki bars popular. When Don the Beachcomber opened in the ’30s in L.A. it was an escape. You got to leave all your worries behind and you entered this whole tropical Polynesian oasis and sip on your rum drinks and mai tais and zombie punches and piña coladas. It’s just a different atmosphere—a vacation within a vacation.” While Powers won’t reveal the location just yet, he’s promising a March opening.

I’m not sure if it was a coincidence or if it was planned, but it was very cool to see Vinnie Paul walk into Naked City Pizza on Wednesday night during a benefit dinner for Jesse Trowbridge. Paul (for those of you who aren’t heavy metal fans) is the drummer for the hard rock all-star group Hellyeah, and the former drummer for Pantera. Trowbridge is a longtime Naked City employee who was hospitalized recently after suffering a stroke at the age of 24.

Head chef Chris Palmeri, his brother Michael and CutThroat Culinary’s Christian Dolias each created a custom gourmet dish at the tiny pizza place, which is tucked inside the dive bar Moondoggies. They sold them for $30 apiece and raffled off a private catered dinner, with all of the proceeds going towards Trowbridge’s medical bills. Supporters who weren’t able to attend can still lend a hand by making a donation through Go Fund Me.

Finally, I got my first peek inside Yardbird Southern Table & Bar this week. While the Miami import isn’t scheduled to soft open until December 29, with an official grand opening planned for late January, owner John Kunkel gave me the so-called “hardhat” tour (even though my hair would never fit into a hardhat). The huge space, previously home to Pinot Brasserie, already looks amazing, with a front bar opening onto the promenade between the Venetian and the Palazzo, a large casual dining room, and a plush private room where Kunkel hopes to throw whiskey tastings and other cool events. The walls will be adorned with a collection of rare and never before seen photos of film stars, musicians and other celebrities from the 1940’s through the ’90’s shot by cinematic photographer John R Hamilton, including shots of John Wayne, Steve McQueen, Ann-Margret, Johnny Cash, James Taylor and Paul Newman. Kunkel expects the fried chicken to emerge as the restaurant’s signature dish, and is also hoping to wow cocktail connoisseurs with Yardbird’s carved ice program.

I hope to visit the original Yardbird while celebrating the holidays with family in Florida, so I can draw a fair comparison between the two spaces when our ’Bird is up and running.


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