Since leaving New York’s famed Le Cirque in 1992, Daniel Boulud has amassed a global dining empire that currently spans 10 cities worldwide, with nine concepts in the Big Apple alone. Yet sustained success in Las Vegas has eluded him. In 2010, Boulud closed his Wynn Las Vegas restaurant Daniel Boulud Brasserie after five years, only to return to town in 2014 to open DB Brasserie in The Venetian. But now, following a year of rumors, he will close that space as well after service on January 8. Vegas Seven spoke to Boulud recently about his feelings on the closure, his time in Las Vegas and his future in our town.
What’s your overall feeling about closing the second DB Brasserie?
We tried. I had a very good relationship with [Venetian owners Las Vegas Sands Corp.] in Singapore. And they always wanted me to do something in Vegas. And we tried. But I don’t think it was the right concept. I don’t think we agreed on the right concept. … I wanted to be more casual. That was not what the hotel wanted. But I can only blame myself for not having done what I wanted to do originally: much more casual, much lower price point, much more French-American in a way. But I have a great relationship with The Venetian. I respect them. In Singapore, we’re doing very well for them, and they’re doing well for us.
DB Brasserie will close. But DB is not gone yet. I’m still going to go back there to do certain charities and things that matter to the community there that, of course, I’m still connected to. – Daniel Boulud
How do you feel about the restaurant’s run?
It was fine. But at the same time, maybe they wanted more out of that piece of real estate. If it was at the end of the hotel, in a space where nobody goes except for the restaurant there, it would have been different.
Do you think the closing had more to do with the city as a whole, timing or both?
I don’t believe it’s any of that. We care about what we do. We put the resources into it to do the job right. We care about service, and being approachable and casual. But we’re not in the entertainment business. Between 2000 and 2016, a lot of restaurants have turned into sort of nightclub restaurants. It’s a whole different gimmick today to entertain people than it used to be in the past. And I believe that’s concerning to every restaurateur there. Because they don’t want to turn their restaurant into a nightclub after 10 o’clock at night. But those places attract people for different reasons.
Is that the future of dining in Las Vegas?
I hope not [laughing]. But it is a fact that it takes 10 regular restaurants to do the revenue of one large club when they’re open only three days a week or four days a week. I don’t think we’ll go back to Vegas. I’ll concentrate on something different. But I’m very happy for my colleagues who are very successful there. But everybody has to adjust to what Vegas needs and what the guests call for. There are a lot of restaurants in Las Vegas, for sure. A lot of restaurants and a lot of people complaining. [Laughing] And I don’t want to be one of them.
Have you had your fill of Las Vegas?
I’ll tell you, this is not my last trip to Vegas, that’s for sure. I would love for something very interesting to come along. But at the same time I’m not desperate to try to do something for the sake of doing something. I love Las Vegas. I love my time there. I love the people who work there. And I care about the people who work for me. Vegas is maybe the most unique town in the world when it comes to food. Because you have talent from all over the world. And it’s certainly the biggest representation of cuisine and concept and entertainment and all that. It’s really one of a kind. DB Brasserie will close. But db is not gone yet. I’m still going to go back there to do certain charities and things that matter to the community there that, of course, I’m still connected to.
What has been your favorite experience in Las Vegas?
What I love about Las Vegas is that in every hotel there is a family of chefs. I’ve always been very proud of being part of The Venetian family and part of the Wynn family. And at Caesars, Aria and MGM, they have families of their own chefs. This is what makes Las Vegas unique: The hotel groups embrace and support a family of talent.