Riviera

In January 2007, Riv announed she was "keeping up with the Jones'" with their buffet. It consists of five themed stations: Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Bar-B-Que and "Made In America." While the menu changes daily, action stations feature skilled artisans, preparing favorite dishes. For breakfast, omelets, made-to- order, are featured and, of course, the traditional carving stations offer roast turkey, top round of beef and honey-baked ham.

"Everything is upscale, including the menus," reports Vice President of Food & Beverage Lloyd Wentzell. "The Riviera has gone all out to bring food fans some of the best entrees on The Strip. Besides the many beef and chicken dishes at our American, Mexican, Barbecue and Italian stations, our Chinese area offers various Lo Mein plates, daily specialty plates, as well as the favorite cha shu pao, spring rolls, mini-egg rolls, vegetable stir fry and pork pot stickers. Sugar free desserts are also offered." The Riviera World's Fare Buffet is open seven days a week for Breakfast (M-F, 6 a.m. - 11 a.m.; Sat. & Sun. 7 a.m. - 10 a.m.), Lunch (M-F, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.) and Dinner (4 p.m. - 10 p.m.) with a special champagne brunch on Saturdays and Sundays (10 a.m. - 3 p.m.).

A crowd gathered. There was commotion. Security officers appeared out of nowhere. A bystander was overheard commenting; "You never saw so many fingers point in one direction at one time!" At approximately 1:40 p.m., on Tuesday, January 23, Wheel Of Fortune symbols lined up on an IGT statewide link progressive jackpot of $682,370.93, at the venerable Riviera Hotel and Casino. Who was the lucky winner? As is so often the case with very large jackpot winners, the gentleman in sunglasses, sipping bottled water, declined publicity. A Riviera spokesperson explained, "Rarely will you find an individual winning over half a million dollars on a three quarter slot machine wanting their picture taken, especially for the home papers. All of a sudden aunts, uncles, friends and neighbors come 'out of the woodwork.'"

Also in January of 2007, it was announced that The ultra-lounge trend is thriving on the Las Vegas nightclub scene at the Riviera. DJ BillZ is the main man overseeing the nightly parties, every Wednesday through Sunday, midnight until 4 a.m. "Some nights, especially Saturday's Latin Nights, we will stay open until 5 a.m.." says BillZ.

"We cater to everyone, but we are trying to give the locals what they ask for and that is different themed nights. On Wednesdays, for instance, it's pure Rhythm and Blues. Thursdays, we roll up the rugs for Spanish Rock. Most of our clientele are in their early twenties and they can't seem to get enough. On Fridays, it becomes International Night with 'in house' and 'hip-hop.' Saturday is strictly Latin and, as aforementioned, we usually close around 5 a.m. On Sunday, you can hear the Top 40."

As an added attraction, members of the male revue, "American Storm," the show that precedes club's opening each night, mix and mingle with the early Syn City patrons. It becomes a photo and autograph frenzy. The Syn City slogan is "Bring Only Your Temptation." The atmosphere is enhanced by the devilishly-costumed cocktail waitresses, who also oblige for photo ops. Out-of-town visitors are always $10. Las Vegas ladies are always free and the local gentlemen are $10 after 1 a.m.

In February of 2007, the Riv announced that Sammy Davis Jr., will be honored by the Las Vegas Walk of Stars on Thursday, February 15, 2007, at 11:00 am. The site of the ceremony will be in the Le Bistro Room.

"Davis was born December 8, 1925, in the Harlem neighborhood of New York to parents that were both dancers in vaudeville. At the age of three, his father took him on tour where he learned to dance and soon joined the act that became the Will Mastin Trio.

Davis suffered a setback in 1954 when he almost lost his life in an automobile accident, which resulted in the loss of his left eye. The accident occurred on a bend on U.S. Highway 66 at a railroad bridge.

While in the service, he joined an entertainment unit and found that the spotlight removed some of the prejudice he endured. "My talent was the weapon, the power, the way for me to fight. It was the one way I might hope to affect a man's thinking." After serving in the United States Army and releasing two albums, Davis appeared in his first Broadway show Mr. Wonderful in 1956. He became a charter member of the Rat Pack in 1959, which was led by his old friend, Frank Sinatra and included Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford and Shirley MacLaine.

Davis married May Britt in 1960 - the couple had one daughter and adopted two sons. They divorced in 1968 and later that year, he started dating Altovise Gore, a dancer in Golden Boy. They were married in 1970 by Reverend Jesse Jackson and remained married until Sammy's death in 1990. Davis' acting career included The Benny Goodman Story, Porgy & Bess and the original Ocean's Eleven, to name a few. The "ultimate entertainer" had many recording hits such as Candy Man and What Kind of Fool Am I. Davis was one of the hardest working entertainers in the business. For example, in 1964 he was starring in a Broadway musical at night, shooting his own New York-based afternoon talk show during the day, and when he could get a day off from the theater, he would either be in the studio recording new songs, or else performing live, often at charity benefits as far away as Miami, Chicago and Las Vegas, or doing television variety specials in Los Angeles. Davis seemed to be incapable of standing still. Sammy Davis died in Beverly Hills, California, on May 16, 1990, of complications from throat cancer at age 64. Altovise Davis will accept the honor on Sammy's behalf. The Las Vegas Walk of Stars was developed in cooperation with Clark County, which sanctioned four miles of sidewalk to the East and West of Las Vegas Boulevard South between Sahara and Russell. Similar to the "Palm Springs Walk of Stars," located along the sidewalks of Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, California, the Las Vegas project honors people of prominence in a variety of fields including entertainment, sports, literary, humanitarian, civic, military, and pioneers. Each star is a three feet square slab of polished granite weighing 180 lbs. and inlaid with the recipient's name and specialty. For more information, visit www.lasvegaswalkofstars.com or E-mail: lvwostars@aol.com. - John Neeland, Riviera Hotel, February 2007

Chef Sam Chong

In late February, 2007, Riv announced that she is promoting no trans fat cooking. It's no secret these days scientific evidence shows consumption of saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol increase the risk of coronary heart disease. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has required saturated fat and dietary cholesterol to be listed on food labels since 1993, and as of January 1st of last year, all trans fat information has been added to the nutritional panels of supermarket food choices. This is a step in the right direction for the everyday shopper concerned about healthy eating habits, especially at home. But what about going out to eat? Executive Chef Sam Chong said, "All of our frying oils and cooking oils contain no trans fat or cholesterol. While there might be some in the processed food we buy, we do not add any trans fat or cholesterol to our food. This applies to all of the Riviera outlets from our Hound Doggie's Snack Bar to our gourmet restaurants, Kristofer's and Ristorante Italiano, to the employee's cafeteria, the Club Riv."

Trans fat can be found in vegetable shortenings, some margarines, salad dressings, cookies, crackers, snack foods and other foods made with or fried in partially hydrogenated oils. As an ingredient, fat provides taste, consistency and stability and helps one feel full. While fat is a major source of energy for the body and aids in the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K and when eaten in moderation, is important for growth, development and maintenance of good health, it is very advisable to choose foods low in saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol as part of a healthful diet. Chong added, "For our employees, during the past year we have been experimenting with healthy entrées that have anywhere between 200 and 400 calories. Combined with our no trans fat cooking, I'd like to think our employees are losing pounds and improving their circulation at the same time." To further investigate the research on trans fat and dietary cholesterol, an abundance of information can be found on the Internet under the United States Food and Drug Administration (www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/transfat).

In March of 2007, Riv announced its Club Riviera's new look. "Why? For one reason, you can get lost in all the new leather furniture! Situated in its new centralized location next to the casino's Race and Sports Book, the ambience suggests a nightclub VIP area, rather than a typical slot club booth seen at many other properties. There is a stage replete with a Baby Grand offering entertainment six nights a week, and because it is a casino gaming area, smokers feel comfortable noting the plentiful ashtrays! The club really does offer members, new and old, more advantages than the competition, as well as the best deal anywhere: the new three-tiered rewards for play and loyalty. With shorter lines and more privacy for players, the personalized service is getting good grades. For the first time in Riviera history, there are more slot club service representatives in one convenient location to handle your every need. An easy access tournament registration area includes a tournament score posting board. You won't miss a single sports' play, since the TV monitors are on until midnight! Perks and benefits await you in the Club's new three-tiered program. Upon joining, you receive the blue "Select" membership card. Referred to as "the clear choice for play ers," you can see through the clear plastic card! After you have earned 5,000 points you become a "Gold" Club member; after 15,000 points, you've made Platinum status. Each tier carries its own discounts at Riviera restaurants, participating retail shops, the health spa and shows. You also receive Player's Room Rates with room accommodation upgrades, based on availability. Invitations to tournaments and events accompany special card level offers. The Club Riviera staff will be pleased to tell you where you stand in terms of the new tiers/levels and just how close you are to know that you are only a few points shy of becoming a Gold member to get 2X cash back or becoming a Platinum member to get 3X cash back.

Riviera also announced that with more than 150,000 square feet of casino space, players enjoy a wide variety of gaming possibilities without the elbow-to-elbow overcrowding that is often characteristic with other resorts. Included are all forms of reel slots, the latest video games, a variety of table games, VIP slot area, bustling Poker Room, and a multi-large screen Race and Sports Book. Membership is free to join the new Club Riviera and many visitors take advantage of this opportunity. Whether you enjoy the penny slots or the $5 machines, you are eligible for complimentaries. While playing, one can earn an added bonus of special room rates, free food and beverage. Tournament Fever occurs daily in the Main Casino. It's the perfect slot tournament for the visitor "on-the-go." Win up to $1,000! It's a fever worth catching! When trying to win a new Mercedes Benz for pennies, settle in to the 1950's-themed "Hound Doggies," located in the Riviera's Penny Town and enjoy foot long hotdogs, shrimp cocktails, draft beer or other numerous offerings for a nominal ninety-nine cents each. Locals and out-of-towners alike try their luck at the Riviera's famous Winners'Zone. Receive $40 of slot play for $20 and you can win a possible $40, $100 or $1,000.

In 2007, Riviera will be showcasing the following:

"AN EVENING AT LA CAGE" - Starring Frank Marino as Joan Rivers, 7:30 p.m.- DARK Tuesdays, Mardi Gras Entertainment Complex, 3rd Level, $55-$65.00 plus tax and fee, No one under 12 years old admitted. Dinner and show combinations are available. VIP seating plus Line Pass available

"CRAZY GIRLS" (Voted #1 Showgirls in Las Vegas) - Las Vegas' Sexiest Topless Revue, 9:30 p.m. - DARK Tuesdays, Mardi Gras Entertainment Complex , 2nd Level, $34.95 -$60 plus tax and fee. You must be 18 years of age or older. Dinner and show combinations are available.

THE RIVIERA COMEDY CLUB, (7th Year-Named #1 Comedy Club in Las Vegas), 8:30 & 10:30 p.m., Nightly, $19.95 plus tax and fee, new set of comics every Monday. VIP seating plus Line Pass available. Mardi Gras Entertainment Complex, 2nd Level, Dinner and show combinations are available. No one under 12 years old admitted
1/1/07- 1/7/07 - Gerry Bednob, Sam Kwasman, Steve Mittleman*
2/5 - 2/11 Richie Minervini, Ray Garvey, Steve Corvette
2/12 - 2/18 Larry Reeb, Brian McKim, Traci Skeen
2/19 - 2/25 Carole Montgomery, Steve Altman, Ray Barnett
2/26 -3/4 Bob Zany, Sean Corvelle, Ryan Sperry
3/5 - 3/11 Johnny Rizzo, Rob Magnotti, Bob Cautreau
3/12 - 3/18 Willie Ferrell, Paul Bond, Dwayne Clark
3/19 - 3/25 Kenny Rogerson, Vince Dantona, Jimmy Dunn
3/26 - 4/1 Carl LaBove, Johnny Pizzi, Larry Miles
4/2 - 4/8 Diane Ford, Dan Grueter, Andrew Solmssen

Le Bistro Theatre:

"Dr. Scott Lewis - OUTRAGEOUS COMEDY HYPNOTIST" Monday Nights Only, 9 p.m., $22.95 plus tax and fee.
A Neil Diamond Tribute - starring Jay White, 7 p.m., Sunday through Thursday- $49.95 plus tax and fee, Indefinite. DARK : FEBRUARY 4, 7 & 8
Barbara & Frnk: The Concert That Never was - 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, $42.95 plus tax and fee. VIP tickets available. 8 or older, please. DARK: FEBRUARY 7, 10 & 11.
American Storm - male dance revue - 10:30 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, $54.95 plus tax and fee* VIP tickets available.
CASINO FLOOR STAGE - DAILY: RIV IT UP - Tues., Thurs., Sat. & Sun. (Indefinitely); Le Bristro Fridays & Saturdays - 5:45 p.m. & 7 p.m. - DUOS/

Club Riviera Stage - 6 p.m. - Midnight - Live Piano/Various; Ristorante Terrace Stage - 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. - Andrew; James/Piano; Penny Town Stage - Noon - 5 p.m., Karaoke Impersonators

Note: Le Bistro Theatre converts to Syn City, the Nightclub, Tuesday through Sundays; open Midnight to 4 a.m

Dr. Scott LewisJay WhiteMary Jane SamoyJim Dunn

On February 20, 2015, The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority purchased the Riviera for $182.5 million, which includes up to $8.5 million in transaction-related expenses. Morgan Stanley, which was hired to oversee the transaction, would receive a $3.5 million flat fee. The remainder would pay title fees, legal and professional fees, surveys and environmental studies.

Approval of the transaction occurred simultaneously with authorization of a lease-back agreement that will keep operation of the hotel-casino in the hands of Paragon Gaming, a Las Vegas company that manages the property for Connecticut-based Starwood Capital Group. The 10th lady on the Strip is expected to close May 4, 2015. Paragon CEO Scott Menke said the plans call for the entire hotel-casino, including the restaurants and shows, to remain open until the closing date.

"We have been running at 80 percent occupancy. We want our guests to have the full Riviera experience." - Scott Menke

Once the property is closed and furnishings are cleared, the building will be turned over to the authority, which will have the responsibility of setting a date with implosion specialists.

Menke said the primary concern is finding new employment for the hotel-casino's nearly 1,000 full and part-time employees. Paragon is working with several Nevada agencies to assist in the transition. Paragon is still determining the severance package for the employees.

Paragon created a website for employees that includes job training tips and information, and a listing of jobs throughout the Las Vegas Valley. Also, the company is working with Nevada JobConnect's emergency response team and has been in contact with the eight unions that represent Riviera workers.

"We've had a huge response of support from local and regional gaming companies looking for experienced and well-seasoned people. We hope to be effective in helping everybody connect." - Scott Menke

Privately held Paragon, headed by Dianna Bennett, Vegas visionary Bill Bennett's daughter, began managing the Riviera in June 2013 following a major shake-up that included the firing of the CEO. The resort became "cash-flow positive" in all its operating areas during its tenure.

Paragon will begin planning to dispose of gaming equipment, hotel room furnishings and other items from the Riviera. He said the historic Las Vegas photographs that adorn the Riviera’s walls belong to the convention authority.

The life-size bronze sculpture of seven G-string clad dancers from the Riviera's "Crazy Girls" topless show, in a line as seen from the rear, is owned by Norbert Aleman, the show's producer. Aleman stated the statue, which has become a photographic stop for Strip visitors since its 1997 installation, will be moved "to another location on the Strip." He said he is in negotiations with three properties to move the show and sculpture.

Meanwhile, the convention authority, which is responsible for marketing Las Vegas to the world, will work with architects and engineers to develop a site plan for the $2.3 billion Las Vegas Global Business District.

CEO Rossi Ralenkotter stated the vote represented the next step in what is expected to be a 5 to 8 year effort to change the city's meetings and conventions industry landscape.

Although managers plan to close the Riviera, one of the city's first high-rise resort properties, and lay off an estimated 1,000 employees, the authority will hire architects and engineers to upgrade the campus. Ralenkotter envisions the project occurring in two phases involving expansion and renovation. In the first phase, the authority will add 750,000 square feet of new exhibit pace and 187,500 square feet of additional meeting space. The second phase would involve renovating existing space to create 100,000 square feet for general sessions and 100,000 square feet for new meeting space.

Ralenkotter said some kind of people-mover transportation system also is planned because of the distance from the Riviera's front doorstep on Las Vegas Boulevard to the Convention Center’s existing South Hall.

The authority estimates that 6,000 construction jobs would be created along with 6,000 projected permanent jobs supported with $221 million in salaries and wages projected to be generated.

Improving and expanding facilities is expected to draw at least 25 new shows that the authority's sales staff already has contacted about relocating their events to Las Vegas. Besides new shows, existing events can be expanded for more attendance.

One person who spoke during the meeting's public comment period asked board members to consider the historic significance of the Riviera. The man, wearing a T-shirt that said, "Save the Riviera," asked board members to consider an alternative to acquiring and imploding the hotel.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, a board member, questioned the loss of the many jobs at the Riviera but was assured that the resulting construction project would hire even more people and would keep the city ahead of rival cities trying to steal business.

"This is a vote to secure us for the next generation," said board member Charles Bowling, an executive at Mandalay Bay. "To the competitors who want to steal business from us, this project says, 'Not so fast.'??"

Since I couldn't be there for the closing, I took the liberty of taking the article from the Las Vegas Review Journal, since someone was there. You can view the article with pictures at http://www.reviewjournal.com/business/casinos-gaming/riviera-ends-60-years-strip-closes-good.

"By KIMBERLY DE LA CRUZ and RICHARD N. VELOTTA LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

In a surrealistic, you-don't-see-that-everyday kind of way, the storied Riviera, a fixture on the north end of the Strip for 60 years, closed its doors for good Monday.

Representatives of Paragon Gaming, the company managing the property for its previous owners, Starwood Capital Group, ushered late well-wishers out the door at noon as representatives of the state Gaming Control Board oversaw the closure.

An hour before the 11 a.m. checkout time, men pushed carts of stage lights through the hotel lobby as the final hotel guests stared.

Outside the casino's Strip-facing doors, only about 10 passers-by stopped to photograph the landmark at 10:30 a.m. Crews working to remove the gold "R" door handles quickly caught the attention of others.

Standing somberly before the casino doors, Larry Edwards bore the casino name across his shirt. "I walked through this building for 15 years," he said, clutching old show programs under his arm. Edwards impersonated Tina Turner at the Riviera in "La Cage" from 1987 until 2005, he said, when he, like much of the Strip, ventured south on Las Vegas Boulevard. After the Stardust was imploded, foot traffic decreased, and it was never the same, he said. He now performs in Frank Moreno's "Divas" at The Linq but never forgot about his time at the property and remained "amazed by the reaction from Vegas crowds" over his first performance years ago.

For those employed until the last minute, Monday morning was just another day, according to two housekeepers. The parties were over, and there was still work to be done.

Six employees were tasked with removing the classic "Crazy Girls" statue from the front of the building.

Just before 11 a.m., the men removed the "No Ifs, Ands Or..." statue from the casino front and loaded it onto a pickup.

"We're going to go up and down the Strip with it," exclaimed the show's technical director, Nevada Nichols. "Then, it's going on tour to Red Rock, Lake Mead and the Welcome (to Fabulous Las Vegas) sign," he said.

About a hundred people stood in awe when the process began, and by the time the statue was being loaded, the crowd size had tripled. "It’s so hard to say goodbye," the onlookers sang. One woman cried out, "No, Las Vegas! No!"

Inside, unaware of the commotion that ensued on the other side of the doors, Faith Klimczak of Greenville, S.C., laughed, photographing her boyfriend, Jeff Batten, lying on a craps table. "We drove all night to say goodbye," said Klimczak, who has cashed in poker tournaments according to the TheHendonMob website. "We've never had a bad time at the Riv." Batten climbed off the table and said, "I came to take 'em for what was left!"

What was left? Just about everything. It wasn't until 10 minutes before the casino closing that security began turning off slot machines and bartenders hollered, "Last call for alcohol."

Jenny and Paul Sidell sat gambling when the machines next to them were shut down. "I guess we're done," Paul Sidell said, cashing out. The couple from Minneapolis saw the historical closing on the news and left their room at the Wynn Las Vegas to get in on the action.

Everyone else, it seemed, played a part in the casino's history. A group of employees and former employees huddled around a table swapping stories. "I worked here! I worked here for 41 years!" Lucy Kutcher proclaimed. She started as a keno pit clerk in 1959 and worked until being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. "This has always been a second home," she said. Recalling her favorite memory of the Riviera, she described the elaborate details, including gaming tables "all lined up with crystal chandeliers over them."

Her friend, Paul Kiros, stopped to remember his first decade working at the casino from 1986 to 1996. "I like the old days," he said. Kiros worked for 29 years as a Riviera shift boss "until yesterday," he said, laughing. He said the closing was "kind of like going to a funeral. That's why I'm all dressed in black."

Just a few minutes later, the call came over the loudspeaker — the Riviera was closed. Hesitantly, patrons started to file out. "To the Riviera," customers toasted in the bar. David McLane of Henderson held up his Pabst Blue Ribbon — the final pour in the casino. "Sad, terribly sad," he described the closing.

Security enforced the closure at about 12:30 p.m. and showed remaining guests to the exits. One officer said to the crowd, "There's another casino right across the street. They're open."

The 23-story hotel, the first high-rise resort on the Strip, was purchased in February by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority for $182.5 million. The property will become the front door to a revamped convention center complex, the $2.3 billion Las Vegas Global Business District. A fence soon will be erected around the shuttered property.

A $3 million liquidation sale of furnishings is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. May 14. The sale will take place from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday until everything is gone.

Flat-screen televisions of all sizes, king and full-size Serta Perfect Sleeper pillow-top beds, Kimball granite-top chests and desks, nightstands, writing desks, game tables, pictures, mirrors, lamps, chairs, sofas, love seats, end tables, coffee tables, sofa tables, dining tables and chairs, chandeliers and sconces, wet bars, bar stools, bathroom fixtures from the property's 2,075 rooms will be sold.

The Convention and Visitors Authority is expected to take possession of the building by June 8. A spokesman for the authority said no timetable has been established for the demolition of the property. Initially, officials speculated that could occur in August or September, but the authority now says it could be the end of the year or early next year before the Riviera comes down.

How the building is demolished hasn't been determined. The authority is considering an implosion or a more conventional demolition.

Monday's closure was overseen by the state Gaming Control Board staff. Personnel on the scene were from the board's audit and enforcement staffs. Shirley Springer, chief of the control board's audit division, said five or six auditors will devote an estimated 1,500 hours to the Riviera closure. Springer's staff will audit casino activity from the date of the Rivera's last audit about two years ago to the closing date with auditors reviewing records of table game and slot machine play. Springer said the Riviera was required to file a closure plan with the state that included details on how Riviera chips would be redeemed and excess chips destroyed.

Paragon and Starwood officials contracted with Gaming Partners International to dispose of casino chips. Mobile industrial equipment will shred lead-free casino chips later this week. For casino patrons owning chips, a redemption center has been set up at the Westgate property just east of the Riviera. Patrons will have 120 days, or until Sept. 1, to redeem their chips.

Follow @KimberlyinLV on Twitter. Contact reporter Kimberly De La Cruz at kdelacruz@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter. Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893."

I did hear that the Crazy Girl statue will be placed at Planet Hollywood.

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