The pandemic may have punched Las Vegas’ tourism industry, but the patient is showing many signs of life. The easing of capacity restrictions on Monday to 50 percent, the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations on Wednesday and the madness in early March have all helped increase traffic in the tourist corridor and suburbs.
Scott Frost, managing partner of Hussong’s Cantina at Boca Park and The Shoppes at Mandalay Place and Slice of Vegas at the latter, said the energy among customers is palpable, especially on the Strip, where incomes are higher than ‘in 2019.
“Tourists are back in force,” he said. âYou roll into the casino, or you look in the mall, and the energy is there. For suburban dwellers, (along with) the fact that the vaccinations are going on, it feels a bit more like we’re coming to a turning point and things are getting a bit safer.
At the Strat on Friday afternoon, Vice President and General Manager Stephen Thayer said it had been “an exciting week”, with more bookings for the resort’s Top of the World restaurant and people flocking to the bookmaker and the adjacent PT Wings & Sports for March Madness. .
âPeople just want to sit there, watch basketball games, eat food and make bets for days,â he said.
Among them was Ernie Moreno of the San Fernando Valley in California, in town for his first March Madness in several years.
âI’ve been at home with my kids for a year, educating them at home,â Moreno said. “I just wanted a break and I wanted to watch games.”
College basketball was also the main event on Friday night at the Tailgate Social Sports Bar & Grill in Palace Station. Brian Pascoe had come to town especially for the tournament. It wasn’t his first time, but he said it seemed to have gotten better.
âI feel like the service is better,â he said. âThe crowds are growing. And it seems more normal here than in the state of Connecticut. “
At Ferraro’s Italian restaurant on Paradise Road, owner Gino Ferraro said on Friday night he expected to be near full capacity that night and was full by Saturday.
âPeople are coming back,â Ferraro said. âThey feel good to go out. “
Ferraro said his outdoor patio has been particularly popular. Early Friday night, Yolanda Blanco from Phoenix, who was with a group of 12 at two tables, had dinner there. She said it was the first time they had returned to Las Vegas since the pandemic began.
âWe were bored to the point of losing our minds,â she said. âI have received the vaccine and the children are going to go back to school. She added that March Madness was part of the draw.
Jill Clark and Geoff Schierbaum of the Bay Area were also on their first return trip.
âIt was time for us to open up,â he said. âWe have to move on in life. Vegas is coming back.
The Peppermill Restaurant on the Strip had a 45-60 minute wait for some tables at 7pm, there was a wait for the restaurant’s Fireside Lounge, and 50-60 people were standing outside waiting to be seated.
âWe are busy from opening to closing,â CEO Peggy Orth said earlier in the week. “You can tell people are coming back.”
San Diego’s Alberto and Rosalba Gonzalez, who were seated in a booth on Friday night, said they came to town to celebrate their 31st birthday, which was Wednesday.
âI feel very comfortable,â he said. “Just use a mask and that’s it.”
And the inhabitants were also in force. Cory Harwell, owner of Carson Kitchen in downtown, said earlier in the week that things improve, especially on weekends, with the restaurant accommodating as many people as possible given social distancing requirements. For this purpose, they used the outdoor patio and roof terrace as well as the dining room on Friday evenings.
On the bridge, locals David Brown, Mike Walton, and Rich Crithfield were dining and drinking under a crescent moon. Walton said they still went out occasionally during the pandemic, “but it was very selective.”
âThe numbers (COVID-19) are low,â Brown said. He said he was aware that restaurants had been among the hardest hit.
âIt’s all about support,â Crithfield said.
At Ferraro, locals Jason and Heidi Vanderslice said they too have continued to go out during the pandemic, to support local businesses. But he noted that “every weekend it gets more crowded.”
Andrea Decker and Michael Flint were among the crowds that filled Hussong’s at Boca Park on Friday. They said they went out regularly and saw ever larger crowds.
âWithout a doubt, he’s getting to where he was,â Flint said.
Earlier in the week, Todd Clore, owner of Todd’s Unique Dining on Sunset Road in Henderson, and Marcello Mauro, co-owner of Nora’s Italian Cuisine on Flamingo Road, said they were seeing more demand, but were still hampered. by capacity and social conditions. distancing requirements.
âI haven’t reopened my bar yet, because then I would have to lose all the tables surrounding the bar,â Clore said.
âThe real difference for us is, hopefully, when we lose the 6ft restriction and go down to 3ft,â said Mauro.
The series of celebrations that drew more people began on St. Patrick’s Day. Washington, DC’s Ariskelnys Brea, who with her husband was in Ri Ra at the Shoppes at Mandalay Place when it closed before the lockdown last March, was back for the fourth year.
âWe have been tested and everything is fine,â she said. âSo we said, ‘Let’s go’. Why not? Everything is open.
At McMullan’s Irish Pub on Tropicana Avenue, local Andrea Frantzek said she waited an hour to enter.
âIt makes me feel like it’s a normal St. Patrick’s Day,â she said. “It feels good. Everything is going back to what it was.
âIt was fantastic to have people back here,â said bartender Paul Walsh Jr. âJust to hear the chatter of people at the tables, to have live music again, it’s amazing. “