With the distinct smell of Black & Mild cigar smoke wafting through the air, O’Sheas Casino reopened Friday morning on the Las Vegas Strip, just in time for New Year’s Eve.
Among the crowd of about 100 was Trevor Smith from Santa Rosa, Calif., who said he came to drink and gamble as much as possible. True to his word, Smith was one of the first people to sit down at one of the casino’s blackjack tables Friday morning.
The 5,000-square-foot space is filled with six beer pong tables, 11 table games and two bars featuring 60 different beers. The new casino is part of the $550 million Linq project, the Caesars Entertainment Corp.-owned open-air retail, dining and entertainment district.
“We’re very excited to bring back an iconic brand, an elevated experience, but still stay true to its roots,” said Jon Gray, vice president and general manager of The Linq.
As opposed to the old O’Sheas, which was filled with clanging slot machines and on its best day was just a bit gritty, this version features rich, hardwood features throughout, reminiscent of an established Irish pub.
“I remember the old O’Sheas, and I didn’t know they were going to put in anything new. This looks pretty cool,” Smith said.
Gray noted that Caesars Entertainment wanted to maintain the overall feel of the original O’Sheas while giving it an update and facelift.
“We wanted to give it its proper due. It’s a great brand that people love coming to. We wanted to clean it up a little but it’s very important to us that the same great experience exists and I think we’ve achieved that,” Gray said.
After the ribbon-cutting, the new casino was buzzing with the sound of people playing craps, blackjack and beer pong while sipping beer from clear plastic cups.
A guest of the former O’Sheas, Smith summed up the experience: “Most of the stories from there I can’t remember. You know the old O’Sheas: It was a place to grab cheap drinks and get your party on.”
As O’Sheas made its reappearance on the Las Vegas casino scene Friday, its resident mayor was there to usher in the new era. Brian Thomas, or Lucky the Leprechaun as he’s become known, gave the inaugural Irish toast and cut the ribbon.
“I can’t even express how great it is, it’s awesome. The return of O’Sheas on the Strip couldn’t be better,” Thomas said. “It’s a lot cleaner now.”
He called the new casino O’Sheas 2.0, for its updated technology and sleeker feel. One of his missions now that it’s reopened is bringing the locals down, Thomas said.
Mathew Hunt from Fremont, Calif., also was at the casino opening with his two friends, Jeremy McBride and Alex Octabino. The trio was celebrating their January birthdays a little early and came to check out the beer pong tables. Having never been to Las Vegas before, the three decided their first stop would be O’Sheas.
Just outside the Irish-themed casino, a converted alleyway and parking garage have been transformed into the district now known as The Linq, where the first six tenants opened at 3 p.m. Friday on the western end.
Among the openings are a full-service Starbucks and The Purple Zebra, a 4,000-square-foot self-serve candy and daiquiri bar. The latter is named after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writings in which his characters drink daiquiris, then hallucinate about a purple zebra.
Block 16 Hospitality, the company behind Holsteins Shakes and Buns at the Cosmopolitan, LBS, The Barrymore and Public House, opened the 1,000-square-foot Haute Doggery, which features menu items like the Jersey Ripper, a deep fried hot dog with sweet and spicy yellow relish and onions. Old license plates come together to create an American flag design on the ceiling of the new hot dog joint.
Chayo Mexican Kitchen + Tequila Bar opened, featuring a menu designed by Executive Chef Ernesto Zendejas, and lifestyle boutique Koto features unique accessories such as a device to make homemade ice luges, hats and other quirky items.
“We’re really proud of our tenants and what they’re bringing to the table,” Gray said.
The Linq’s second phase is scheduled to open Feb. 28 and the High Roller observation wheel should open shortly thereafter.
Contact reporter Laura Carroll at email@example.com or 702-380-4588. Follow @lscvegas on Twitter.