Celebrity bartender John O’Donnell has landed a sweet deal in the epicenter of the downtown revival.
O’Donnell, who has spent most of his life behind bars — we’re talking about saloons — is joining restaurateurs Michael and Jenna Morton as a partner in La Comida, their Mexican restaurant in the bustling East Fremont District.
O’Donnell has been one of the city’s most-connected bartenders during a decade at celebrity-laden N9ne Steakhouse at the Palms and, before that, Morton’s for two years.
The Irishman’s gift of gab has served him well. In recent years he has even been a driver for presidential motorcades.
Joining forces made business sense, said the Mortons, who are opening La Comida to the public April 22.
“Maybe we’ll call it Casa Juan O’Donnell,” said Michael Morton, a former partner in N9ne.
“In all my years,” he added, “I’ve never paid someone to not work. We’ve had him in our bullpen for six months.”
Jenna Morton said: “It was serendipitous that he was a free agent.”
O’Donnell figures his latest stop, amid 100-plus tequila brands and authentic Mexican food, was meant to be.
“I was born on May 5, and you know what that is — Cinco de Mayo!” said O’Donnell, who has served the likes of Britney Spears, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Joe Montana and Frank Thomas.
“It’s huge,” he added. “To be a partner with Michael Morton. I can’t thank him enough for giving me a shot. It’s a fantastic reward.”
Fox NFL host and Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw pulled off a quarterback sneak last week, showing up for two days of unannounced rehearsals at Luxor. He rehearsed with his four backup singers, including Lorena Peril, lead singer of the topless “Fantasy” revue.
Bradshaw has a two-night engagement June 28 and 29 in the Terry Fator Theater at The Mirage. Initially a one-man show, “America’s Favorite Dumb Blonde ... A Life in Four Quarters” will be a musical journey of personal stories, joke-telling and some singing.
Playing Vegas has long been on Bradshaw’s bucket list. Emmy-winning choreographer Anita Mann, who helped assemble a team for the show, got a firsthand look at his popularity during a recent walk through The Mirage.
“He has a great sense of humor,” she said. “The only problem is all the guys want to talk football with him. You can’t take two steps without him being stopped. And he stops for everyone.”
Michael Caine and Quincy Jones, dining at SW Steakhouse (Wynn) on Tuesday with Steve Wynn and Larry Ruvo. Caine and Jones are receiving keys to the city today from Mayor Carolyn Goodman at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health. They are the featured honors at Larry Ruvo’s Keep Memory Alive/Power of Love gala at the MGM Grand Garden arena. You can text a donation to 80888 memory. Information: 702-701-7894. ... Star chefs Bobby Flay, Scott Conant and Geoffrey Zakarian, with celebrity chef Scott Feldman, at “Le Reve” (Wynn) on Wednesday after a Rat Pack-themed photo shoot for Departures magazine.
THE PUNCH LINE
“Why do I feel like this whole (North Korea) thing could be solved by sending Kim Jong Un a Disneyland pass?” — Jimmy Kimmel
Norm Clarke’s column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 702-383-0244 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find more online at www.normclarke.com. Follow Norm on Twitter @Norm_Clarke. “Norm Clarke’s Vegas,” airs Thursdays on the “Morning Blend” on KTNV-TV, Channel 13.