When you think of places where you might have the "Vegas Experience," a food court probably isn't at the top of the list.
Heck, it's probably not anywhere on the list.
But Lincoln Spoor, the guy who brought Krispy Kreme to the valley, hopes to change your mind.
The former investment banker turned doughnut king has helped create what he calls "the center of the universe as it related to food."
Or, simply, the Castle Walk food court in the Excalibur.
The first phase of the new food court opened in November. The third and final phase will be completed early this year.
It is not your typical food court, notes Jason Shkorupa, vice president of food and beverage at Luxor and Excalibur.
It's huge and full of fast food brands new to the Strip. It's also a place where you can kick back, eat and watch a sporting event on big-screen TVs while your kids get fake tattoos spray-painted on their arms.
Castle Walk food court measures about 20,000 square feet, making it among the largest food courts in Las Vegas. Eight brands are represented in the renovated space, including Krispy Kreme, Auntie Anne's Soft Rolled Pretzels, Popcornopolis, Hot Dog on a Stick, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Pick Up Stix and Cinnabon.
Cinnabon, Hot Dog on a Stick, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Pick Up Stix are new to the Strip, Shkorupa says. And Schlotzsky's is scheduled to open its first Strip location in the food court sometime this spring.
But the food court is about more than food; it's also about fun, something that Spoor is very good at. Which is why management turned to him when they decided to renovate the existing space.
"Lincoln doesn't do anything simple," Shkorupa says. "He always wants to add a twist to something. When we wanted to conceptualize this, we went to him. He's the Krispy Kreme man."
Spoor, CEO of Feel Good Brands, opened his second Krispy Kreme in Las Vegas at the Excalibur 14 years ago.
Before Shkorupa and Spoor put their heads together, the Excalibur surveyed thousands of guests, asking them what they wanted in a food court. The market research found that people want value but they also want quick service from brands that they recognize.
Spoor threw in the idea about hiring roaming entertainers, installing photo booths and bringing in balloon artists and face painters.
"So much of Vegas is take, take, take," Spoor says. "I asked 'what could make this an energetic, fun-creating experience?' We wanted it to be a place where people would come back."
Market research also revealed that hotel guests often visit food courts for takeout food that they eat in the sports book, Shkorupa says. So they added lounge areas with televisions in the food court.
The result is what Shkorupa calls "a destination food court in a hotel. The idea is that guests will visit it at least once while they're here. And the idea was to provide the best experience" for them.
For now, face painters, spray-paint tattoo artists and other performers will be entertaining guests Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Hours will expand during the summer, Spoor says.
Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@review journal.com or 702-380-4564. Follow @StripSonya on Twitter.