Gimme a D: Fitzgeralds taps new name for rebranding

Fitzgeralds’ rainbow marquee will soon disappear.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, the Irish-themed Fremont Street property is changing its name to The D Las Vegas. The D represents downtown’s resurgence and its owners’ Detroit roots. D is also what majority owner and CEO Derek Stevens is called by his friends.

The casino is also getting a $15 million makeover, which is now under way, to go with its new name. The building will be wrapped in the property’s new logo, the marquee will be dismantled and replaced with light-emitting diode screens, an outdoor bar will be built and a one-way escalator installed to transport Fremont Street tourists up to the casino’s second floor.

And that’s just the exterior face-lift.

"We’re going to try to have a dramatic visual impact on Fremont Street that blends the old with the new," said Stevens, who acquired the casino with brother Greg in October. The brothers also co-own the nearby Golden Gate casino with Mark Brandenburg.

One of the first transformations on Friday night was ready for public viewing. A new bar, appropriately called Longbar, stretches along a wall where slot machines once dominated the casino floor. Stevens said it is the longest known bar in the state at about 100 feet.

"I didn’t want to do rebranding or renaming until we had something to show," Stevens said.

With 15 70-inch, flat-screen TVs lining the wall behind the bar, Longbar is a step in a decidedly more modern direction for The D.

When completed, the casino’s first floor will have new slot product, new carpet, a new sound system and dancing table games dealers. Stevens said The D expects to add 100 to 150 new employees to round out the additions.

The D will keep its two-story gaming floor, a rarity in the industry, but give the second story a twist. Video screens will be installed along the casino’s interior escalator, which will take customers back in time to a vintage Vegas-themed second floor, complete with retro games such as the 10-seat, mechanical horse-racing game Sigma Derby.

The second floor will be remodeled over the next six weeks. Sigma Derby will be installed in April.

The D’s 638 hotel rooms and suites will also be updated in two-floor phases. The hotel will not be extensively renovated, Stevens said, just freshened up.

On the food and beverage front, The D’s steakhouse and café will remain, though their names will be changed. Krispy Kreme is closing in a few weeks to make way for the property’s outdoor escalator.

The remodel is expected to wrap up this fall.

Derek and Greg Stevens purchased Fitzgeralds from the estate of the late Don Barden, who died in May. He had licensed the Fitzgeralds name, but the brothers decided to end that agreement and give the property a new brand to go with its planned new look.

"Right off the get-go, we knew the Fitzgeralds name was going to go away," Stevens said. "On top of that, I wanted to come in and renovate the property and really change the brand and add some energy, excitement and some newness to the whole property."

The property’s workers are also excited for the changes. Lead valet attendant Aromie Morales has been with the company for five years and said employees’ energy is at its peak.

"Everything is new — new ownership, new bar, a lot of new people," Morales said.

More people, too. Morales said business is booming at the property.

Contact reporter Caitlin McGarry at cmcgarry@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5273.

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