The announcement was expected, but it wasn’t any less odd to hear around 2 a.m. Monday.
The bartenders at Center Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel, a raucous 24-hour destination for tourists and locals alike in Las Vegas for more than two decades, proclaimed last call as part of the property’s scheduled shutdown for renovations.
While the practice is commonplace at most drinking establishments, it had rarely, if ever, been heard at this storied off-Strip watering hole.
The announced time for the end of most casino operations was 3 a.m., but the process started early.
Those gawkers hoping for some sort of siren followed by a mass scramble to the exits instead witnessed an orderly, methodical process that began much sooner.
Players were pulled from table games around 1 a.m. as dealers and floor supervisors started counting the chips in the racks.
Security personnel closed all but one entrance to Center Bar about a half-hour later and started filtering revelers through one access point.
— Adam Hill (@AdamHillLVRJ) February 3, 2020
There were a few boisterous toasts and plenty of rounds of shots for the last hour. Hugs and toasts spread quickly as the Semisonic hit “Closing Time” played throughout the casino.
Bartenders shook hands with patrons and accepted their thanks and acknowledgements — and tips — for their role in creating so many “What Happens in Vegas” moments throughout the years.
It certainly wasn’t a typical Super Bowl night crowd.
While there were scattered jerseys and a few rowdy sports fan-types, there was a distinct sense most of the crowd was made up of locals who reached the peak of their partying days in the early part of the century when this was the place to be seen. They were there to bid a final farewell.
Once the alcohol stopped flowing at all casino bars, people started dispersing, most stopping to check out their favorite piece of memorabilia on the way out.
Some found their way to Mr. Lucky’s, the diner where several people were overheard asking about the famed prime rib or steak and shrimp specials, former staples that had long since disappeared from the menu.
The restaurant remained operational throughout the day, as did the sportsbook. Slots were still in use sporadically, though few gamblers were playing.
Several parties were thrown on the property Saturday night to mark the end, leaving Sunday night and Monday morning mostly unceremonial.
A final sendoff was scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, with the property set to open as Virgin Hotels Las Vegas later this year.