Plaza re-emphasizes gaming, and 44-year-old resort prospers

Plaza Las Vegas CEO Jonathan Jossel often logs on to online message boards where downtown Las Vegas casino customers leave random comments about their experiences.

What’s even more surprising? Not only does Jossel read the comments and suggestions, but he often replies. Jossel even requires the Plaza’s casino hosts to participate and answer the concerns of Plaza visitors. Some of the consumer reaction is not always complimentary.

“I want (Plaza employees) to understand what our customers are saying about us,” said Jossel, 31. “And, we want our customers to know we’re responding.”

It’s the “small things,” Jossel said, that helped the 44-year-old Plaza play a part in the recent revival in the downtown casino market. Jossel said he not only listens to customers, but also the Plaza’s employees. He often holds informal gatherings to gauge feedback.

“We have employees that have been here 20 or 30 years who know our customers,” he said of the 1,037-room property on Main Street across from the west end of the Fremont Street Experience.

A renewed emphasis on customer focus has also contributed to downtown’s recent success as Fremont Street’s dominant operators — Golden Nugget, Boyd Gaming Corp., and Derek Stevens — have added amenities to their resorts and upgraded marketing efforts.

“People are taking notice of downtown,” Jossel said. “We’re doing better at creating our own experiences and focusing on the customer.”

October marked the first monthly gaming revenue decline experienced by the downtown area since January. However, through the first 10 months of 2015, overall downtown gaming revenue has climbed 4.5 percent over 2014’s totals, fueled by increased visitation from the redeveloped East Fremont Street corridor.

Jossel said the Plaza benefited from a yearlong hotel room and property upgrades that closed portions of the resort in 2010 and 2011.

He also re-emphasized gaming.

The Plaza’s casino was reconfigured to include a “party pit” near the resort’s Main Street entrance with three blackjack games and a roulette table. The glass-walled room faces out toward Fremont Street with an atmosphere enhanced by music and lights that are intended to draw customers from the pedestrian mall. Live music was added to the casino’s floor seven nights a week. The casino, which has 600 slot machines, includes 30 vintage coin-in slot games that appeal to an older customer base.

The Plaza offers downtown Las Vegas’ only bingo room, which 344 seats, including 65 that are nonsmoking.

“I know it sounds crazy, but I’m a big fan of bingo,” Jossel said. “It gives us a core advantage.”

The proof is in the numbers. In October, when downtown casinos had an overall gaming revenue decline of 6.5 percent, Jossel said the Plaza reported a 13.9 percent gaming revenue increase. Hotel revenue during the same period was up more than 20 percent.

“We’re moving at our own pace,” he said.

David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said the Plaza is being run with the same emphasis brought by its former owner, the late downtown casino operator Jackie Gaughan, who pioneered customer service.

‘Basics done right’

“The Plaza’s turnaround shows that the basics done right never lose in Las Vegas,” Schwartz said. “Good gambling conditions, an eye on quality, and walking the floor go a long way.”

Jossel has been part of the downtown scene since 2007. He was an executive with Tamares Real Estate, a privately held international investment company that acquired a large swath of downtown Las Vegas casinos and real estate in 2005. Last year. Jossel joined PlayLV, the management company that operates Tameres’ casino holdings, which is now just the Plaza.

With Tamares, Jossel was involved with land acquisition. The company developed — and still owns — the East Fremont Street buildings that house Le Thai, Commonwealth, Beauty Bar, La Comida and other businesses that were considered the beginnings of the eastward migration.

He said the Plaza and other downtown casinos benefit from the East Fremont’s nongaming attractions, which he believes “put downtown on the map” and attract a new audience.

“It’s helped change the perception and shows that there is stuff to do downtown,” said Jossel, who said he resides in the downtown corridor. “We can walk to Container Park. Our customers will go down there and enjoy things for a night.”

Jossel, who was licensed by state gaming regulators last year, said his goal in coming to Las Vegas was reviving downtown. Now, his focus is the Plaza.

“When you have an owner that is not here on a daily basis, there is a vacuum,” Jossel said. “That connectivity with Tamares helps in terms of understanding the potential for continued investment in the building. I come from the perspective of the owner, because I was on that side. But now, I’m the operator and in some ways, I feel like an owner-operator.”

The Plaza added Hash-House A Go Go and Beer Garden, but is still considering other restaurant ideas.

Jossel said the next steps for the Plaza is to renovate areas of the property that weren’t touched in the 2011 changes, such as the second and third floor public areas. He also wants downtown to attract more conventions and meetings. The Plaza has 30,000 square feet of meeting space that will also be renovated.

In September, the property hosted a Blues music festival that had been scheduled for the now-closed Riviera. The event will return next year.

‘More folks downtown’

“It’s those type of events that bring more folks downtown,” he said.

Jossel sometimes worries the Plaza is overshadowed by its higher-profile competition.

That fact seems strange. The Plaza is the second-largest hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas, it sits on 17 acres, and its signature restaurant, “Oscar’s Beef, Booze & Broads,” is named for Oscar Goodman, the martini-drinking ex-mob lawyer and three-term mayor of Las Vegas.

“We have some characters and personalities downtown that have brought new ideas and a new attention, which is good for everyone,” Jossel said.

Last summer, Tamares sold the Las Vegas Club to Stevens — owner of the D Las Vegas and Golden Gate — for $40 million according CBRE. Tamares had been considering options for the aging building when Stevens stepped in a acquired the shuttered hotel-casino.

“The timing was right for everyone,” Jossel said.

He hopes Stevens “brings life to that corner of Main Street and Fremont Street” because “Main Street is the most important street downtown, I would say selfishly.”

Like Stevens, Jossel said he enjoys interacting with the Plaza’s customers.

“I’ve learned from Derek. You’ll find him at the (D’s) Long Bar, but I’m at the (Plaza’s) Omaha Bar,” Jossel said.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Find him on Twitter: @howardstutz

ad-high_impact_4
Business
Mecum Car Auction in Las Vegas
The Mecum Auctions is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Construction underway for new Google Data Center
Henderson is slated to be home to a new Google data center in December 2020. The Governor’s Office of Economic Development approved $25.2 million in tax abatements for Design LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Google. The company plans to build the data center on 64 acres of land on Warm Springs Road west of Boulder Highway.
Anthony Rufo talks about his new product, an in-home digital companion and monitor.
Anthony Rufo talks about his new product, HAPPIE Home technology, an in-home digital companion and monitor designed for unpaid family caregivers that gives personalized alerts, messages and reminders. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Holiday parades help bring shoppers to Downtown Summerlin
Sports Town USA floor manager Angela Gardonio talks about the work that goes into the Downtown Summerlin holiday parades and how they benefit her and other businesses there.
Final vote on CG Technology
Final commission vote on the $2 million settlement for CG Technology.
Happie Home Startup Establishing Headquarters In Las Vegas
Digital companion startup company Happie Home is establishing its headquarters in Las Vegas after receiving tax abatements from the Governor's Office of Economic Development on Nov. 15. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center
A Facebook-branded space inside of Macy’s at the Fashion Show shopping center will showcase 13 small businesses in November and December and seven in January. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
T-Mobile uses ticketing data to plan for event
T-Mobile Executive Director of Arena Operations explains how ticket sales data and demographics help plan staffing, vendors, parking and operations for an event.
Costco opens its doors in southwest Henderson
Costco has opened its fifth Las Vegas-area location near the intersection of St. Rose Parkway and Amigo Street. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas strip mall and office park
The Krausz Cos. and WG Group bought a strip mall and an office park in Las Vegas for nearly $80 million total. They acquired a portion of Tropicana Beltway Center in the southwest valley for $59 million. They also acquired the Westbay office complex in the Las Vegas Medical District. The buyers are former owners of The Gramercy, a once-mothballed mixed-use project in the Las Vegas suburbs. They sold The Gramercy in phases for more than $100 million.
Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry
Celebrity tattoo artist and business owner Mario Barth talks about the growth of the tattoo industry at The World of Tattoo industry trade show at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas
$7.5M Las Vegas pot dispensary opens near Las Vegas Strip
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. It has entertainment including an interactive floor and floating orbs. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars CEO to step down next year
Caesars Entertainment Corp. CEO Mark Frissora will leave the casino company in February. Frissora has been CEO since July 2015. He was named CEO right after Caesars' operating company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Caesars Entertainment emerged from bankruptcy protection in October 2017 Before Caesars, Frissora spent seven years as chairman and CEO of Naples, Fla.,-based Hertz He led the consolidation of the rental-car industry through Hertz‘s acquisition of the Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group.
Planet 13 in Las Vegas adds twist to marijuana dispensary look
Planet 13, which bills itself as one of the largest dispensaries in the world, opened to the public Thursday. The dispensary is located near the intersection of Desert Inn Road and Sammy Davis Jr. Drive, near Trump International, in Las Vegas. Planet 13 has plans in the future for a coffee shop, a tasting room for marijuana-infused beer and wine, a lounge for consuming marijuana on site if that is legalized and space for food.
Caesars Entertainment opening 2 resorts in Dubai
Cove Beach will open on Meraas’ Bluewaters Island in Dubai in November and Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai and The Residences at Caesars Palace Bluewaters Dubai will open in December. (Caesars Entertainment)
Bellagio, MGM Resorts International’s luxury hotel turns 20
The more than 3,000-room Bellagio hotel is situated on the site of the former Dunes Hotel. The Dunes was imploded in 1993, and construction of the Bellagio started in 1996. It cost $1.6 billion to build, making it the most expensive hotel in the world at the time. The Bellagio was former Wynn Resorts Ltd. Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn’s second major casino on the Strip after The Mirage. MGM Resorts International acquired the property from Steve Wynn in 2000. (Tara Mack/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Facial recognition software at G2E – Todd Prince
Shing Tao, CEO of Las Vegas-based Remark Holdings, talks about his facial recognition product. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant
Former NBA player, Shaquille O'Neal, speaks about his new Las Vegas chicken restaurant. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Bobby Baldwin to leave MGM
MGM Resorts International executive and professional poker player Bobby Baldwin is set to leave MGM.
Caesars has new armed emergency response teams
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has created armed emergency response teams. They are composed of former military and law enforcement officials. "These teams provide valuable additional security capabilities,” Caesars spokeswoman Jennifer Forkish said. Caesars is hiring Security Saturation Team supervisors, managers and officers, according to LinkedIn. The company did not say how many people it plans to hire for the units. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas, airlines prepare for CES
CES in January is expected to attract more than 180,000 attendees. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
AGS partners with Vegas Golden Knights
AGS is the nation’s second-largest manufacturer of Class II slot machines used primarily in tribal jurisdictions. It announced a marketing partnership with the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like