83°F
weather icon Clear

Chuck Bowling still steady as Mandalay Bay reopens on Las Vegas Strip

Updated July 1, 2020 - 8:39 pm

Chuck Bowling is still figuring out how to keep his mask in place, and over his nose, while talking. It’s a process, similar to peeling away the face cover to eat or drink, then putting it back.

“I’m hoping we don’t have to be good at it for too long,” the Mandalay Bay president said with (I think) a smile during a chat in the lobby of his hotel. “But it is what we’re doing. … Right now, it’s whatever it takes to get us going again.”

Mandalay Bay and Aria have returned to business for MGM Resorts International, reopening at 11 a.m. Wednesday with 50-percent room capacity and many amenities activated. Such tourist favorites as Mandalay Bay Beach, Shark Reef, Stripsteak, House of Blues restaurant and Wolfgang Puck and Border Grill are all again serving guests and no the sharks aren’t masked.

Everyone else is, though, including Bowling. The world has once again turned over for the veteran resort exec, who during the lockdown was assigned stewardship over Luxor along with Mandalay Bay, where he’s served for a decade. In April, Bowling stepped in for Cliff Atkinson to run Luxor, as MGM Resorts consolidated its upper-management lineup after the COVID shutdown.

Until COVID-19, Bowling had never trained, or led any training, for pandemic preparation in his career or his schooling at Georgia State University in Atlanta. As he jokes, “I might have slept through that class. I don’t remember that one, no.”

But Bowling has real-time experience in crisis management, having been in place at Mandalay Bay in the arduous recovery from the Oct. 1 shootings.

“I realized that you can’t be alone. I have leaned on so many people in the past, here at Mandalay Bay and throughout MGM Resorts, time and time again,” he said. “That is something I’m drawing on today. As much as I want to be everywhere, I can’t. But I know everyone’s got my back.”

Entering the July 4 weekend, Las Vegas is under scruitiny across the country because of its very tourist appeal. The city’s casinos, taverns and pool parties are reopening. During the holiday, we can watch for eyebrow-raising pics on social media of folks milling and swilling at close distance.

I asked Bowling how he and his staff could effectively monitor guests’ conduct when they are in Vegas Mode. Enforcing face coverings is a start.

“We have masks for everyone,” Bowling said as he worked to keep his own cover in place while talking. “At this point in time, 95 percent of the people coming in are wearing masks. Unfornately, we have some people who won’t wear them, and they’re not welcome here.”

Bowling has the message down: “Come in, have fun, laugh a lot, play a lot, but be safe.” That final message is the most important, and fit for a face mask.

Tall drink o’ water

Brad Garrett has been sober since April 1997, having given up the drink sometime after falling from a double-decker bus while touring with Julio Iglesias.

“I was getting off and I was on the top level,” Garrett recalled during our chat Tuesday night on the R-J’s Instagram Live page. “But I thought I was on the bottom level.”

Garrett stopped drinking in his second season on “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and stayed away from stand-up for nearly seven years. He was reluctant to re-enter live comedy, in part because he wasn’t confident he could be funny while sober.

“A performer, a comic, a musician — anybody in the arts, a painter, their first fear of getting clean is they will lose their craft,” Garrett said. “I won’t be as loose, I won’t be as fluid, I won’t be as reckless. That was my biggest fear.”

Garrett returned to the stage when series star and good friend Ray Romano invited him to the stage, unannounced, one night at the Mirage.

“Ray said, ‘Come on out and make fun of me,’ and I hadn’t been onstage in 6 1/2 years,” Garrett said. “I was never a good monologist, I was never a great writer. My thing was always improv. In the old days when I would open for the big acts, my act didn’t take off until I started making fun of the crowd. I did that with Ray, and I was bit again.”

Garrett and Romano co-headlined at the Mirage for a few years before Garrett opened his original Vegas club at Tropicana in 2009. He’s been at the MGM Grand Underground since 2012. He credits Romano, who has twice appeared at the club, for the re-igniting his stand-up career.

“After Ray blew up in three years on ‘Raymond,’ he never changed,” Garrett said. “He’s a rare, rare guy. … He didn’t change, at all. He has the same friends he went to high school with, he’s a family guy. It’s just more reason to love this guy, no pun intended.”

Garrett plans a new podcast, “No Prisoners,” on July 6. The show focuses on such real-life issues as mental health, depression and addiction. It’s not a comedy show. Garrett is saving that for the stage.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His PodKats podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Television shows could fuel Las Vegas tourism rebound - VIDEO
CBS reality dating competition series “Love Island" and ABC’s “Shark Tank” are set to film upcoming seasons in Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garth Brooks reschedules concert at Allegiant Stadium - Video
The country superstar made the announcement Wednesday morning that he has moved his Aug. 22 date at the stadium back to Feb. 27.
Bart Torres of ‘Highway Vibe’ memoriam
Vegas broadcaster Bart Torres of ‘Highway Vibe’ dies at 54. He was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame in September 2018. (Greg “Gonzo” Spillane/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Naya Rivera confirmed dead after body is found - Video
Naya Rivera, the "Glee" star, went missing during a boating trip with her 4-year-old son at Lake Piru in California last week. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Actress Kelly Preston dies at 57 - Video
Kelly Preston, actress and wife of John Travolta, had been privately battling breast cancer for two years. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas bar workers frustrated, angry as restrictions return - VIDEO
In Southern Highlands, the Italian restaurant Spaghetty Western, while remaining open, had to shut down its bar. Bartender Scarlett Brock, who is still waiting to receive unemployment payments from the initial shutdown, calls the financial impact of being out of work again “a knock in the face.” (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'In the Dark' at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum - Video
Laurie Thomas, controller for the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, discusses the new exhibit, "In the Dark," in Las Vegas on Thursday, July 9, 2020. (Elizabeth Page Brumley/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Summertime Dole Whip Cocktails
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer at The Venetian has two new Dole Whip cocktails. The Golden Tiki, which offers a line of Dole Whip cocktails, is reopening Wednesday.
Lin-Manuel Miranda says 'Hamilton' criticism is 'fair game'
Lin-Manuel Miranda has responded to people claiming he presented an idealized version of the Founding Fathers. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Charlie Daniels, 'Devil Went Down to Georgia' singer, dead at 83 - Video
Charlie Daniels, the country music star, was struck by a hemorrhagic stroke in Hermitage, Tennessee. His death was confirmed on Monday. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jennifer Romas takes her 'Sexxy The Show' to Dreamland Drive-In - Video
Jennifer Romas, producer, director, choreographer and star “Sexxy The Show" at Westgate took her show to Dreamland Drive-In at FreshWata Studios in Las Vegas. The show, which is currently dark at the Westgate, is a benefit for charities Golden Rainbow of Southern Nevada, The Actors Fund and Pawtastic Friends. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Wynn Las Vegas’ ‘re-imagined’ buffet - VIDEO
On June 18, The Buffet at Wynn reopened to customers with what the resort called “a re-imagined all-you-can-eat concept that combines the abundance of the traditional buffet with the benefits of a full-service restaurant.” (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jimmy Kimmel issues public apology for past blackface sketches - Video
On Tuesday, late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel took to Twitter to apologize for his blackface impression of NBA star Karl Malone. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged guitar sold for record-breaking $6M - Video
The 1959 Martin D-18E, which was often out of tune, was expected to fetch between $1million and $2 million. The iconic guitar was sold during the online 'Music Icons' sale hosted by Julien's Auctions over the weekend. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joel Schumacher, director of 'Lost Boys' and Batman films, dead at 80 - Video
Schumacher died in New York City after battling cancer for a year. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'We are not a monolith' - Video
Lance Smith, a multidisciplinary artist, talks about how black artists should be acknowledged for their work and not tokenized or only have their work connected to trauma. "Blackness, we are not a monolith, we deserve to live and create in a world that respects us as we are." (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Amid protests and pandemic, black artists view works as means to empathy, healing - Video
Erica Vital-Lazare is an artist, writer, sometimes activist and professor at the College of Southern Nevada. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
PodKats! with Ross Mollison
On this edition of PodKats! Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes is joined by the founder of Spiegelworld and producer of Las Vegas Strip shows such as "Absinthe," and "Opium," Ross Mollison.
Paramount pulls 'Cops' series in wake of protests - Video
Paramount Network recently confirmed their decision to cancel the long-running reality show, "Cops." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Restaurants add COVID-19 surcharge - Video
Some Las Vegas Strip restaurants are adding a COVID-19 surcharge to their bills to help offset the additional costs of reopening. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kats hangs at Mayfair Supper Club as Bellagio reopens
Las Vegas Review-Journal man-about-town columnist John Katsilometes visits The Mayfair Supper Club at the Bellagio on the Strip in Las Vegas on the first night after reopening Thursday, June 4, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas performers adapt to pandemic restrictions - Video
The coronavirus pandemic has forced creative people in Las Vegas, a city that thrives on live performance, to adapt to new or changed ways to entertain. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas woman brings Blue Angel to life - Video
When Las Vegas shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, Victoria Hogan created the Blue Angel costume and performance, emulating the statue locals know and love in order to connect with others in a time when connection isn’t as possible. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‘Hamilton’ postponed as Smith Center remains dark indefinitely - VIDEO
The hit musical 'Hamilton' was supposed to run from September through October at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Strip with Kats
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife Gilligan Stillwater GIbbons and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Las Vegas Strip with Kats - Video
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife, Gilligan Stillwater Gibbons, and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ex-WWE star Shad Gaspard found dead on beach - Video
Shad Gaspard, 39, the former WWE wrestler, was found dead Wednesday morning on the shoreline of Venice Beach in California. Gaspard went missing over the weekend. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffets won’t reopen soon, but they may return eventually - VIDEO
In a Tuesday earnings call, Frank Fertitta III, CEO of Station Casinos parent company Red Rock Resorts, said buffets won’t be among the amenities included in the early stages of the resorts’ reopenings. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Hamilton' to debut on Disney+ in July - Video
The film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical was originally set for theatrical release in October. The musical’s director, Tommy Kail, shot three live performances featuring the original Broadway cast. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Little Richard dead at 87 - VIDEO
Little Richard, the pioneer and rock 'n' roll originator, died on Saturday, May 9. His son, Danny Penniman, confirmed the news but the cause of death is unknown. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST