Circa is Las Vegas pioneer Derek Stevens’ chosen title — VIDEO

Updated January 10, 2019 - 8:28 pm

Derek Stevens is a Las Vegas pioneer of today. It’s a role he so relishes and accepts that the announcement of the name of his new Fremont Street resort was peppered with references to the pioneers of the past.

The video leading to the name Circa Hotel & Casino on Thursday was highlighted by a video montage of Vegas legends: “Circa 1941, Jackie Gaughan, El Cortez. Circa 1951, Benny Binion, Binion’s Horseshoe. Circa 1966, Jay Sarno, Caesars Palace. Circa 1969, Kirk Kerkorian, International.” The lineup also recited Sam Boyd, Lefty Rosenthal, Steve Wynn, Bob Stupak, up through the Twin Towers of Goodman, Oscar and Carolyn.

The video’s voice-over intones, “Today, channeling the spirit of those legendary pioneers of the past, we’re taking their vision beyond all they’ve done before, and going all-in …” The song “Believer,” by budding Vegas legends Imagine Dragons, trumpets Circa as the resort’s new name. One day, we’ll refer to the moment as, “Circa January 2019.”

The flamboyant announcement was pure Stevens. Why issue a news release when you can hold a naming party at Downtown Las Vegas Events Center? That’s how Stevens and his considerably less-grandiose brother, Greg Stevens, unveiled the name of the first new, built-from-the-ground-up resort on Fremont Street since 1980.

A resort operator with a branded trench coat for every occasion, Stevens reasons, “We’re located downtown, and there have been so many great entrepreneurs around, Las Vegas, historically, we thought it would remind us of those great, great moments.

“We’re a conduit from the past, right through tomorrow.”

Stevens arrived in Las Vegas in 2006, when he took over Golden Gate, “A great place to start,” as he says, recalling the days more than a decade ago when he moved to Vegas from Detroit. “I loved the business, the tables, the slots, the food and beverage, and I’ve always been an operator who, once the meetings are over, you can see me at the casino bar meeting customers.”

Derek and his wife, Nicole, have their own reserved nameplates at Longbar at the D Las Vegas. This is the D’s cool hang.

Stevens bought up an entire city block and knocked down Las Vegas Club to make space for Circa. He took over the former Glitter Gulch, Bayou and Mermaid’s buildings, and snapped up a little T-shirt shop, too, that needed to be taken apart for the new hotel.

First, Stevens thought of just renovating the Las Vegas Club. But he didn’t like its design and figured it needed to be totally wiped out to create something brand new. Besides, as he said, “The ceilings weren’t tall enough. People are taller than they were 50 years ago.”

Working with an operator with a legendary heritage — Bill Boyd, son of Sam — and Boyd Gaming officials, Stevens cut a check for a parcel between Main Street Station and Plaza. That will be the site of Circa’s new garage.

Sorry, I should say, that will be the site of Garage Mahal.

“When we worked out that deal, it really changed the scope of what we had planned,” Stevens says. “The great, great Garage Mahal. It’s going to be the first resort garage where ride-share technology is part of the design. It’s going to be a real transportation hub.”

Circa’s outside bar will be the longest outside bar in the city (maybe it’ll be called LongerBar, or Longbar II, or Longbar 2.0). The sportsbook will be three stories tall — taller than any in the city — with the greatest LED display of any sportsbook anywhere.

Stevens is especially passionate about the sports-wagering fortress. He nearly becomes weepy when he remembers his first visit to the Superbook at Las Vegas Hilton, which he says is “a memory that is etched in my soul.”

The name of the hotel took a great deal of thought and research, of course. Stevens says he looked at many names that evoked memories of Las Vegas in its formative years.

“There were a lot of runner-up names, and we took a look at every old casino name,” Stevens says. “There was the Overland on this site (the old hotel burned down, circa 1910), the Mint, next door. I’m a big Jay Sarno fan, and when (Las Vegas historian and author) David Schwartz wrote “Grandissimo,” I locked up that. It was always right there.”

I would have wagered on Grandissimo, actually. The Ambassador would have worked, too. But that’s a better fit for the man who runs the joint.

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

Entertainment Videos
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of theatre talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit
The new exhibit features original and recreated props and plenty of interactive features. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas
The Writer's Block and Lucy are open in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas ice cream shop offers everything in the kitchen sink
Have you ever wanted to eat an ice cream sundae out of a kitchen sink? Who hasn't, right? At Sloan's, located inside the Venetian, you can do just that. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Maxie’s in Las Vegas puts eggs Benedict in a box
Chef David Mangual at Maxie’s in The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas makes his eggs Benedict in a brioche “box” layered with spinach, bacon and tomatoes and topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caviar Twinkie Served at Stripsteak in Las Vegas
Stripsteak Executive Pastry Chef Vivian Chang and Chef Gerald Chin create a novel savory food item that looks like a familiar sweet treat at the restaurant in Las Vegas. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
NAB attendees battle to qualify for Fortnite event
NAB is sponsoring an online video game event with Epic Games’ Fortnite allowing attendees to qualify to go head to head with top players. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Arctic Shrimp Sandwich at Saga near Las Vegas
Chef Gert Kvalsund, a native of Norway, founded Saga Pastry + Sandwich in Henderson to give Scandinavians a taste of home. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk UNLVino
Guy Fieri and Sammy Hagar talk about the upcoming UNLVino vent. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Christie Brinkley at Smith & Wollensky
Christie Brinkley, in town for her run in “Chicago” at the Venetian Theatre, paid a visit to the Grand Canal Shoppes’ still-under-construction Smith Wollensky on Monday for a ceremonial first toast at the bar. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Two artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas
2 artists create a mural for peace in Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Inside Kaos nightclub and dayclub
A look at new club at Palms.
CinemaCon Brings Theater Professionals To Caesars
CinemaCon is not just celebs, it's also a place where theater owners can browse the latest in seats, projectors and concessions. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas restaurants provide a taste of ballpark food
The Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, will serve food from Giada De Laurentiis and a team of favorite local restaurants. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Taste of the Town: Bobby Flay Opens Shark at the Palms - VIDEO
Bobby Flay opens Shark at the Palms; his first high-end restaurant in 15 years.
Chef Marc Marrone at T-Mobile Arena
Chef Marc Marrone has opened a bao cart at T-Mobile Arena. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bellagio fountains celebrate 'Game of Thrones'
A medley of the theme for HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and the song “Winter Is Here” from the show premiered at the Bellagio Fountains water show on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday, March 31, 2019. The new number will run in rotation through April 13. The series premieres its eighth and final series on April 14. (Mick Akers/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegan Aunt Chippy talks about being on Jimmy Kimmel's show
Concetta Potenza, Aunt “Chippy” to Jimmy Kimmel, talks about her first time being featured on her nephew’s show. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro at Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails
The "Flight Unknown" At Bar Centro At Bazaar Meats Las Vegas Features 5 Innovative Cocktails (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cotton candy crowns pancakes in Las Vegas
At Maxie’s at The Linq Promenade in Las Vegas, executive chef David Mangual fills pancakes with fruit and cream cheese and piles on pastel cotton candy, which is melted in a stream of chocolate syrup. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Bananas Foster Pancakes go up in flames at The Stove near Las Vegas
Chef Antonio Nunez at The Stove in Henderson, near Las Vegas, flames the pancakes tableside for a fiery presentation. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
El Loco Rollercoaster at Circus Circus' Adventuredome
The El Loco rollercoaster opened at the Circus Circus' Adventuredome in February 2014. It features a 90-foot ascent, followed by a drop that produces a negative 1.5 "verticle G," a 180-degree turn, and reverse 240-degree roll that turns into an inverted drop. The coaster reaches a maximum speed of 45 mph and is the only indoor coaster of it's kind in the U.S., and is the second indoor El Loco coaster in the world, according to MGM Resorts.
Bartending flair competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show
Highlights from the ten contestants who competed for the Shake It Up Flair and Classic Competition at the Nightclub & Bar Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Justin Kingsley Hall shares details on his next gig
Chef Justin Kinglsey hall shares some details about the newArts District restaurant he's developing with Kim Owens. (Al Mancini/Las Vegs Review-Journal)
Film prompted Carrie Hogan to found 2 farmers markets in Las Vegas
Carrie Hogan founded Fresh 52 Farmers and Artisan Market in Las Vegas after realizing she had to do something about the influence of factory farms on the food supply. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Seafood dishes being made at Pasta Shop near Las Vegas
Executive chef Edwin Martinez incorporates fresh pasta into Lobster Salmon and Saffron Shrimp Sauté at Pasta Shop Ristorante & Art Gallery in Henderson, near Las Vegas. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
Andrew Carmean will be the only local participant in upcoming demolition derby
Andrew Carmean, a demolition driver, will be the only local participant in upcoming derby at the Plaza Hotel. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Masso Osteria first anniversary in Las Vegas
Scott Conant was in town Tuesday to host a one-year anniversary party for his Red Rock Resort restaurant Masso Osteria.
Home Front Page Footer Listing