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Downtown Las Vegas entertainment exec miffed at latest closing

All through the COVID phased-in reopening, Ken Henderson has had a seat at the table. He just needs to know which way to turn it.

The proprietor of Notoriety at Neonopolis is among many forced to close taverns, in the wake of Gov. Steve Sisolak’s order Thursday that bars in several Nevada counties to be shut down again after a surge in COVID cases.

Henderson, who also runs Best Agency in Las Vegas, said Friday of the governor’s directives, “I just don’t get it.”

Henderson is in a unique position in COVID’s phased-in reopening. The native Las Vegan has been presenting live entertainment at Notoriety under the venue’s tavern license with the city of Las Vegas. Many of those shows have peppered this column, including “The Hilarious Seven,” “Tenors of Rock” and “Late Night Magic.”

City officials, including licensing official Minerva Gomez, met with Henderson on Thursday to review Notoriety’s setup. At one point, the direction of the venue’s chairs in the middle of the room was discussed. Initially, officials suggested turning the seats away from the stage so the venue would not seem a true entertainment “event” space.

But Henderson was allowed to keep the socially distant seating pattern as it was, at least through Thursday night.

Notoriety has been operating at less than 50-percent capacity since Phase Two allowed bars and restaurants to do business. The room’s 50-percent capacity is 164. But that limit is further cut to about 50 customers, when entertainers are onstage. Now, the room is closed as it does not serve food — it is essentially an upper-level tavern with no customer access to the bar.

Henderson also cut loose on Facebook, posting a lengthy chronicle of his saga. In his recounting: “I am told that a guitar player singing in the background is OK, but if it’s a comedian or magician that you have to turn your chair to watch, it’s not OK.”

Henderson is a veteran entertainment exec. His Best Agency also books the strolling entertainers at St. Mark’s Square at The Venetian, and the performers at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan. Notoriety is not on Best Agency’s roster. But for Henderson, the third-floor annex has grown into a pet project.

“I would be the last guy to violate a safety directives, and I don’t screw around with my license,” he said. “I am bending to comply with every protocol.”

Henderson says he would prefer bars be reviewed independently to ensure they are operating within Phase Two requirements. He says many would stay open under that protocol. Others would not.

“We’ve had places that were elbow-to-elbow with people who weren’t wearing masks, in total violation,” Henderson says. “If 10 bars can’t follow the rules, so be it. Shut down the ones who don’t care. Let the ones who do care stay in business.”

Cher takes October, November off

Cher is the latest superstar resident performer to pull shows from the schedule. She has dropped her dates Oct. 21-Nov. 7 at Park Theater. Ticket-holders are directed to refunds at the original point of sale. COVID, naturally, is the stated reason.

As it stands, the only show listed at Park MGM for the remainder of 2020 is Joe Rogan’s appearance Dec. 11.

The Wynn scene

Lake of Dreams at Wynn Las Vegas is shutting down for renovations, and is set to reopen this fall. Famed director Kenny Ortega has been enlisted to redesign the lake’s multimedia show.

Delilah’s remains in the Wynn/Encore plans, too, officials confirmed this week. The Gatsby-fashioned supper club was to open in May. That timeline is off the table, but the hotel still aims to open the venue. The guess here is first quarter 2021, but that is just a guess.

Around the horn

Along the Strip, MGM Resorts International officials plan to keep bars that serve food and offer ambient entertainment open. Petrossian at Bellagio and Bar at Times Square at New York-New York are still offering live entertainment. The Mayfair Supper Club at Bellagio and Rose. Rabbit. Lie. at the Cosmopolitan are still serving food, serving drinks and staging singers, musicians and dancers. But the bars at those hybrid nightclubs are now shut down.

Caesars Entertainment has not announced specific plans for bars and lounges. Such venues as Piano Bar and Carnaval Court present entertainment in open bars where food is not served, and as such are being reviewed.

Italian American Club has officially canceled the July shows set for its showroom, starting with Jimmy Hopper’s appearance originally scheduled for Friday night. The dining and lounge are reopening this weekend.

The Vegas Room cabaret at Commercial Center is continuing its meal-entertainment format. Travis Cloer performs in the club Friday and Saturday night, and Patrick Hogan returns to the stage for brunch Sunday.

And at the lower level of Neonopolis, Don’t Tell Mama piano bar is halting business effective midnight Friday. The venue had been gradually growing its business in Phase Two.

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.

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