The guys delivering On The Record nightclub to Park MGM claim they are so out of the box, “There is no box.”
No box, maybe — but there is a bus. A double-decker, fittingly, for twin nightlife bigwigs Jonnie and Mark Houston of Houston Hospitality.
“Every time you turn a corner, there’s a different experience,” Mark Houston says. “Usually when you go to these big venues, it’s just one big room.”
A decommissioned, 1963 Bristol Lodekka passenger bus helps take care of that issue. The vintage vehicle, popular in Great Britain in the 1950s and ’60s, is being converted into a DJ booth at the 11,000-square-foot party fortress. The concept hearkens to the music of the 1960s, or “to the Beatles and our dad,” as Mark Houston says, adding that if the brothers’ father replicated his living room in Vegas, “This is what it would look like.”
As the Houstons’ first Las Vegas nightlife venture, On The Record is due to open New Year’s Eve. The indoor-outdoor club offers a speakeasy feel as it sits across the casino floor from The Park Theater. The three-room venue is built with a replica record-store entry (where Dad will be thrilled to buy actual LPs), and several unmarked rooms that are only vaguely described.
Characteristic of Vegas nightspots, you have to visit On The Record to effectively absorb the vibe.
But the 39-year-old brothers do know how to create fun, in a stylish sort of way. They’ve opened a string of successful, places-to-be-seen nightspots in L.A., including Break Room 86, Black Rabbit Rose, No Vacancy, Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, and La Descarge.
The Houstons talked of their Vegas vision in a recent phone chat. Some highlights:
Vegas, specifically MGM Resorts, has been in the brothers’ plans for years: “The one thing I saw that was unique and different was that they’ve been running properties for years, and know every aspect of gambling to nightlife to the food operations,” Jonnie Houston says. “I felt like there was an open-mindedness to create and introduce something that was different and not fall into what is the norm, which is to make a mega-huge club with a lobby bar. We wanted a smaller, kind of simpler approach.”
What the Houstons are delivering is “hard to identify:” Mark Houston says that, and adds, “We’re not just some speakeasy bar, and not some social club. We’re not a nightclub, or a theatrical Broadway performance coming to Vegas. But I think what we creating encompasses all of that and it gives a nod to that. We’re a big fan of creating experiences that you don’t necessarily have to buy a bottle and drink to have fun.”
Rooms? We got rooms: “If you want to find a little nook in the corner, you can, even though some people want to be in the middle of all the hoopla with confetti cannons and lights and DJs,” Mark Houston says. “We are presenting something that embodies all of that and allows people to wander and escape. We have, like, four different clubs in one place. There’s The Living Room, The Record Parlor, and the main room as well as three private rooms.”
Live music along with DJs? Please? “We’ll be involved in choreographing and creating a show that happens every hour, on the hour and there will be a DJ and there will be live bands,” Jonnie Houston says. “So, there will multiple things going on, all night, not just one thing.”
The Houstons are not the first twins to run nightclubs in Vegas: Twin brothers Cy and Jesse Waits have a long history of operating nightlife venues in town, at Wynn Las Vegas and currently the new venues at the Palms. “Oh, of course! We know them. They are friends of ours,” Jonnie Houston says, laughing. “I’m sure they’ve been interviewed hundreds of times.”
Chris Rock once said, “You never want to be the oldest guy in the club,” but … “We have all ages come into our venue,” Mark Houston says. “We’ll have a ’70s rock ‘n’ roll bar, we’ll have areas where girls in their 20s will be on the dance floor with a group of 60-year-olds right next to them. The right music and the right environment can bring all age groups together so no one feels out of place.”
Music will carry the night: “This venue is going to be music-centric, and that’s what appealed to us,” Mark Houston says. “The partnership with T-Mobile Arena and The Park Theater, and our entrance being a vintage record shop, are all things that we love and embrace.”