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‘Nah, I’m good’: Emmitt Smith has no plans to return to Tropicana

Updated April 1, 2024 - 7:15 pm

In the spring of 1991, Emmitt Smith brought his family to Las Vegas.

“We were able to afford four or five days of hanging out,” Smith says as he is about to open his restaurant at Fashion Show mall on the Strip. “We played golf. I had my best friend, mom and dad, the family came out and we enjoyed Las Vegas for the first time.”

That was just after Smith’s rookie season with the Cowboys. The NFL’s all-time leader in rushing yards and three-time Super Bowl champion is asked where he stayed in ‘91.

“Yeah, I stayed at the Tropicana,” Smith says, smiling. “That was the first place I ever stayed in Las Vegas.”

What! I suggest Smith could return this weekend, as the Tropicana closes forever.

“Nah, I’m good, I’m good!” Smith says, laughing. “It’s probably the same place. They probably put another coat of paint on it, and that’s it.”

Smith’s new restaurant sits where Sugar Factory was located, facing Wynn/Encore and The Venetian/Palazzo across the Strip. Resorts World is also in the neighborhood. “We have more than 10,000 hotel rooms, a lot of eyeballs, in this location,” Smith says. “We’re on the 50-yard line of the neighborhood.”

Emmitt’s Restaurant street-level piece is open now. The second-level venue, with a sports lounge at the center, should be on line by the end of the year.

As emcee J.T. The Brick said in introducing Smith, the Pro Hall of Famer’s NFL record of 18,355 yards is likely never to be broken. The record, and Smith’s football-field-long list of achievements, took time and diligence to amass. He is applying the same persistence to his Strip-side restaurant.

“I look at my career in terms of the Cowboys. In my rookie season, we went 7-9 and didn’t make the playoffs,” Smith says. “In my second year, we made the playoffs. In my third year, ‘92, we won the Super Bowl. To me, success is not necessarily in the grand opening. It’s in the sustainability. That’s what we hope to build here, sustainability.” And to remain open long enough for a fresh coat of paint.

Nod to the Trop

Spiegelworld is lassoing soon-to-be former Tropicana employees by offering $50 tickets to “Atomic Saloon Show” at Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. Those staffers can show employee ID or credentials at the box office for the discount. The offer runs through May. Call 702.534-3419 or go to Spiegelworld.com for intel.

Cool Hang Alert

Chase Brown is a country sensation and tips champion, raking in between $400-$800 in his shows at Notoriety Live. In his 100th show at the venue in December, he collected $1,800 in gratuities from his fervent fan base. Catch him 7 p.m. Fridays in “Vegas Country.” He’s the guy in the leather vest, cowboy hat, likely riding a mirror-plated ladder.

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 X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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