Will Guidara knows what he wants in a Las Vegas Strip restaurant and nightlife venue.
Soon, you will know it, too.
“What we always try to do is build the experience we want to receive,” Guidara says as he steals away few moments during Saturday night’s VIP opening party of NoMad Bar inside NoMad Las Vegas. “We are looking for a something that is over-the-top and you can only get in Las Vegas, but also with an intimacy that contrasts with everything else on the Strip.
“We want an oasis in the middle of Las Vegas.”
The “we” in this instance are Guidara and Daniel Humm, the star chef and co-founder of Make It Nice, which runs the food-and-beverage program at NoMad Hotel at The Park MGM. Sydell Group operates Nomad Hotel itself.
The 293-room hotel on the property’s top four floors and NoMad Bar are open now. NoMad Restaurant starts taking reservations tonight.
As the opening-night party indicated, this is a spot where the suited can get silly.
“This is not a fussy restaurant, because we are not uber-serious people,” the 38-year-old Guidara says. “We take what we do seriously, but not ourselves seriously at all. We like to have a party.”
Three smaller NoMad enclaves are placed adjacent to the main dining room: The private Cellar, the Parlour; and the Salon.
Those in attendance at the opening fete included such hospitality industry power players as MGM Resorts International Chairman Jim Murren, MGM Resorts President Bill Hornbuckle, development company Sydell Group Chief Executive officer Andrew Zobler, Chef Christina Tosi of Milk Bar at the Cosmopolitan, and Mark and Jonnie Houston of the upcoming On the Record at The Park MGM.
Guidara and Humm also operate Eleven Madison Park, NoMad New York and NoMad Los Angeles. Eleven Madison Park has earned three Michelin stars. NoMad is thus a refined effort, but you don’t need to speak in a whisper.
More from the party and the convo with Guidara:
Credit “O,” in part, for inspiring NoMad: “My dad ran the Wolfgang Puck restaurant at MGM Grand 20 years ago, and took my mom and I to ‘O’ at the Bellagio,” Guidara says. “I fell in love with the city from that point forward. I was just inspired by the theatricality of it, the showmanship, and that’s what we have always tried to deliver in our restaurants.”
Of height and books: NoMad’s main dining room stands two stories and seats 120 guests, in the middle of a library of about 25,000 books from David Rockefeller’s collection that the company snapped up at auction. The proprietors are fast to note the authenticity of the entire collection, as man of the books are marked with Rockefeller’s own handwritten notes.
They control the environment: Guidara says his company had received offers to open on the Strip for years, but didn’t held off.
“We waited this long because we liked the idea of being able to control the environment,” he says. “We did not want our guests to have to walk through whole slot-machine flow to get to our restaurant, we did not want our guests to be walking through in the morning to be inundated with inappropriate music that is extreme for the morning.”
Embracing the Las Vegas heritage: Guidara and Humm have visited restaurants along the Strip and across town. They pocketed many design and aesthetic ideas in their travels.
“We have a red rose cart because I was inspired by the cart at Hugo’s Cellar,” Guidara says. “We have tall banquettes because of the banquettes at the Golden Steer. There are things that exist in Las Vegas that don’t exist anywhere else. Sammy Davis Jr. sat in this banquette? That’s incredible! I’m not just saying this: I love everything Las Vegas was, and everything Las Vegas is.”
He can keep the beat: “I’m a drummer, and I love live music, so that alone should tell you I want something that’s not too garish,” says Guidara, who booked Questlove as his VIP DJ and also had L.A. jazz front man Chris Norton and popular Vegas vocalist Nieve Malandra play the opening party. “I love Neil Peart of Rush, and I graduated (high school ) in 1997, so the Dave Matthews Band was a big thing to me.”
The work at NoMad is ongoing: “We have a lot left to figure out, and a lot more to see in Las Vegas,” Guidara says. “We are not a themed thing, but we are a Las Vegas thing. So we are still being informed about where we can go with this. But I can tell you, this business is half what you’re serving, and half making sure people want to receive it.
“If you’re cynical and not willing to have fun, it’s not going to play, no matter what it is. But if you’re willing to have fun, this is where you will want to be.”