Another piece of Las Vegas history is about to make a comeback, in new-and-improved form.
Vickie’s Diner, which had become a landmark at the old White Cross Drugs on Las Vegas Boulevard South, will open July 28 in its new location in the Commercial Center, a venerable spot at 953 E. Sahara Ave.
“It’s been a year next month since we closed the old diner,” said owner Vickie Kelesis. “Thank God, I’m looking forward to serving my people again.”
Kelesis said that during the closure, she received calls and emails from people wondering about the reopening.
“So many people, for all 11 months,” she said. “Local, from out of town, even from Europe.” An invitation-only grand opening, complete with local dignitaries, is scheduled for July 27.
Just after the closure in August, manager Michael Hawkins said Kelesis is a big part of the restaurant’s appeal.
“She’s amazing,” he said then. “Everybody loves Vickie. It’s like going home for dinner.”
Hawkins said Tuesday that at 2,700 square feet, the new place is nearly triple the size of the old one, and it has double the seating capacity. He said the space formerly was a dental office, which was gutted and rebuilt.
“We used all of the old booths,” he said, which provided half of the new seating, with new furniture for the rest. “We still have our counter, we still do milkshakes, we still cook everything right in front of everybody. It looks the same. We tried to keep the look and feel the same as it was before.”
The menu’s the same, too, which will no doubt come as a welcome relief to Vickie’s crowd of regulars, some of whom came in daily for specialties including chicken-fried steak made fresh in-house daily, 1-pound ham steaks, burgers and old-fashioned liver and onions.
While Vickie’s had only been at the White Cross for six years, the old diner location, previously called Tiffany’s, had a long and storied history. Hawkins said in August that Vickie Kelesis’ husband, John, remembers, in the ’70s, Elvis Presley coming into the White Cross Drugs lunch counter, sitting on the end stool and eating well-done New York steak and eggs. Other famous customers, Hawkins said, reportedly included Liberace and the Rat Pack.
Whether the new place attracts celebrities because of its proximity to the Strip remains to be seen, but for now, Vickie Kelesis is just reveling in the newness of it all.
“I love it,” she said.
And in case you’re wondering if the famous (or infamous) Clint Eastwood painting made the transition …
“Absolutely,” Hawkins said. “We got it cleaned, and framed and everything. It looks great.”