Updated March 5, 2020 - 12:49 pm
Philadelphia sports bar chain Chickie’s & Pete’s will help anchor a renovated restaurant lineup that the newly rebranded Sahara plans to roll out over the next year. Also on the bill are a new José Andrés concept, casual Italian fare, a food hall and hand-pulled noodles from a local favorite.
Most of the culinary renovations are planned for the west (Strip-facing) side of the property, and are expected to get underway in early May, after the NFL Draft festivities wind down. The largest involves converting the old Umami Burger spot, now operating as Beers & Bets.
“We’re going to go from about 5,500 square feet to about 9,000 square feet,” Sahara’s vice president of food and beverage Anthony Olheiser says.
He’s quick to add, however, that the new venue will be “modular, sort of broken down.” The current patio will be enclosed, with windows and pocket doors opening up to the Strip. The Sahara partners with William Hill for onsite sports betting. And there will be VIP virtual reality golf pods, as well multiple private dining rooms. As for the menu, expect several takes on a classic Philly cheesesteak, lobster pizza and other elevated pub grub, as well as Chickie’s & Pete’s signature crab fries.
Directly next door to the sports bar will be a small, casual Chinese noodle spot helmed by chef Guoming “Sam” Xin, known to many locals for his three off-Strip Noodle Man restaurants. After selling those and relocating temporarily to Portland, Chef Sam (as he prefers to be called) is back in town and developing a still-unnamed restaurant that will feature Northern Chinese dishes and a demonstration kitchen highlighting his famous hand-pulled noodles.
Moving north along the casino floor, the old Sayers Club space, operating as Club 101, will be converted into an Italian restaurant. And Sahara has approached José Andrés, who operates Bazaar Meat at Sahara, about developing a second concept with a lower price point for the adjacent area that now houses the rarely utilized Bazaar Casino.
“We want to really focus on some small plates, some mixology, desserts, in that area,” Olheiser says. “(Andrés has) a concept called barmini in Washington, D.C. And we’re looking to try to do maybe a different version of that, where it’s really cocktail-focused, and we’re pairing some food with the cocktails, versus cocktails with the food.”
In the meantime, on the east side of the building, the company is looking to create a food hall that will offer several elevated quick-casual concepts. Look for that in the area between the Mexican restaurant Uno Mas and the hotel’s lobby area.
Most of the new restaurants are expected to begin serving customers in late October or early November, Olheiser says, with the exception of the Andrés restaurant, which may not open until the first quarter of 2021.
(This story has been updated to clarify the status of a potential new José Andrés venue.)