National accolades attract restaurant customers, motivate staff

National ratings mean a lot to Las Vegas restaurants — and in some ways you may not expect.

Yes, good ratings help drive business, restaurant representatives say. But they also build morale, encourage staff to strive for excellence and remind them of the reason they’re there: to serve you, the customer.

There aren’t as many national ratings systems looking over Las Vegas’ shoulder these days as there were a few years ago. France-based Michelin did its first — and only — guide to Las Vegas restaurants and hotels in 2009. The editor-in-chief of the Michelin Guides in North America (whose name is not released, because he or she is one of Michelin’s anonymous inspectors) said the guide was suspended because of poor sales but that the company is exploring the possibility of a digital version.

The last year the Mobil Travel Guide rated Las Vegas restaurants also was 2009.

That shines the spotlight on the diamonds of AAA, and less-formal, user-generated ratings such as Zagat and Yelp.

"To us here at Bellagio, they’re incredibly important," said Ana Marie Mormando, vice president of food and beverage at the resort that’s home to five-diamond winners Picasso and Le Cirque and four-diamond winners Prime, Sensi, Michael Mina and Jasmine. Mormando said she especially likes that the AAA guidelines focus on the customer.

"A lot of it is not so much the technical aspect, but treating hospitality with that sense of the welcoming factor," she said. "I think it really allows particularly tenured staff to understand the importance of that connection with the guest."

Of Michelin, she said, "We were highly disappointed when the guide dropped us after such a short time. Economics being what they are, totally understood. We certainly feel that we continue to have the best collection of culinary talent and that we have weathered the worst of times and are ready for a strong comeback."

While the vast majority of five- and four-diamond restaurants are on the Strip, Hank’s Fine Steaks at Green Valley Ranch Resort in Henderson has held the four-diamond award for several years.

"We make a big deal of it here on the property," said Marisa Scarpulla, food and beverage director. "Our team members are very motivated by it. It is such a big deal for us for the fact that we’re off-Strip and we hold some of the same ratings as restaurants on the Strip."

She said Hank’s has a big local following but that the award also pulls in some customers from more far-flung areas.

Mormando said that’s the case for Bellagio, too.

"Particularly now in the world of the Internet connection," she said. "People get in there and once they see your website and the validation of a certain rating, they are somewhat comfortable that they’re going to make the right decision."

Marssa at Loew’s Lake Las Vegas in Henderson also has held the four-diamond award for several years. Mark Ching, the resort’s executive chef, said he knows it drives business.

"For any of the industry-standard ratings systems, that’s the foundation," Ching said. "That’s where trade publications draw their references from, that’s where they do their research. That, in turn, spills over."

AAA representatives did not return requests for comment, but as listed in its website newsroom, the guidelines aren’t very specific. For example, for the five-diamond award, they say, "establishments are renowned and consistently provide a world-class experience. This is ‘haute cuisine’ at its best." Of the four-diamond award, they read, "Establishments are geared to individuals in search of a distinctive fine-dining experience."

There’s no mention of parking conditions or, as is rumored of Michelin, that a restaurant must have a particular grade of china to achieve its celebrated three-star rating. But Scarpulla said one requirement of a four-diamond restaurant is that it have its own restroom instead of sending customers into the casino or hotel.

Scarpulla said while she once looked at user-generated ratings such as Zagat and Yelp, she no longer gives them as much weight.

"Now it’s gotten so a guest gets upset over something silly and they bash a place," she said. "I just don’t think it holds what (AAA) holds."

But Mormando and Ching disagree. A former East Coast resident, Mormando said she was particularly pleased that New York-based Zagat now has a national presence because it’s highly regarded. As for the online Yelp, she said, "I think it is the ownership of the individual — that’s what makes it that much more interesting, whether you’re delivering what the particular guest is expecting."

And she said the two types of systems, which she views as "different but comparable," feed each other.

"The benchmark of the formal reviewers, per se, is a good measurement in general that aids you in delivering those individual reviews ultimately," she said.

"I think they have to work hand-in-hand," Ching said. "I believe that the industry critic-generated reviews, like AAA, those kinds of things set the benchmark. I believe the social sites reach further down to the grassroots level."

Ching added that he thinks user-generated reviews hold more weight with consumers now in part because of the ubiquity of social networking.

"It’s all vitally important now," he said. "Those vehicles are available to us now."

Scarpulla said ratings push restaurants to maintain high standards — and also to raise them.

"Five-diamond is just that extra level, really amazing standard of excellence," she said. "That’s what we hope — that we’re going to go up."

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review or 702-383-0474.

Take a tour of The Underground at The Mob Museum
Prince death investigation coming to an end
Prosecutors in Minnesota plan an announcement Thursday on the two-year investigation into Prince's death from a drug overdose Prince was 57 when he was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. An autopsy found he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl. Search warrants unsealed about a year after Prince died showed that authorities searched his home, cellphone records of associates and his email accounts to try to determine how he got the drug. The county attorney has scheduled a morning announcement at which time charges could be filed.
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Big Bounce America visits North Las Vegas
Billing itself as "the biggest bounce house in the world," Big Bounce America visits Craig Ranch Regional Park in Las Vegas.
David Copperfield in court after man injured during magic trick
The attorney for a British man who is suing illusionist David Copperfield said his client suffered serious injuries after being called on stage during Copperfield's show at MGM Grand.
Disneyland debuts new foods for Pixar Fest on Friday
Pixar Fest takes place ahead of California Adventure’s Pixar Pier expansion. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sneak Peek at New Decorations, Merch and Parade for Disneyland's Pixar Fest
Las Vegas Philharmonic celebrates 20th anniversary season
Orchestra’s 2018-19 season features premiere, more (Carol Cling/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Downtown Las Vegas' newest bar is a reggae lounge
Jammyland serves island-inspired cocktails. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
5 things connecting Las Vegas and Marilyn Monroe
1. Marilyn Monroe, known then as Norma Jeane, obtained her first divorce in Las Vegas at the age of 20 on September 13, 1946. 2. According to some biographers, Monroe lived at 604 S. 3rd Street for four months during the summer of 1946. The house has since been torn down and is now the site of a parking lot. 3. In 1954, Monroe almost married Joe DiMaggio in Las Vegas but the wedding was called off last minute. The wedding was to be held at the Hotel El Rancho Vegas which was located on the southwest corner of Sahara Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard. 4. Las Vegas has at least one road dedicated to the star. Marilyn Monroe Avenue is located in east Las Vegas and intersects with Betty Davis Street and Cary Grant Court. 5. There are currently more than 20 Marilyn Monroe impersonators for hire in the Las Vegas Valley.
This boozy milkshake is big enough to share with seven of your best friends
Fiddlestix makes an "8 Man Milkshake" that's packed with alcohol. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five Chris Stapleton songs you need to hear
D. Michael Evola opened E-String to make New York style pizza
Shamrock Macarons at Morels at Palazzo
Zuma serves a sushi roll topped with 24-karat gold
La Cirque covers their quail and foie gras in real gold
Jean-Georges Steakhouse seves chocolate gold bars
3 ways you can eat gold in Las Vegas
Artist Kathleen Nathan On The Virtues Of Library Galleries
The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District’s art galleries offers artists a more relaxed vibe for showing their work. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada SPCA Competes In Tournament Of Tails
The NSPCA and its mascot cat, Prince, are competing in an online voting challenge for a $5,000 grand prize.
Red carpet at MGM for Dan Reynolds Believer screening
Kats on the red carpet for the VIP screening of "Believer," the documentary by Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds about how the Mormon Church treats its LGBTQ members.
Eureka's cocktail comes with a "buzz button" that will shock your taste buds
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed
‘The Sopranos’ Prequel Film Confirmed Deadline reports that New Line has purchased Chase and Lawrence Konner’s screenplay for their “Sopranos” prequel film. The working title for the prequel is “The Many Saints of Newark.” Chase created the HBO series, which ran for six seasons, and Konner served as a writer. “The Many Saints of Newark” is set during the 1960s riots in the New Jersey city between the African-American and Italian communities. Multiple characters from the series, albeit younger versions, are expected to star in the film. The Sopranos won 21 Primetime Emmy Awards and five Golden Globe Awards during its run.
The Big Bounce America is coming to the Las Vegas Valley
The Big Bounce America. (Courtesy Big Bounce America)
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History
The 90th Oscars Were the Least Watched in History According to The Hollywood Reporter, 26.5 million watched the Oscars, a 20 percent drop from last year. The 26.5 million viewers would be an all-time low for the Oscars. Overnight returns had the lengthy ABC telecast averaging a 18.9 rating among households between 8 and 11 p.m. ET. Last year, 32.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the ceremony. The previous low for viewership was 32 million viewers in 2008 when Jon Stewart was host. The Shape of Water picked up an award for Best Picture, while Gary Oldman and Frances McDormand won Best Actor and Actress, respectively.
March First Friday theme is “Think”
First Friday art, culture, music and food event takes place on the first Friday of every month in and around the studios and galleries of the Arts District in downtown Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon)
Cirque’s One Night for One Drop gets ready for the big night
Cirque du Soleil’s “One Night for One Drop” performed a dress rehearsal for the annual benefit show. This year’s show at Mandalay Bay is based on the life of singer-songwriter Jewel. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The Kosher Experience provides kosher foods to Las Vegas families
2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas at The Smith Center
Ten touring productions are on The Smith Center’s 2018-19 Broadway Las Vegas season schedule. (The Smith Center)
Las Vegas bar serves French toast coated in Fruity Pebbles
A Las Vegas bar serves French toast kids (and adults) can only dream of! Born and Raised coats its Hendertucky Toast in Fruity Pebbles. First, the cereal is ground up in a food processor. Then, the batter is created with eggs, heavy cream, cinnamon and powdered sugar. The grill is coated with butter before dunking Texas toast in the batter, coating it in the cereal, and placing it on the grill. Once the toast is cooked on both sides, it's time for toppings. Hendertucky French toast is topped with whipped cream, strawberries and blueberries. It's finished with whiskey maple syrup. Would you try this?
Art Bell’s Top 10 Shows
A selection of radio host Art Bell’s most popular shows.
Calvary Christian Learning Academy, “There was no fair warning.”
Samantha O’Brien, whose three-year-old daughter attended the Calvary Christian Learning Academy daycare, found out Monday night when her daughter’s teacher called about the school closing.
Companies bet their futures on cryptocurrency
Two Las Vegas entrepreneurs talk about finding their niche in blockchain enabled technologies and digital currency.
Solar panels reduce energy bill for CCSD
Wilbur and Theresa Faiss Middle School is one of 42 CCSD schools with solar panel installations, saving approximately $514,000 per year in energy costs.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like