Station Casinos brings back cafes

One thing about Las Vegas that never changes is that it’s always changing. And that includes its restaurants and even that venerable Las Vegas institution the coffee shop.

In 2010, when Station Casinos converted the coffee shops at most of its properties to Coco’s corporate-owned chain operations, it was viewed as part of a larger trend. But after about a year the company is switching them back, starting with Palace Station in late December and Sunset Station on Thursday, to be followed by Boulder Station in late March and Santa Fe Station and Texas Station by the end of June. (Red Rock Resort had retained its Grand Cafe, and Green Valley Ranch and Aliante Station have Original Pancake Houses instead of cafes.)

The change, it seems, was because of the proverbial popular demand.

“What we heard over and over from our guests,” said Mark Lavoie, corporate vice president of food and beverage, “is they really enjoyed our cafes. They wanted them back. There was enough of that voiced in the marketplace to really get our attention and we thought it was the right thing to do.”

The cost, he said, was about $3 million, mostly in design and construction. The openings are staggered to facilitate not only design and construction but also hiring and training, he noted.

The cafes are returning not only to in-house recipes and menu development, but also cafe pricing from the past.

“We looked at a lot of things that made it successful,” Lavoie said. “We started looking at menus back to 2004. We took a look at high-velocity items that resonated with guests and tweaked and elevated them. We didn’t want it to be just an average coffee shop, we really took the food up a couple of notches.”

An example of the lower prices and “from-scratch” food, he said, are rotating $7.99 dinner specials, which each evening feature a dish such as pot roast, pork chops, chicken potpie or roast turkey.

Lavoie said he doesn’t see the Coco’s conversion as a failed experiment.

“At the time, it was the best thing that we had,” he said. But, “when you get that much feedback from your guests, wanting something they’ve held near and dear for years, it was too compelling not to bring it back.”

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

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