Elizabeth Blau has opened some of the world’s most breathtaking restaurants, many of them along the Strip.
But the honor of being chosen to oversee the development and reopening of the fabled Rainbow Room on the 65th floor at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York is near the top of her impressive list of accomplishments.
“It’s hard to top Wynn or Bellagio, but it’s right there as a career highlight,” said Blau, a native New Yorker who has been on the project for three years with her husband, chef Kim Canteenwalla.
“I’m so proud of all the work I’ve had in Las Vegas, but (it was great) to be part of a team that restored such a cultural landmark,” said Blau, one of the leading consultants in the culinary world.
Her company, Blau &Associates, was hired by landlord Tishman Speyer to assist in completing the redevelopment of the space, from kitchen design to hiring the chefs.
The Rainbow Room, which recently celebrated its 80th birthday, was closed for five years until its reopening Oct. 1.
One of New York’s most romantic settings, the Rainbow Room offers a 360-degree view of the city and its landmarks.
Blau recalls going to the Rainbow Room as a child, with her grandparents “and when I was a grad student at Cornell, our professor took one of our classes there for a tour by Joe Baum.” He was a legendary restaurateur known for introducing high style to many of New York’s elite dining spots.
The reopening had New York abuzz. Barbara Walters had her 85th birthday party there. Paul McCartney and Donald Trump were among the big names that checked the famed art deco space. It was open to the public on Sunday for brunch, which cost $90.
“I’ve never worked on a project that had such an emotional attachment. One lady came in and started crying,” Blau said.
“Another said, ‘My grandmother taught me to dance here.’ Others remembered they had their first date there or first ballroom dance.”
Jeff Beacher on Sunday cleared up the status of “Beacher’s Madhouse,” confirming he was facing “a very serious surgery” but said any suggestion that he was closing the club at the MGM Grand would be inaccurate.
He said the surgery “will knock me out for a couple weeks,” but when he returns, the plan is to go to a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday schedule.
The club has been on a Thursday, Friday and Saturday schedule since it opened around New Year’s.
The rumors started flying when an MGM Grand memo surfaced saying “Madhouse” was going to be dark until Oct. 21.
“Instead of fully closing for three weeks while I’m recovering, I wanted to stay open so my staff continued to receive weekly paychecks,” he said in an email.
He joked that “as far as rumors go that I may be dying, I made sure my will was updated. I left half my fortune to immediate family and the other half to my 4-foot-1-inch best friend and co-emcee Donny Davis. However, he had stipulations where, in order for him to receive the money, he has to pass a breathalyzer for 365 days straight. He had three year to complete that task or the money gets donated to various health charities.”
THE SCENE AND HEARD
Former Mayor Oscar Goodman will host his latest speaking series dinner Thursday at the Plaza’s steakhouse, Oscar’s Beef, Booze and Broads. The title of the talk: “Is There a Mafia?: Deep Dark Secrets of the Mafia Induction Ceremony.”
Rick Harrison of the hit reality TV shows “Pawn Stars” and “Pawnography,” leading motorcycle riders in the inaugural “Pawn Stars Poker Run” through Las Vegas on Sunday to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation of Nevada. … “Extra!” host Mario Lopez and his wife, Courtney Mazza Lopez, celebrating their birthdays and the launch of his new book, “Just Between Us,” at Andrea’s and XS on Friday. In his book, he dishes on an affair with a “pop star” during a visit to Las Vegas and a bachelor party gone awry in Las Vegas that led to the end of his marriage to former Miss USA Ali Landry. Lopez says Mazza is OK with the disclosures “except she keeps hitting me up with, ‘Who’s that pop star?’ ’’ … At the grand opening of Fright Dome at Circus Circus on Friday: horror star Sid Haig; horror special effects legend Gary J. Tunnicliffe; UFC greats Chuck Liddell and Frank Mir; UFC fighter Heather Jo Clark; “Ghost Adventures” stars Zak Bagans and Aaron Goodwin; illusionist Dan Sperry; rock star artist Michael Godard; Horny Mike from “Counting Cars”; Dirk Vermin from A&E’s “Bad Ink”; rocker Paul Shortino; former NBA player Jerome “Junkyard Dog” Williams; “American Idol” Season 3 finalist Jasmine Trias; “Rock of Ages” star Mark Shunock; and master magician Lance Burton.
THE PUNCH LINE
“The Secret Service let an armed ex-convict ride on the same elevator as President Obama. No word yet on which NFL player it was.” — Conan O’Brien