weather icon Mostly Cloudy

Co-owner’s cancer battle inspires antique-selling Rebar in downtown Las Vegas

Derek Stonebarger has been involved in a lot of ventures over the years with varying levels of success, but when he was diagnosed with cancer, he decided that it was time to buckle down and open his dream business.

The result is one of the odder combinations in the Las Vegas Valley: Rebar, a bar and antique store, which opened at 1225 S. Main St. on June 16.

“After I got a clean bill of health, I took everything that I could find, every dollar that I had left, and said, ‘I’m going to try this idea,’ ” Stonebarger said. “Now is the time. I’m not going to wait any more.”

Actually, he didn’t wait for the clean bill of health. He signed the lease and began working on Rebar in the middle of chemotherapy.

“He was pretty much skin and bones for most of the hard construction,” said attorney Charles Vlasic, one of Stonebarger’s partners in the project. “He was puking into a garbage can and jackhammering at the same time. He’s kind of an animal.”

Stonebarger, his wife, Dorian, and Vlasic — along with his wife, Sarah, and Vlasic’s fellow attorney, John P. Witucki — are the partners on the project, but they are not in the shadows. They pitch in when they can, and Vlasic did all of the welding work and a lot of the heavy labor during the build-out.

“I’d work as an attorney until 7 (p.m.) and then go pick up my kid from daycare,” Vlasic said. “Then I’d come in and do construction from 8 to midnight or later and on the weekends.”

He was having a drink with Stonebarger when he told him about Rebar.

“Derek and I have been friends for years, and his best ideas come when he’s having a drink,” Vlasic said. “Derek’s the guy with the vision, so I stay out of his way for that part of it.”

Some of the visions and projects Stonebarger has had, and been involved in, include Theatre 7, a live theater and indie film outlet in the Arts District; the Vegas Indie Film Fest!; organizing several annual 48 Hour Film Project competitions; “Pawn Stars Live,” a parody of the “Pawn Stars” TV show done in cooperation with the staff of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop; the refurbishing and relaunch of Atomic Liquors; and a film production company.

He said that all of them did well enough, but he was looking for more.

“The production company did all right; it paid the bills,” Stonebarger said. “Theatre 7 did all right, but we just kind of broke even on it. Atomic was a huge success, but I only had a small part of that and I had to sell that to pay for my surgery.”

He had always been prone to cold sores, so he didn’t think much of one on his lip that was particularly persistent. After more than a year, he decided to have it checked out and was diagnosed with skin cancer.

“No big deal,” Stonebarger said. “I had it cut out. A few months later, in February of 2015, I had a lump in my throat, and I joked with my wife, ‘Probably the skin cancer jumped into my lymph nodes.’ I didn’t even know what I was talking about, but that’s what it was. Nobody wants to learn about cancer until they got it or someone they know has it. Then you become an expert and read all about it.”

He underwent aggressive treatment to attack the cancer, starting with surgery and continuing to simultaneous chemotherapy and radiation treatments. He didn’t think his chances were good.

“Honestly, I checked out,” he said. “I didn’t think I had a chance, but I fought with all my will and physical being and it worked. I got a clean bill of health (in May) saying all of my cancer is in remission.”

By that time, he was well underway on getting the permits and doing the construction on Rebar. Initially, Stonebarger planned to sell just wine and beer but discovered that beer and wine licenses are unavailable in the area, so the plans changed to be a full bar. Gathering the antiques to sell were, by far, the easiest part of the proposition.

“I’ve flipped stuff since I was 14,” Stonebarger said. “I used to buy and sell cars. Before there was Craigslist, I used the classifieds. I’ve always used it as a hobby and for supplemental income.”

This explains why it was no problem for him to fill a wall with cuckoo clocks and antique beer steins. He recently purchased a collection of 200 beer-themed T-shirts, and the focus of his more recent purchases have been beer- and bar-related items. There are still quite a few oddities around Rebar, including slot machines turned into tables, taxidermy, a NASCAR tire table, classic bike parts and several death masks, including one of Napoleon. Everything is for sale.

Stonebarger feels that surviving cancer has made him more of a risk-taker and has made him more up front with people. He feels that Rebar is a more calculated risk than some of his other projects, in part because he and his partners carefully picked the location.

“I believe the location is ground zero for the future of Las Vegas,” Stonebarger said. “Five years from now, this is going to be the best place. After the city puts in $70 million on the the street, making it one way and beautifying it, I believe all of the parades will run down Main Street. It will be a street that the city can be proud of.”

Stonebarger has a lot of plans for Rebar, including adding a high-end hot dog cooker and fixing up the large parking lot in the rear so it can be used both for customer parking or special events. He plans to bring his Vegas Indie Film Fest! back in November and host it in the open-air space. He hopes to someday take the concept to other cities.

“I went from almost dying and being a pretty unlucky guy to being the most happy and lucky guy on the planet,” Stonebarger said. “How many people can say that?”

Rebar is open from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday; 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday; and 2 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday. Call 702-349-2283 or visit facebook.com/rebarlv.

To reach East Valley View reporter F. Andrew Taylor, email ataylor@viewnews.com or call 702-380-4532.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Business Videos
How much do Las Vegas casino CEOs make?
Las Vegas gaming CEOs made anywhere between $1 million and $24 million last year, according to company filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. ((Las Vegas Review-Journal)
30-year-old Rio needs a little TLC
Nearly 30 years after the Rio opened, the red and blue jewel that helped catapult Las Vegas to a new level with its buffet and nightclub has lost its status along with its shine.
The latest on the Drew Las Vegas - VIDEO
Eli Segall recounts his tour of the Drew Las Vegas, formerly the Fontainebleau, on the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pinball Hall of Fame to move near south Strip
Operators of the Pinball Hall of Fame have been approved to build a new, larger arcade near the south edge of the Strip on Las Vegas Boulevard near Russel Road. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
National Hardware Show underway Las Vegas
The National Hardware Show kicked off Tuesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Caesars for sale?
Caesars Entertainment Corp. has been swept up in takeover speculation since the company’s share price tumbled last year amid disappointing earnings and concerns over a recession. Amid the decline, hedge funds scooped up shares. Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn began buying shares of Caesars as early as January. Icahn acquired nearly 18 percent by mid-March. In February Icahn called on the Caesars board to study a sale as a way to boost shareholder value.
Las Vegas home prices
Las Vegas home prices grew fastest among major markets in February for the ninth straight month. But amid affordability concerns, the growth rate has slowed down. Southern Nevada prices in February were up 9.7% from a year earlier, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index. The last time Las Vegas' price growth fell below 10% was in September 2017, S&P Dow Jones Indices reported.
Free Parking Coming To Wynn
Free parking will come to the Wynn and Encore resorts on May 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Founding Venetian employees talk about 20 years at the Strip resort
The Venetian, which opened May 3, 1999, is celebrating 20 years on the Las Vegas Strip. Seven original employees talk about opening the luxury resort and working there for two decades. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Circa aiming for December 2020 opening
The 1.25-million-square-foot property will have 44-stories and 777-rooms. It will also have a separate nine-story, 1,201-space parking garage.
Boxabl official explains the building concept
Boxabl business development manager Galiano Tiramani shows off a room built by his company. (Blake Apgar/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TI/Mirage Tram reopens
The tram that shuttles guests between TI and Mirage reopened this week after being closed for much of 2018.
Las Vegas Convention Center expansion taking shape
Renderings and actual footage show how the Las Vegas Convention Center is evolving.
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Las Vegas convention
Former Starbucks CEO and potential presidential candidate Howard Schultz spoke at the Epicor Insights user conference at Mandalay Bay Convention Center Wednesday, April 17, 2019. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Drew Las Vegas to open in the second quarter of 2022
The 67-story Drew Las Vegas is slated to open in the second quarter of 2022 at the north end of the Las Vegas Strip. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NAB Day 1 (Time Lapse)
NAB kicked off at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, April 8, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
National Association of Broadcasters Show shows 1mm thick 8K TV with 22.2 channel digital sound
Japan’s NHK Science & Technology Research Laboratories booth featured a 1mm thick 8K TV system used in conjunction with a 22.2 channel digital sound system at the National Association of Broadcasters Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Nevada shoppers react to Smith’s no longer accepting Visa credit cards
On March 1, Smith’s announced that it would no longer be accepting Visa credit cards at any of its 142 supermarkets, including the 45 in Nevada.
Massachusetts Gaming Commission asks how long Wynn executives knew about misconduct
Business reporter Rick Velotta gives an update on the adjudicatory hearing on the suitability of Wynn Resorts to retain its gaming license in Massachusetts.
Henderson app developer part of Startup in Residence
Henderson based developers of the app On Point Barricade are taking part in Startup in Residence, a North America program dedicated to pairing tech companies with governments. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sam's Town employees and customers talk of their love for the iconic casino
Longtime Sam's Town employees and customers love each other and love their casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Las Vegas apartments rents
Las Vegas’ apartment market has accelerated in recent years. Developers are packing the suburbs with projects, landlords are on a buying spree, and tenants have filled buildings.
William Boyd talks about the birth of Sam's Town
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of Sam's Town, William Boyd, executive chairman of Boyd Gaming and son of hotel namesake Sam Boyd, talks about how the casino became one of the first local properties in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
High Roller observation wheel turns five
The world’s tallest observation wheel celebrates it’s fifth year on Sunday, March 31, 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Escape Room Industry Growing In Las Vegas
Escapology employees discuss the growing escape room industry in the U.S. and Las Vegas. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Impact of parking fees on visiting the Las Vegas Strip
There are no data showing a relationship between Strip resort and parking fees and the number of out-of-state visitors to Las Vegas. But there are data showing a relationship between Strip parking fees and the number of local visitors to the the Strip. ‘’As a local, I find myself picking hotels I visit for dinner or entertainment, based on whether they charge for parking or not,”’ said David Perisset, the owner of Exotics Racing. ‘’It is not a matter of money, more of principle.’’ A 2018 survey by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance found 36.9 percent of Clark County residents reported avoiding parking at Strip casinos that charge for parking. 29.1 percent reported avoiding using any services from a Strip casino that charges for parking.
MGM's sports betting deals
MGM Resorts International signed a sports betting sponsorship agreement with the NBA in July It was the first professional sports league to have official ties with a legal sports betting house. The deal came just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a law prohibiting sports betting in most states. In October, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the NHL. In November, MGM became the first gaming company to sign a sports betting partnership with the MLB. Financial terms of Tuesday’s deal and earlier partnerships have not been announced.
Faraday puts Las Vegas land on the market
Nearly two years after Faraday Future bailed on its North Las Vegas auto factory, the company has put its land up for sale. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
El Cortez owner Kenny Epstein on running the iconic property
Kenny Epstein, owner of the El Cortez Hotel in downtown Las Vegas, talks about Jackie Gaughan mentorship and answers rumors about bodies in the basement at the mob-era casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
LVCVA recommends construction of underground people mover
The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority announced the recommendation for an underground people mover for the convention center. The system would have the potential to expand and connect Downtown and the resort corridor all the way to McCarran. (Michael Quine/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)