Las Vegas Gourmet Restaurant Industry Re-Branding To Wider Audiences

Posted by on Feb 1

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Las Vegas is a city known for its lavish and never-ending entertainment, a place where you can never have too much money to spend. For foodies and travelers, this can only mean one thing: the best selection of gourmet, over-the-top restaurants anyone can find in one place, many of them associated with recognizable celebrity chefs hoping to profit from the city's affluent tourists.

But over the past few years, the state of the economy necessitated that Las Vegas restaurateurs take a look at their markets, forcing many of them to re-brand entirely to a wider audience. High-end dining in Vegas has completely changed -- but is it for the better?

Chef André Rochat, president of Gastronomy Management Group, is still adjusting to the new directions that the Las Vegas food industry is heading. "We're losing all our culture. We're losing our traditions," he said. "It's a shame, because it's all for the sake of making more money."

Rochat's 30-year establishment Andre's has been closed for two years. Another popular restaurant that has recently closed is Alex Stratta's Alex, which closed at the Wynn on Jan. 15 after a six-year run.

UNLV's culinary arts director Jean Hertzman noted that today's visitors to Las Vegas don't necessarily want a seven-course, white-tablecloth meal. "Sometimes people just don't want to eat that much food," she said. "So, restaurants want to make themselves more inviting to a wider range of people."

The concept of re-branding can especially be seen with Wolfgang Puck's Vegas restaurant franchises. Establishments such as the former Brasserie Puck at Crystals and Postrio at The Venetian received "make-unders" to help them appear more appealing to the general public. And over the past two years, it's been working. Both the Wolfgang Puck Pizzeria & Cucina and Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill have experienced profit increases for 2009 and 2010. The average cost per plate has decreased by over 50%, but the sales revenues have increased by at least 10%.

Still, senior managing partner for the Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group Tom Kaplan acknowledged that there are visitors and locals still looking for high-end dining. "There's still a market here," he said. But for now, "the clientele seems to need a more approachable price."

Source:  Las Vegas Business Press

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