In Recession, Vegas Eateries Can't Beat Odds

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2009 6:14 AM CDT
Alex, a Las Vegas restaurant with two Michelin stars, has scaled back its hours of operation as business recedes.   (PRNewsFoto/Wynn Las Vegas)
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(Newser) – Just a year ago, 25% of the country's highest-grossing restaurants were in Las Vegas—where diners ran up $15,000 checks and tipped waiters with wads of C-notes. But now restaurants are closing, new construction languishes half-finished, and more than 5,000 food industry workers have lost their jobs. "It was gold, and suddenly it became fool’s gold," one restaurateur tells the New York Times.

One Vegas chef observes that his casual restaurant has seen the average check drop from $70 to "in the $40s," while his pricier formal establishment has been shuttered. Many are anxious about the opening of CityCenter, the mammoth MGM development with no fewer than 30 restaurants, which may cut further into revenues. "Now, everyone is vying for a part of a shrinking pie," one chef tells the New York Times. (Read more Las Vegas stories.)