Changing times mean changing tastes at casino | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Changing times mean changing tastes at casino

Susan Wood

Harrah’s Lake Tahoe plans to kick up its restaurant offerings a notch, bringing an end to an era at Llewelyn’s and the start of Cabo Wabo’s second year with a visit by special guest Food Network chef Emeril Lagasse.

Llewelyn’s will close this Saturday to make way by mid-June for a new Harveys restaurant called Nineteen, a contemporary place named after the floor it sits on that may serve dinners ranging from Pan Asian seafood to homestyle meatloaf.

Harrah’s management is bringing in a Las Vegas designer to help with the $1 million renovation. Booths may replace some tables and a few structural changes may be made, said Don Marrandino, president of Northern Nevada operations.

“Llewelyn’s is very dated,” he said.

What won’t change is the 19th floor view from the restaurant that opened 14 years ago as a fine dining establishment.

“We have plenty of steakhouses. It’s time to look at something different,” Harrah’s spokesman John Packer said Thursday.

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To compete in the world of tourism, the casino undergoes an ongoing top-to-bottom evaluation of its facilities. On the bottom floor, Cabo Wabo will get more space to carry on its first-year success – which casino management has quantified as a 300 percent improvement from the former El Vaquero Mexican restaurant. Its best night would add up to $15,000, with Cabo Wabo doing three times that amount. As of his May opening, Food and Beverage Director Christophe Jorcin said customers have consumed more than 11,000 bottles of the signature Agave-style Tequila at the cantina.

The Baja-style restaurant – the casino partnered with rocker Sammy Hagar – made its first-year projection by September.

By the time the anniversary rolls around, the restaurant’s $250,000 expansion will bring in table games in a nearby, 800-square-foot space carved out of the corridor. Another bar and retail outlet will be set up across the way in a 1,000-square-foot section. Food tables with 80 more seats will be added to accommodate a growing customer base. The 2,000-square-foot upgrade should be completed by the end of the month.

The crowd atmosphere has turned some people away, so Jorcin would like to open it up.

“The key to its success belongs to Sammy,” he said.

Hagar, Van Halen lead singer, opened the original Cabo Wabo in Cabo San Lucas because he developed a fondness for the area and claimed a niche to fulfill.

At this Cabo Wabo, Food Network’s Lagasse will share recipes for the cantina’s one-year anniversary on April 28. Emeril, as he is known, has taken the television cooking world by storm. He’s credited with revitalizing Creole-Acadian cooking using fresh ingredients of southern Louisiana.

For the simpler culinary pleasures, the Fat Burger chain intends to open in July in the North Beach Deli location at Harrah’s.

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