When the hits stop coming for aging rockers, restaurant ownership starts to look good. Would you want to be their partner?
With the arrival of Lynyrd Skynyrd BBQ & Beer at the Excalibur and the pending debut of the Beach Boys Good Vibration Restaurant at Bally’s, the Las Vegas roster of rock-themed restaurants is about to expand. These two bands hope to mimic the success of Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Café and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, both now good-sized chains; so do the experienced investors and operators backing them.
Iconic rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd went all out to celebrate the arrival of their new Las Vegas restaurant. Beginning Dec. 1, there was a 10-day-long grand opening that included everything from a concert by Lynette Skynyrd, the all-girl Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band, to an in-restaurant concert by Lynyrd Skynyrd itself. Tickets for the latter event started at $300, topping out at $750.
Some of the restaurant’s design decisions might seem a little strange to other restaurant owners. “The tables are made from floors of historic grain barns and the surface marks are hoof marks from many generations of animals,” the band’s website proclaims. Remember, it’s located in the Excalibur where the live jousting matches on horseback are part of the signature dining experience, so anything goes.
But almost every other aspect gives the place a strong chance at success. The band’s partner is Drive This! Entertainment, which operates RHUMBAR at the Mirage and other hip bars and restaurants around town.
This group didn’t mess around when it came to food. The restaurant sources its barbecue from the legendary Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX, an 111-year-old institution whose ‘cue is ranked number two in the country by Zagat. You wouldn’t even need the Lynyrd Skynyrd connection to make a restaurant work with this caliber of product. The rest of the menu includes traditional items such as biscuits and gravy, ribs, brisket and pulled pork, with side dishes like coleslaw, baked beans, okra and macaroni and cheese. Wisely, hokey themed items like a “Freebird” burger don’t make an appearance.
The revenue picture looks bright, too. The place serves breakfast in addition to lunch and dinner, morphing into a high-energy rock club later at night. A retail area offers plenty of memorabilia, both of the band and of the restaurant. You can see the hand of Drive This! at work in this concept. The place should be taking in money almost 24 hours a day.
The Beach Boys Good Vibration Restaurant is set to open this summer, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the band. The Beach Boys themselves are a little long in the tooth at this point in their career, so their restaurant is going with a younger theme: “It’s about cars, surf, women, the lifestyle,” says operation manager Nick Raymond.
This restaurant’s investors hope to expand the concept to reach Beach Boys fans around the world. The Lynyrd Skynyrd crew would be willing to do the same.
Both groups would like to emulate the success of singer Jimmy Buffet, who has 14 Margaritaville Cafes, a hotel and even a second concept, Land Shark Bar & Grill in Myrtle Beach, SC. Buffett doesn’t just have a restaurant inside a casino in Las Vegas. He has a casino—the Margaritaville Casino at the Flamingo.
If not Buffett, the bands would like to at least reach the level of country rocker Toby Keith. He’s got eight “I Love This Bar & Grill” units and is looking to add more.
Keep your eye on how well the Lynyrd Skynyrd and Beach Boys restaurants do in Las Vegas. These are huge, huge acts whose fan bases span many generations. If you get a chance to invest in or help operate one of these two concepts, or one like them, you’d want to give it a serious look.