Don’t Tell Mama (517 Fremont St.)
When New York’s famed piano bar Don’t Tell Mama (DTM) opens up a Vegas outpost on Fremont East in the next week (owner Minh Pham, says maybe February 18 or 19), it will bring with it a glorious tradition of crooning off-duty actors, singing bartenders and former professionals harkening back to their heydays. This is not dueling pianos!
Situated just left of Beauty Bar, the 1,750-square-foot former check-cashing store not only shares its floor plan with its neighbor, but also opens its back door onto Beauty Bar’s backyard. With just 85 seats, no food, no gaming and a first-come, first-served attitude, DTM stays focused on two things: the music and the drinks. So far, only possible sound-bleed from Beauty Bar poses a potential snag.
Inside, Sunkist-orange walls are dotted with black-framed art prints. Bronze chandeliers and glass pendant lights dangle over the sizeable bar and petite bistro tables. The floor is tiled black and white like the keys on the Yamaha Baby Grand, which already bears the ubiquitous tip jar. Most nights, around 8:30 or 9 p.m., one of four pianists will tickle the ivories and back up singing customers or staff, Debbie Reynolds’ music director Joey Singer among them.
There is also some star-power among the staff: stage actor/recording artist Phillip Officer will reportedly wait tables, and bar manager Jennifer Kruskamp says she herself played the role of “Fontine” in Broadway’s Les Miserables from 1989-1992. Says Pham’s wife, Joanna, “She’s our best singer.”
As Vegas’ only classic piano bar, DTM hopes to be a hit among locals and also to enjoy pilgrimage status for piano-bar fanatics and habitués world-wide. Mayor Oscar Goodman is expected to be on-hand for the grand opening in March. Give him a martini and—who knows?—maybe he’ll belt out a tune!
Feelgood’s Rock Bar & Grill (6750 W. Sahara Ave.)
Vegas is about to get a mega-dose of rock, bike and tattoo culture, courtesy of some of the best in those industries. Out on the west side, crews are scurrying to complete construction of Feelgood’s Rock Bar & Grill in time to open the first week of March. This is not to be confused with Vince Neil’s Dr. Feelgood’s Rock Bar & Grill in West Palm Beach. (Well, actually, it is rather confusing, isn’t it?)
For his second Feelgood-related venture (this one sans “Dr.” and with a management structure under which Neil is an actual partner), the Mötley Crüe frontman has teamed up with custom bike-and-car don Danny Koker, aka The Count of Count’s Kustoms, and famed tattoo artist Johnny “Uncle Johnny” Colamarino of Hart & Huntington Tattoo. Overseeing just about everything else is GM/executive chef Tommy Allegretti and managers Marlo Maglieri (granddaughter of LA’s Whisky a Go Go owner Mario Maglieri) and Deborah Pinson.
Inside the nearly 7,000-square-foot space (formerly Prop’s Mongolian Grill), a 30-foot stage dominates one third of the main room, while a plush, raised VIP alcove overlooks the dining-room floor and separate bar area. Though Feelgood’s will open at 11 a.m. for lunch and then dinner (American bar fare), things will really take off later in the evening with local and national bands (booked and handled by entertainment director Jeff Blando of Slaughter and the Vince Neil Band and local consultant Mark Hornsby), as well as a bike night.
Decked out with brick interiors, saffron walls and album-cover graffiti, Feelgood’s takes on the look of Count’s Kustoms, with cobweb-embossed leather banquettes, quilted velvet walls and gas-can light fixtures. A full-size chopper will dominate the massive wood back bar, at which patrons can sample the signature cocktail, the Blood Bath, and ogle flair bartenders.
Even as Uncle Johnny moves forward with additional plans for a tattoo parlor at the Rio (Feelgood’s Presents Vince Neil Ink), a recording studio for Desert Moon Productions and a reality show “based on our Vegas lifestyle” and negotiates with Planet Hollywood on a 15,000-square-foot nightclub, he somehow manages to keep one eye on this, the first of what he hopes will be many Feelgood’s. “It’s gonna be the place to be,” he says.