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Nightlife

Upcoming Arts District bar Velveteen Rabbit a labor of love

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The Velveteen Rabbit aesthetic is historical and hip, local and global. After years of work, sisters Christina and Pam Dylag can’t wait to see it open.
Photo: Leila Navidi

The Velveteen Rabbit is a 1922 children’s story about a stuffed rabbit coming to life thanks to the love of its owner. Nearly a century later, a Main Street bar by the same name is coming to life thanks to the vision and dedication of proprietors/sisters Pam and Christina Dylag.

The Arts District’s newest bar—and Main Street’s first—is a story of perseverance and passion. The Dylag sisters have spent two years overcoming challenges related to construction, permits, codes and compliances, getting the charming half-century-old building at 1218 S. Main Street ready for a second life after it was left for dead following a 2010 fire.

In preparation for opening the Velveteen Rabbit, the sisters rebuilt everything, leaving only burn marks, texture and wall indents to preserve the building’s original essence. They’ve reinvigorated the historical space with creative contributions and guidance from the Downtown Vegas community—a mural by artist Travis Jackson, wall stenciling by Joel Spencer, an interactive video projection created by the Space Cadets duo, and essential mentoring by landlord and Arts Factory owner Wes Myles.

The vision for Velveteen Rabbit is a community space where locals can gather, sip craft cocktails and beers, and converse without overwhelming music or TVs. The Dylags chose the Arts District as an escape from the hustle and bustle of the Strip and East Fremont. Low lighting will create an intimate, cozy feel inside. Outside, there’s a private parking lot and patio space.

The namesake children’s book also inspired the bar’s Victorian-era aesthetic. Design elements include Baroque framed artwork behind the bar and exposed ceilings and mirror mosaics in the bathrooms. Furniture was handpicked from thrift stores and reupholstered, and there’s even an eclectic array of mismatched glassware and a chandelier constructed of Lucky Buddha beer bottles.

While the Velveteen Rabbit will be community-oriented, the inspiration was global. Pam mentions the Tin Can in San Diego, known for local music and craft beer. Christina cites travels in Northern India and a favorite Murakami book. Inspiration also came from the thriving craft beer and cocktail culture in Portland, Oregon, along with Tokyo’s “insane bars,” like the absinthe lounge Tram.

Velveteen Rabbit elixirs will be $8 handcrafted takes on classics. Pam notes the recently concocted Green Bitch, made from green Chartreuse, Strega, celery juice, lime juice, egg whites, simple syrup and house-made curry bitters. If that sounds a bit intense, there will also be seasonal punch infused with fresh produce.

The first season up for liquid interpretation? Spring. When the Dylags’ love will finally bring the Velveteen Rabbit to life.

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