History

What’s a sign worth? In Las Vegas, it’s invaluable

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Davy’s Locker
Photo: Steve Marcus

Longtime neighborhood watering holes are often the social hub stitching together the neighborhood. In transitional Las Vegas, enduring haunts like Davy’s Locker become storied landmarks.

If you don’t know the bar, often considered the best dive bar in town, then you’ll likely know its sign. The giant neon red fish glowed for decades on the corner of Desert Inn and Maryland Parkway, serving as a familiar beacon for drinkers and general passersby before flickering out with age.

But it’s not over. An anonymous patron recently volunteered to foot the bill for restoring the sign. YESCO, the company that built the original, has been repairing the fish and font to its original state outside the establishment, which serves mostly regulars from the immediate surrounding neighborhood.

“We’re so excited,” says Danielle Kelly, operations manager of the Neon Museum, a nonprofit that rescues and displays iconic Vegas signs.

“We love that sign. There are a lot of signs in Las Vegas that are iconic because of their association with the Strip. What’s really cool about Davy’s Locker is that it’s really iconic for locals.

Details

Davy’s Locker
1149 E. Desert Inn Road, 735-0001, davyslockerlv.com

“The fact that someone wants to repair it rather than replace it with something less expensive is an indicator of the growing passion for the historic and artistic value of neon signs.”

Mark MacDonald, the bar’s assistant manager and collector of Davy’s Locker lore, says the sign represents one of the last elements of historic Las Vegas. MacDonald moved here as a child in the ’70s and remembers the red fish as a familiar part of the ever-changing landscape on the long stretch of now mostly outdated commercial establishments. “You don’t see a lot of neon anymore,” MacDonald says. “The bar has gone through many changes ... in décor. The sign has never changed.”

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