Andy Masi is one of the architects of modern Las Vegas entertainment. After arriving from the East Coast in 1999 to open the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, Masi founded the Light Group with Andrew Sasson in 2001 and partnered with MGM Resorts to create some of the most popular clubs, bars and restaurants on the Strip—with memorably brief names like Light, Mist, Fix, Jet, Stack and Bare.
Last year, the Light Group was sold to Hakkasan Group. Masi took only a short break before launching his new Clique Hospitality and embarking on new endeavors, including the recently opened Italian restaurant Salute in Summerlin. He’s not planning on slowing down any time soon.
You just opened Salute at Red Rock Resort. How do you describe your newest restaurant? We call it a trattoria, but what we did is travel all around the Amalfi Coast sampling Southern Italian cuisine, finding great dishes and recipes. We’re trying to re-create those. We spent a lot of miles and a lot of calories getting this restaurant perfect. It’s been fun but a lot of work.
Once you opened Hearthstone at Red Rock last year, was Salute a natural next step? Even before that, for a couple of years I used to run into [Station Casinos’] Frank Fertitta in Capri [in Italy] in different restaurants. Once we started working together, we’d talk about those trips and remember this dish or that—remember that one restaurant? We decided we should really do an Italian restaurant that serves that style of food.
When Hakkasan Group purchased Light Group late last year, you ended up holding on to Hearthstone. [Chef] Brian Massie, who really was the main driving force behind Hearthstone, took over and ran the restaurant while I went on a little sabbatical. It was the first restaurant that really had his name on the marquee, and he felt close to it and wanted to keep it. I came back to work with him. It was a deal worked out between Station Casinos and Hakkasan.
There was a time when the Light Group absolutely dominated the scene. Now that you are developing projects through your new company, do you think you might return to creating that type of nightclub, or are you leaning more toward restaurants and lounges? I really like restaurants and lounges. The nightclub business is incredible, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of it in its early stages. But people develop and the market changes, and I got more interested in restaurants personally. I also believe people want to go back to just hanging out in a cool bar and socializing that way. But never say never.
What do you think is next for nightlife on the Strip? Vegas will always be at the center of big nightlife and big clubs. It will always be a driver, and there will always be massive demand for it. Hopefully I’ll help bring the friendly bar, the trendy bar scene, back to the Strip. It’s kinda disappeared for a while. That’s why you see things like the bars in Downtown Las Vegas getting so popular—they are cool places to hang out, and there’s no cover. That scene will grow on the Strip. It’s coming.
Maybe your Clique lounge, coming to the Cosmopolitan this winter, will be part of that. It’s going to be a very cool bar with a great cocktail program, tableside mixology, great music and a very fun atmosphere, casual, no cover, no minimums to sit down and eat and drink.
What else are you working on? It’s a little too early to talk about, but we have two more bar concepts on the Strip and we’re also doing a project in San Diego with a large hotel group. We have more projects coming with Station Casinos, too. There’s a lot of stuff queued up and ready to go, just a few weeks away from announcing.