Ask any serious Vegas eater what kind of restaurant our city is missing most, and they’ll likely give you four simple, drool-inducing letters.
We have very few true delicatessens sprinkled around our Valley, which isn’t that surprising considering classic Jewish deli cuisine, though beloved in most major American cities, hails from a bygone era. There aren’t new deli concepts popping up, at least not ones as good as Katz’s in New York City, Manny’s in Chicago or Langer’s in LA. Las Vegas has plenty of people from those cities, but we don’t have much of that food.
Fortunately, Canter’s is coming to Vegas—again. Canter’s opened in 1924 in Jersey City, New Jersey, and relocated to LA in 1931; the Canter’s Deli at 419 North Fairfax Avenue is an American icon. Known for freshly baked breads and tender pastrami and corned beef, Canter’s became hugely popular with celebrities, pro athletes and presidents—regular people love it, too—and opened a Vegas outpost at Treasure Island in 2003. For a short time, it also operated a small sandwich counter at Mandalay Bay.
When the TI deal expired and the restaurant closed in late 2012, sandwich scion Gary Canter started looking for another Vegas location. Partnering with Celebrity Brands and its director of operations John Thacker, he found two. Canter’s will open a full-service, 3,600-square-foot, 24-hour restaurant at the Linq Promenade, right under the High Roller wheel, this summer, and then in the fall, a second and larger restaurant in the second-phase expansion of Tivoli Village.
“This is like a dream come true,” says Gary Canter. (After missing that pastrami for years, I have to agree.) He’s ready to re-create the old-school goodness here all over again. “My grandparents taught me from a very early age, and this is just what I always knew how to do. I love the business, the energy and the passion for doing it the right way. It’s a time-honored tradition, really. I just do it how they taught me.”
Thacker, who’s spent decades working for Las Vegas Sands and at Strip resorts like Luxor and Mandalay Bay, knows Vegas and understands its acute deli needs. “We were looking for the right location and the right partnership, and Caesars is going to be a great partner,” he says. “Being at the base of what has replaced the Stratosphere as the most iconic piece of what’s going on, and in a storefront that’s almost how we’d envision it if we did it ourselves, is going to be a great model for us. Plus, we believe there’s a strong need for kosher-style delis really executed well.”
The Linq Promenade is also adding In-N-Out Burger and Gordon Ramsay’s Fish & Chips this year, along with Virgil’s Real Barbecue. That’s exciting, but how many Strip spots can say Mad Men has filmed in their dining room? Or that Mick Jagger and Wayne Gretzky are regulars? Or that President Obama has ordered extra corned beef sandwiches to go?
“What can I say?” Canter exclaims. “Good food gets you into places.”