The trials and tribulations of Downtown’s shopping plazas

Pawn Plaza on Las Vegas Boulevard in Downtown.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

With three businesses recently padlocked at Pawn Plaza, Downtown shopping complexes remain a tough sell. Here’s a summary of the rollercoaster ride each has endured.

Pawn Plaza It opened last year to accommodate crowds visiting Pawn Stars-famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop next door, but Smoke’s Poutinerie, Inna Gadda di Pizza and Pawn Donut & Coffee all folded in one week last month. A small handful of operations remain, including Rollin Smoke’s tavern/eatery that occasionally sees Pawn Plaza owner/Pawn Stars star Rick Harrison tending bar.

Downtown Container Park on Fremont Street.

Downtown Container Park Numerous tenants, including several retail outlets and art galleries, have come and gone in the nearly three years since the Downtown Project opened the 40-container destination facility, with the third floor suffering the highest casualty rate (only a few businesses currently occupy it). Reps have maintained that contracts allow for flexible transitions anyway, and at least one replacement, Oak & Ivy cocktail bar, has found acclaim. In general, the food and beverage operations—most running since day one—have been a source of stability, from Bin 702 and Big Ern’s BBQ to Pinches Tacos.

Neonopolis at the Fremont Street Experience.

Neonopolis The standard bearer of tenant tumult, the 14-year-old Neonopolis was once considered the albatross around former Mayor Oscar Goodman’s neck. Jillian’s music venue/restaurant/arcade ended a six-year run to make way for a new Star Trek: The Experience that never materialized. The closure of frequently busy Drink & Drag followed that of its big sister venue, the controversy-sunk Krave Massive (which replaced Galaxy Theatres). Only a third of the complex is occupied, but Denny’s, Heart Attack Grill and Toy Shack have steadied the course, while Banger Brewing has scored Neonopolis with some cool points—as might a new e-sports complex reportedly opening at the former Krave site by year’s end.

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