The term “coming full circle” doesn’t quite convey the spherical perfection that is Michael Morton’s next Las Vegas restaurant project. The creator of the Nine Group (which changed the hospitality landscape in its heyday at the Palms)—and current operator of La Cave at Wynn Las Vegas, La Comida in Downtown Las Vegas and Crush at MGM Grand—plans to open a new steakhouse concept in 2017 with his brother David, following in the footsteps of their legendary father Arnie Morton, who founded the Morton’s Steakhouse chain.
But there’s more: They’re doing it at the Hard Rock Hotel, which their older brother Peter opened in 1995. “I had this early connection with [the Hard Rock], not just because my brother built it and owned it, but that was just a special time in Las Vegas,” Michael says. “It did so many things with the young, cool set and had a powerhouse nightclub when there weren’t many around. It had a lot of layers to it, and being a part of it after all these years is special, and to do it with my other brother is really neat.”
His favorite part of the project, however, is to honor the man “who we jokingly always say is running the best steakhouse in heaven. If there was ever a person put on Earth to work in hospitality, it was our father.”
Expect the new Morton project to continue the evolution of the contemporary American steakhouse. While he is considering more Vegas restaurant venues for his growing collection, Michael is planning to grow this latest concept into multiple locations, including in Chicago, where David resides and operates. “Our intent is to do with this concept what our dad did with Morton’s,” Michael says. “Having a [spread] in Las Vegas is really what I wanted to do post-Palms. Having seven different places in one hotel was amazing, but the downside is they were all in one place. To run a restaurant Downtown and one at Wynn, which are only a [few miles] apart but like being in a different world, that’s been really invigorating. I think it brings a lot more creativity to be able to jump into these different worlds.”