When the Hard Rock Hotel opened in Las Vegas in 1995, it didn’t take long to become the hottest hot spot in the city, a rock ’n’ roll- and celebrity-charged party that never stopped. At the center of all the music and madness was the casino’s Center Bar, much more than a place to meet and grab a drink. If you partied in Vegas in those days, you put in some serious time at the Center Bar.
As an opening bartender there, Andy Soulia had no idea the venue would become such an iconic spot. “From the very beginning, working at the Hard Rock didn’t strike me as a typical job. I really enjoyed going to work every day,” he says. “But it kind of took all of us by surprise how crazy popular and cool it was. For this town, it was the right hotel, the right bar, the right place at the right time, and I never looked back.”
Grab a seat at the Center Bar today—remodeled last year and reopened in September with a fresh look—and you might get lucky enough to hear some of Soulia’s stories from those glory days: the insanity of Howard Stern filming his radio show surrounded by a packed house; Hulk Hogan ordering drinks in character; Kiss in full makeup climbing on top of the bar to film a video. “The bar has changed, but we are the reminders, the contact points for all those great times in the history of this place,” Soulia says. “People come in to see how the Center Bar has changed, and they realize the heart and soul of the Hard Rock is still today what it always was, a cool hip vibe with tons of energy and great music. And yes, a great place to get a drink.”