Friday 21 June, 2013

Send In The Clowns: Setting Things Straight on Circo, Las Vegas

circobelagio

Wading into the rumor pool is my least favorite thing to do in the restaurant world. Experience has shown me that nothing is certain until it's already happened, whether it's an opening or a closing, and to me it seems an awful waste of energy talking about anything other than: can you or should you eat somewhere, right now?

But when information comes "from the horses mouth," adding a lot more to a story than anyone's bothered reporting, it would seem remiss not to put it out there.

The voices of record hemmed and hawwed over news that yet another Vegas Strip standard, Osteria Del Circo at Bellagio, would be closing. That much is, sadly, true. But apparently everyone was too busy saying rosaries and decrying corporate overlords to bother talking to the restauranteur, Sirio Maccione, and get the whole story. At least not, for publication.

I happened to be speaking with Mr. Maccione this week on a different subject, and brought up Circo. Of course, he said, it was a grey cloud. But one with quite a silver lining. MGM Resorts had no ill will towards the Maccione Group (which also operates Le Cirque in Bellagio and Sirio Ristorante in Aria), nor even issue with Circo's performance, which was still solid after nearly 15 years. But the Hyde nightclub opened next door was so successful that one could hardly deny its desire to expand.

MY GOOD FRIEND MITCHELL WILBURN ON WHY YOU SHOULD EAT AT CIRCO, RIGHT NOW

"The real estate where Circo sits is probably the best that the hotel has," says Sirio--and when Hyde can get $500 for a bottle of vodka, what can compete with that?

So yes, Circo will be closing.

But, when news of the closing got out, the restaurant was so flooded with reservation requests, that the initial closing date was pushed back six months, Sirio says. "People are booking and trying to get in, every day."

MY GOOD FRIEND JOHN CURTAS' WISTFUL ELEGY FOR SIRIO

While MGM Resorts may or may not confirm this (they rarely do, before they want to), they are hardly pushing Maccione out the door. In fact, they've offered him something like carte blanche to reopen a restaurant--maybe Circo, maybe a different concept (I suspect the latter)--either elsewhere in Bellagio, space providing, or in another MGM property (I'll let everyone else chew the fat on that). This could even be underway before Circo shutters at some point in 2014.

And one thing even the Chicken Littles of the Las Vegas fooderati can take comfort in: Sirio Maccione is not going to give you more burgers.

Circo Las Vegas