Picasso Restaurant to Close at Bellagio After Quarter Century

Today, we’re going to get a master class in public relations spin, courtesy of the good folks at Bellagio.

The news: Picasso restaurant, a Strip fixture since 1998, is closing in August 2024. The spin: Picasso is closing because the restaurant’s lauded chef, Julian Serrano, is “moving toward retirement.”

In the words of an acclaimed blogger, don’t feed us tofu and tell us it’s chicken parm. Yes, we’re acclaimed. It was just the one time, by a drunken tourist in high limit at Golden Gate, but they definitely acclaimed. We should’ve recorded it. It’s possible they thought we were Carrot Top. Whatever. Your skepticism is duly noted.

We are currently asking $23.6 million for this A.I. painting. OBO.

Anyway, Bellagio is closing Picasso.

The rule is successful Las Vegas restaurants don’t close unless there’s a sex scandal. In other words, unless there’s something we don’t know about (there is never anything we don’t know about), Picasso is closing because it’s underperforming after more than a quarter century of kicking ass.

Every restaurant has a life cycle, and Picasso has had a truly impressive run.

Bellagio, owned by MGM Resorts, concocted this charming “move toward retirement” narrative as a diversion to soften the blow of the closure. Not that Serrano isn’t eyeing retirement, it’s just a concocted layer of the story to make it seem like the retirement of a chef has anything to do with whether a restaurant at a major Strip casino continues to operate or not.

For example, Wolfgang Puck quiet retired years ago, yet there are still some restaurants with his name on it. When was the last time anyone saw Guy Savoy at Guy Savoy?

Anyway, Picasso is done and Chef Julian Serrano will also step away from overseeing the kitchen of Lago, another Bellagio mainstay.

Lago will continue to operate without Julian Serrano, because it’s successful. See how that works?

Serrano will continue to helm Julian Serrano Tapas at Aria. Which, if you ask us, is sort of the opposite of retirement, but it’s best to not think about these things too much. It’s easier to just copy and paste sections of the news release like every other Las Vegas media outlet does!

“During its 25-year tenure, Picasso earned some of the industry’s top culinary honors, including the first Las Vegas restaurant to receive a James Beard Award nomination for Best New Restaurant, one of the first two Nevada restaurants to receive the Forbes Five-Star Award, and one of only two restaurants in the city to receive two Michelin stars. Chef Serrano himself earned two regional ‘Best Chef’ awards from the James Beard Foundation during his impressive culinary career, Best Chef Southwest in 2002 and Best Chef California in 1998.”

There’s no denying that’s an impressive history, it’s just time for something new.

How the chef became successful without calling anyone a donkey, we have no idea.

On the bright side, while often whimsical, news releases can be very entertaining.

Here’s a quote from Bellagio’s top executive, “Embarking on a culinary journey like no other, Chef Julian Serrano’s illustrious 25-year tenure has been a symphony of flavor, a masterpiece on every plate. His culinary prowess has ignited palates, transcended borders, and left an indelible mark on the world of gastronomy. With each dish, he painted a canvas of innovation and excellence, earning accolades and admiration from connoisseurs worldwide. As he gracefully steps into a new chapter, Chef Serrano leaves behind a legacy woven with the threads of passion, dedication, and unparalleled artistry. His retirement marks the end of an era, but his culinary brilliance will forever linger as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come.”

Just kidding! That was ChatGPT.

Here’s the actual quote from Bellagio’s President & COO Ann Hoff, “As Chef Serrano embarks on this well-deserved retirement, we reflect on the remarkable 25-year journey of Picasso, a cornerstone of culinary excellence at Bellagio. His artistry has left an indelible mark on our guests and the Las Vegas dining scene. While we bid a very fond farewell to Picasso and the stellar team who provided unmatched hospitality to our guests for decades, we celebrate its enduring legacy and Chef Serrano’s immeasurable contributions to our culinary landscape.”

Big difference!

Look, it’s not just public relations people who are going to lose their jobs to A.I., it’s bloggers, too. We wrote a whole story about this, please keep up.

We can’t recall ever eating at Picasso, but Lago is stellar and a known aphrodisiac.

Fun fact: Chef Serrano says he can’t eat certain foods because they make him sick. Those foods include garlic, raw onions, raw tomatoes, pineapple and strawberries. That’s the kind of thing we’d like to see in news releases.

Here’s a story about the chef, written back when the restaurant turned 20 years old and the Las Vegas Review-Journal still had a food writer. The story says most of the staff at Picasso has been there for decades.

The news release about Picasso’s closure deftly sidesteps the origin of the restaurant, probably because that history involves disgraced and defrocked casino mogul Steve Wynn. Wynn was, and is, an art collector, despite his failing vision. Without Steve Wynn, there would never have been a Picasso restaurant. Also not mentioned in the closure announcement, the fact MGM Resorts sold off many of its Picasso art pieces in 2021. There were once 23 works by Picasso in the restaurant.

Steve Wynn famously put his elbow through a Picasso, before tanking his reputation and legacy because he was unable to keep his libido and ego in check.

Anyway, Bellagio hasn’t said what will replace Picasso, but we’re sure it will ignite palates, transcend borders and leave an indelible mark on the world of gastronomy. Oh, and it will definitely be immersive. It’s the law.