The Struggle is Real at The Linq Promenade: F.A.M.E. Asian Food Court Closes

It was one of the more promising concepts when the Linq shopping promenade opened, but F.A.M.E., the “Chinatown Food Experience,” has shuttered.

F.A.M.E. (Food, Art, Music, Entertainment) struggled from day one, shuffling concepts within what amounted to a mostly-Asian food court.

FAME closed
In the words of Shia LaBeouf, “I am not famous anymore.”

F.A.M.E. boasted eight food offerings, including a Fuku Burger.

The closure is likely to mean the planned next phase of the establishment, an “upscale, seated dining experience with a modern Asian cuisine menu,” won’t be happening. The upstairs restaurant was supposed to have featured “a Tokyo-style robata bar, sushi bar and tempura bar.” Now, not so much. (Of note: Another restaurant at The Linq, Off the Strip, was supposed to expand its operation upstairs, but that’s been put off indefinitely.)

F.A.M.E.’s demise is the latest in a series of red flags going up at The Linq shopping district, indicating the project is struggling in a serious way.

For example, the mall’s Blvd. Cocktail Company, a piano lounge, actually went under. The owner of The Linq, Caesars Entertainment, swooped in to save the establishment in order to keep it from closing.

Blvd. Cocktail Co.
Hanging on, under new management.

A source close to The Linq summed up the situation this way, “Nobody’s making their rent.”

While foot traffic seems to be strong, it appears many guests stroll The Linq but don’t necessarily stop to take advantage of the strong collection of offerings.

Also struggling is the High Roller Ferris wheel. Caesars Entertainment, which is currently going through a high-profile bankruptcy, confessed the wheel has an average ridership of 5,000 people a day. While that sounds like a lot, the company projected ridership of about 11,000 a day.

High Roller
“High Roller Las Vegas, where everybody gets a line pass.”

Other changes at The Linq have happened with little fanfare. Jon Gray, touted as the “mayor” of The Linq, departed for a gig at Nike. Gray was quietly replaced by Tonia Chafetz, formerly the General Manager of Tivoli Village, another troubled shopping center in Las Vegas.

Another significant, but quiet, change at The Linq promenade was the bowing out of management company Caruso Affiliated. Founder and CEO Rick Caruso, also responsible for the
Grove shopping center in L.A., is said to no longer be involved with The Linq. Red flags don’t really get much bigger or redder than that.

Linq mall mural
On the bright side, there seem to be new murals every time you visit The Linq. See more.

The behind-the-scenes challenges facing The Linq promenade fly in the face of what’s been stated publicly, especially in advertorial spinning the facts to trumpet the project’s success. For example, “So far, the promenade seems to be worth the effort. The High Roller pulls in almost 5,000 riders a day.” Truth, but not exactly the whole truth.

Another painful truth is the struggles at The Linq promenade are likely to mean the announced Gordon Ramsay Fish & Chips restaurant won’t open. The restaurant from celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was supposed to have opened in the spring of 2015, but buzz has trailed off completely and requests for information from Caesars Entertainment go unanswered. Which means Ramsay has been informed of the situation at the Linq promenade and Ramsay is smart enough to know you don’t open a restaurant when the odds are stacked against you.

Here’s the thing, though. The Linq promenade is actually awesome.

The project turned a foul-smelling alley between Flamingo and O’Sheas casino (now The Linq hotel) into an appealing, eclectic destination with distinctive shops and a variety of bars and restaurants. Oh, and the world’s tallest observation wheel.

High Roller Ferris wheel
The High Roller is, in the vernacular of engineering, badass.

Nobody wants to see The Linq fail, or even flounder. So, the next time you’re in the neighborhood, don’t just stroll. Stop and drink or eat or ride that giant wheel. (Skip Chayo, though, they can suck it.) See a show at Brooklyn Bowl, what’s turned out to be one of the best entertainment venues in town. Visit the cupcake ATM (despite the cupcakes being too expensive and not that good). Bump knuckles with Lucky the Leprechaun at O’Sheas.

The tagline for The Linq is actually pretty dead-on: “So much to do, so little time.”

Let’s make some time, because The Linq is the heart of The Strip, and we’ve all got a stake in keeping it beating. Or something.