Fans of Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba! in Las Vegas will have to look elsewhere for a tapas fix next time they're near the Fashion Show Mall on The Strip.‚ After five years in business, the restaurant will be closing in the next few days, as Lettuce Entertain You transforms the space into a Mexican concept that is, as of now, unnamed.
"We've had four home runs in Vegas, and one single," said LEYE Founder, Rich Melman, referring to the‚ Spanish restaurant at the corner of The Strip and Dio Dr. across the street from The Wynn Las Vegas. "I don't think‚ middle America really understands it. It's been an average performer for us."
Starting next week, the company will begin to turn the space into a lively Mexican concept, complete with an outdoor taco bar. They've hired a former‚ chef from The Border Grill in Los Angeles, and will hopefully open up in March sometime. Melman says his company always trademarks the name of the restaurant first, making sure there are no conflicts across the country, which is the main reason they haven't settled on a name for the new place just yet.
- Speaking from his cell phone, Melman was excited about plenty of other projects on the horizon, including his‚ M Burger concept taking shape behind Tru. "It's not gourmet, just simply-cooked burgers on soft buns; maybe six seats." The name can be interpreted a number of ways: either his last initial, or the fact that it's just off of Michigan Avenue, or more precisely, a reference to the way "hamburger" was pronounced/botched by Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the Pink Panther films. "When we asked Jo [Everest chef/owner Jean Joho] to pronounce it, he said it the same way, which was kind of funny, so that stuck," said Melman.
- And in late Fall, expect to see something opening from Melman's two sons, who are still running Hub 51. "They've made a deal and are waiting for the permits," said Melman. "It's a really cute idea." Does this family ever sleep?