Price point, price point, price point.
Location is important, but if you’re in downtown Las Vegas, you’re already in a pretty good location.
People are flocking to the Fremont East Entertainment District to check out the Container Park, see what’s new and see if it’s really true that you can walk a few blocks east on Fremont Street without fearing for your safety.
And let’s face it: Downtown has a way to go before it attains the high-rent/high-salaried status that could support a business like Whole Foods.
Trader Joe’s? Maybe. A stronger “maybe” if more and higher-density housing ever gets built. (Rumors abound, but let’s see those high-rise plans first.)
So what matters if a business wants to survive here is reaching a price for services, meals, coffee and booze that downtown customers can afford — or isn’t beyond the pocketbooks of tourists who might find cheaper eats or drinks in nearby casinos.
A successful restaurateur in the area says emphatically: “It’s all about price point!”
An attorney told me recently: “Lunch for two just cost $40; never again.”
Let’s look at the newest opening and make a prediction. Kerry Simon’s Carson Kitchen just opened, and its menu includes a dizzying array of tastes that, to date, are foreign to downtown.
Bacon Jam baked brie on a toasted baguette. Gyro tacos. Short rib sliders with root beer glaze and crispy onions. Jerk turkey burger with mango chutney slaw.
And how about the prices?
Social plates, which appear to be starters, range from $6 for crispy chicken skins with smoked honey to $12 for veal meatballs with sherry fois gras cream. Aside from desserts (all listed at $6 each), the rest of the menu ranges mostly from $8 to $12, with two outliers at $16 and $18. That includes mouth-watering swordfish with lemon, mint and basil, $14; a sprouts and spuds hash with onions, bacon and balsamic vinegar, $10; a fried green tomato sandwich with lump crab ravigote and baby greens, $10; and cocoa espresso New York strip steak with red wine demi, $18.
To gauge whether those prices fit the wallets of downtown denizens and tourists, consider that the prices for most entrees at the very successful nearby Le Thai fall between $10 and $14.
Carson Kitchen seems to get the price right. Now if the food hits the spot, expect it to have a long stay in the revamped John E. Carson Motel.