Phil Ruffin has been the boss at Treasure Island for two years. In that time, he's made a series of changes throughout the property to bring it more in line with the mid-level resort he wants it to be.
The $20 million Ruffin has spent on renovations has positioned the property as one for the average Joe.
Below is a look at five changes to shopping, dining and entertainment venues.
Last year, Phil Ruffin took out Treasure Island’s high-end Italian restaurant Francesco’s to resurrect Gilley’s Saloon, a staple at his New Frontier resort. The owner swapped white linen tablecloths and bistro tables for bar stools made out of saddles and street-level seating. And of course, the mechanical bull has returned as well.
“We had a high-end Italian place but people are shying away from high-end, so we put in Gilley’s. High-end is tough today. To sit down with four or five people for a $400, $500 tab is probably not the venue we’re going after,” Ruffin said.
2. The cubic zirconium store
Just off the casino floor, Ruffin replaced the store that sold Rolexes with a jewelry shop selling cubic zirconium baubles. Shortly after the store opened in 2010, Ruffin sold all the diamond jewelry for 50 percent off in the gift shop, selling magazines and toiletries next door.
“We’re trying to get rid of all the leftovers,” Ruffin said in an interview with the Las Vegas Sun in April 2010.
3. Señor Frog’s
In December, the resort will add Señor Frog’s, a popular bar and restaurant in spring-break destinations such as Cancun and the Virgin Islands. The outdoor-indoor venue will sit on the hotel’s lagoon in the space of the former Christian Audigier nightclub and Khotan Asian restaurant.
It’s not a nightclub, but a party scene that fits Ruffin’s older customers who aren’t looking to spend thousands on bottle service.
“It fits with our demographic. Our crowd is about 40 years old and real high-energy,” Ruffin said.
4. The by-the-slice pizza joint
Before Cosmopolitan opened with its secret pizza joint, Ruffin had one. Across from the Mystere Theatre, Ruffin replaced another of Treasure Island’s jewelry stores with a by-the-slice pizza restaurant called Francesco’s. The restaurant doesn’t have any tables or booths, just bar stools and counters.
“It’s quick and it’s cheap and that’s what people are looking for these days,” Ruffin says. “You should see this place after ‘Mystere’ gets out. You can’t even get near it.”
In addition to keeping one of the most affordable and longest-standing Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas at the property, the Treasure Island theater often plays host to comedians such as Bill Cosby, Whoopi Goldberg and Bill Engvall, who Ruffin says have good reputations with his 40-something crowd.
“Bill Cosby is the kind of show you could take your mother to, your grandmother to. He never says a bad word. He’s very clean. We stay away from the real nasty stuff,” Ruffin said.