“Long before the birth of light, there was darkness…” King Odin of Asgard
–THOR: THE DARK WORLD
Things have been pretty bleak over at Rio Hotel‘s “Masquerade Village” the past few years. So much so that this writer named it Most In Need Of A Revamp for our 2015 Round-up of “Best, Worst and Noteworthy”.
The recent opening of Guy Fieri‘s El Burro Borracho might draw a few more visitors to the floundering off-Strip hotel, but that Mexican-themed venue is quite a walk from the former location of the once-popular Masquerade Show In The Sky.
Fortunately on a recent visit to Rio, I saw signs of future activity…by way of the darkened space that was once Burger King‘s BK Whopper Bar. The last remaining restaurant inside Masquerade Village has shuttered its doors…well, it’s been blocked off by barricades of black curtains, which didn’t keep out these prying eyes.
As the wise father of Thor once stated in the royal quotation that opened this piece (yes, we’re straining to be both witty AND prophetic), there must always be darkness before the light. And out of the ashes of BK will rise the newest location for Smashburger. Beef shall beget beef.
Luckily for the cast of adjacent Chippendales, Thor wannabes and other lovers of quality protein, Smashburger promises that the 68-seat specialty beef purveyor will open on the second level of Masquerade Village this June. In a statement from Smashburger President Scott Crane, “Providing casino visitors with great made-to-order burgers in a fast and efficient manner is exactly what we’re built for.”
For those unfamiliar, Smashburger is a quickly-growing chain that was established in Denver nine years ago. Their motto of “Smashed Fresh – Served Delicious” promises that their 100% Angus beef is never frozen. Burgers are made to order using local ingredients and flair, with menus often tailored to regional tastes. You can learn about their philosophy and peek at the menu by clicking here.
They must be doing something satisfying, as Smashburger has expanded to the east coast and seven countries in a short amount of time. There are currently eight in the Las Vegas Valley, including one inside Caesars Palace. Another, set to open at Harrah’s Laughlin this month, will be the first to feature a full bar.
Directly below the future Smashburger, the shuttered former Seafood Buffet spot is being sweetened up for a little kiss…er, KISS. As in KISS By Monster Mini Golf. While I wasn’t able to breach the barricades on the casino level, Rio’s PR people are already alerting visitors to the upcoming relocation of the semi-popular off-Strip attraction to Masquerade Village.
I spotted this VW Beetle decked out in full KISS regalia a few feet away from the now-deceased Flair Bar below the Masquerade Village escalators. Alas, the nearly-empty secondary casino has minimal foot traffic these days, so the fact that they chose a Volkswagen instead of a Mini Cooper (duh) to advertise Mini Golf won’t have many heads to go over.
KISS Mini Golf is slated to open in mid-May, joining the recently-relocated ROCK OF AGES inside Rio’s massive echo chamber. You may remember this as the same location of that infamous belly-flop (and worldwide embarrassment) known as Duck Commander Musical. Rock Of Ages, with our without Bourbon Room to accompany it, is a big step in the right direction. But with its seemingly endless collection of shuttered restaurants, shops, and bars, Masquerade Village still has a long way to go before it’ll be deemed worthy of your time.
If you have no idea how much fun Masquerade Village used to be, check out this YouTube clip from its glory days, circa 2007:
Photos: [Sammasseur, Marvel]