While Robin Leach takes his traditional summer vacation under the Tuscan sun in Italy, many of our Strip and Las Vegas personalities have stepped forward in his absence to pen their own words of wisdom. Our thanks to them all. We continue with Jonathan Fine, owner and founder of Fine Entertainment Management, which includes Sting Alarm, PBR Rock Bar at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood and Ranch House Kitchen at Town Square.
In the 1940s, my grandfather Hank Greenspun foresaw the potential growth in Las Vegas, so he moved here and started a small community-publishing business. With the success of the Las Vegas Sun, he invested in other local businesses and purchased land. His philosophy was, “Family and community, that’s what’s important. Take care of the community, and they will take care of you.”
My father Mark married my mother Susan and moved back to Las Vegas. He came to the Valley to develop a community on my grandfather’s land. Housing developments were designed around schools and parks, and my dad’s vision was to create an environment for families to interact and embrace the community.
My father and mother never let me take their success for granted. They would tell me, “Summer is here; it’s time to get a job.” My first job was bussing tables at La Salsa. When I was 16, I peeled potatoes and was the janitor at Nathan’s Hot Dogs in a place called Carousel Commons. I recall the A.C. not working for an entire month. The smell still haunts me.
I always took the extra effort and would do the job that was needed. My parents taught me to never say, “That’s not what I was hired to do.” This is a viewpoint imparted to all of Fine Entertainment Management’s supervisors and employees.
My senior year of high school, I sold sunglasses and retail at Beyond the Beach in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. Every day, tens of thousands of tourists would shop in the mall. This is when I came to the realization that Las Vegas doesn’t manufacture cars, doesn’t grow corn and doesn’t drill for oil; we provide entertainment to 36 million people a year.
I realized that tourism is the backbone of Las Vegas: It provides jobs, pays our taxes and supports our schools and universities. Las Vegas is my community, and like my family before me, I wanted to develop businesses that would attribute to the city’s success. So, I asked myself: How can we make sure all the tourists have a good time? How does Las Vegas reinvent itself from a gaming destination and diversify to attract a wider range of people? How can we get them to come back every year?
Thinking about these questions caused me a lot of anxiety, but I knew that if I could find the answers, I would have the foundation for my future business ventures. I came back from college and started a security company, Sting Alarm. I knew it was a business segment that was missing in Las Vegas, and the profits put me in a position to invest in a business on the Strip.
My investment failed for many reasons, and I found myself owning and operating a bar directly across from the Forum Shops, where I had my epiphany about tourism years earlier. I had to create an environment for the masses of tourists to have a positive and affordable experience.
The hard work I was accustomed to could not prepare me for the struggles of the next few years. I used my last dollar to save this business, so seven nights a week, I did everything necessary to ensure Rockhouse Bar & Nightclub would not fail. I worked as security, DJ, janitor and even stood on the Strip handing out fliers. Rockhouse became known as a place visitors can enjoy a hassle free, fun, inexpensive bar and nightclub and where they could wear casual attire and still dance all night to the same music as the big nightclubs.
We replicated that same premise at PBR Rock Bar & Grill in the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood by offering high-quality, affordable food and drinks in a very fun atmosphere. Recently, we opened Ranch House Kitchen, a family-friendly restaurant at Town Square. We created Ranch House Kitchen with a healthier menu and lots of activities for families, along with 50 TVs for Dad to watch football.
Today, Fine Entertainment Management employs 600-plus residents of Clark County. In the orientation for each employee, we discuss the importance of the tourism market and making sure that every patron has a good experience. I tell my employees that everyone counts. Whether someone is dining for two hours or just buying a beer, smile; that person is adding to our community. Make sure they have a good time; we want everyone to enjoy our city and come back.
Our thanks to Jonathan for his insights of the hospitality business. Be sure to check out our other guest columns today from “Chopped” winner Christina Olivarez, executive chef of Diego at MGM Grand, and Flamingo headliner comedian George Wallace. Join us again Tuesday for singer Jeff Timmons at his new show “Wired”; celebrated chef and DJ Hubert Keller; and two ladies from Cirque du Soleil’s “Ka” who keep the MGM Grand spectacular running in tip-top shape.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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