Piano envy: Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar
Tue, Nov 10, 2009 (7:05 p.m.)
Two pianos are better than one. Here to combat the severe shortage of “Greased Lightnin’” lyrics being shouted bar-wide at the top of lungs in Vegas, it’s Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar.
“This is a throw your arm around your neighbor and party with everybody place,” says Richard Taylor. The exuberant general manager of Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar has a slight Texas drawl and is exactly the kind of guy you’d raise your glass with during a rousing chorus of “Piano Man.”
Opening this Friday, with a grand opening celebration scheduled for November 18, Pete’s will add some piano pizazz to Town Square nightlife. The Dueling Piano Bar will be open for business Tuesday though Saturday, 4 p.m. to 4 a.m., with a happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., though Taylor jokes, “Every hour is happy hour at Pete’s!”
Pete’s originated in 1992 as Pete’s Peanut and Piano Bar Emporium in Austin, Texas—complete with a layer of peanut shells on the floor. “It started off appealing a lot to the college age kids,” Taylor says. “We had a lot of fraternity/sorority parties in there to begin with, and then it switched over to more of a local mainstay.” Eventually, two piano players squared off against each other for the dueling piano show and Pete’s added three additional locations in Texas.
This fifth outpost—the first outside the Lone Star state—has two bars running the length of each sidewall and a U-shaped drink rail to protect 40 central low-top tables from stumbling revelers. Though Pete’s doesn’t serve food (and no, the peanuts aren’t around anymore, either) reservations are recommended on Fridays and Saturdays, if you’d like to snag a table.
Taking a seat won’t mean emptying your wallet. Pete’s will never charge a cover and drinks average around $5 to $7. Be sure to check out their signature Pete’s Rockin’ Tea for a Southern kick with peach sweet tea flavored vodka and lemonade.
If you can still see straight after taking advantage of the lower than average drink prices for a night out in Vegas, focus on the two baby grand pianos front and center with four players rotating throughout the night after the show begins at 8 p.m. (before which there will still be live music).
At the bottom of every hour, bartenders and wait staff get in on the entertaining, hopping up on the two bars and stage. That doesn’t mean audience members should attempt to take control of the mic and piano to sing songs from The Little Mermaid (yes, we mean you, Weekly contributor Rick Lax). “We want to let the entertainers do the entertaining,” Taylor says. “It’s not a karaoke bar; it’s a sing-a-long bar.”
Taylor says it’s a very energetic show and wants customers out of their chairs, clapping and laughing as the pianists interject humor and occasionally roast patrons. “Some people get the impression that a piano bar is kind of a lounge act, sitting back sipping your drink. This is a driving entertainment show. People come here to celebrate.”