Takeaways from the Palms Multi-Million-Dollar Revamp

Camden Cocktail Lounge Las Vegas
Image: Camden Cocktail Lounge / Clique Hospitality

Jason "JRoc" Craig and Ryan Labbe are industry giants in the Las Vegas nightlife scene. The knowledgeable and influential duo have launched some of the most anticipated venues in Vegas using expertise gleaned from several years of working for the most respected of hospitality groups.

Their latest venture is part of the Palms' $690-million-dollar renovation covering all corners of the resort property. JROC and Labbe have focused their time on revamping Apex Social Club and Camden Cocktail Lounge. Neither are known for slowing down, so Greene St Kitchen is soon to follow. 

So, what do you do when you're handed the keys to an iconic brand and property like the Palms with its rich history and high visibility? While that seems like a big question with an equally sizable answer, JROC and Labbe's challenge isn't that different from the one faced by any operator who's opening any size venue. It all comes down to focusing on the customer experience and creating a vibe that draws people in and amplifies the conversation and their reactions.

Join the Nightclub & Bar Show Guest List

Get exclusive access to America's Largest Bar Expo

Take your business to the next level and join thousands of industry experts in Las Vegas March 30-April 1, 2020 at Nightclub & Bar Show - America's Largest Bar Expo! Celebrating 35 years, 2020 will be packed with hundreds of new events including The Bar of the Future, Keynotes, Workshops, Expo Floor Demos, city-wide training courses and much more! Join the Guest List for exclusive offers and updates.

We sat down with the Dynamic Duo of Las Vegas for a sneak preview of what they'll cover during their Nightclub & Bar Show session this year.

 

The Palms has undergone a massive transformation. What do you make of all the changes and what are you two most excited about?

Jason “JROC” Craig: The renovation at the PALMS Casino Resort is definitely fun to watch as both Ryan and I have a fond love for the property not only professionally, but personally as well. I worked there for a number of years before we created our concepts, and at one point, Ryan was a partygoer back in the glory days.

Read this: Be More than Good Enough: Transform Your Bar into a Destination

We are most excited to open our newest venue at the PALMS, Greene St. Kitchen, but overall, the entirety of the property is the most exciting part. Once the PALMS is firing on all cylinders, I believe the glory days will be back once again.

While designing new concepts, what consumer trends and behaviors are important for operators to think about, and how have you two implemented those into your newest venues?

JROC: The nightlife landscape, as well as the Vegas trends, tend to change every four years or so, and you have to prepare for this. By that I mean the music landscape has changed to bigger, more expensive venues, new hotels properties, etc. The marketing also changes depending on what’s hot and what clubgoers want to hear musically.

Read this: Blow Shit Up: Tanisha Robinson on Crowdfunding Your Venue and Brand Expansions

For example, at one point, EDM and dance music had a huge influx of the big-name DJs, and as a result, big rooms in Vegas were born. Talent bookings became the standard here and if you didn’t pay to play you were having a tough time or had to change your strategy.

What information do you hope attendees will take away from your session, “Grand Concept & Design Creation,” at the 2019 Nightclub & Bar Show?

JROC: I hope people will take away the importance of a creative strategy and having a competitive edge. Also, I hope they take away an understanding of the strong work ethic it takes to get to this point.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by JROC ⚡️Jason Craig (@iamjroc) on

 

Ryan, you’re known for your guerrilla-style approach to marketing, like creating flash mobs in the middle of Las Vegas. What should other nightclub and bar promoters think about or look to for inspiration?

Ryan Labbe: It’s about thinking outside of the box and doing things that the other person isn’t doing. You have to get creative in your approach to set yourself apart.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ryan Labbe (@ryanlabbe) on


Jason, as a counter and complement to Ryan’s style, your marketing expertise comes from past work with the N9NE Group and overseeing VIP services. What lessons did you take away from your prior roles, and which would you pass along to the next generation of hospitality professionals?

JROC: Play to your strengths and surround yourself with people better than you in all different aspects of the business. As with any team, you’re only as strong as your weakest link, and if not corrected, areas of your business will suffer.
 
The spaces Apex Social Club and at Camden Cocktail Lounge have different feels. How did you come up with the concept for both venues, and what unique vibes are you trying to create?

JROC: When approaching both venues, we wanted each to have their own unique vibe as we wanted to give the guest different nightlife options. Similar to our concept at the Cosmopolitan, CliQUE Bar and Lounge, Camden Cocktail Lounge is a high-end cocktail lounge offering food and a different programing style that caters to sports and other events.

Read this: Exclusive Sneak Peek: How to Become a Blue Ocean Operator

For APEX Social Club, we wanted to capture a different customer, and considering it is a nightclub space with an amazing patio overlooking the strip, we wanted that venue to provide multiple offerings. Even though our other upcoming concept at the PALMS, Greene St. Kitchen, is a restaurant, the look and feel of this space will be completely different from the other two.
 
Some of our operators are from smaller markets with much smaller budgets than those to which you have access. What advice can you give them for creating over-the-top experiences with limited resources?

JROC: One of the key things is getting creative with events and involving your customers and others in the industry. We’ve all been to a great house party or Halloween party in the past, and having a good time is all about the experience you create. The attention to detail in these events is also key, and with social media these days, there are so many unique ways of marketing pre- and post-event for very little cost.

During their session, “Grand Concepts & Design Creation,” Jason and Ryan will share how bar, nightclub and restaurant operators can implement and develop the right conceptual elements to give guests the ultimate experience. They'll be joined by David Manica, the architect behind NFL stadiums and the award-winning cocktail bar Monarch, our 2019 Cocktail Bar of the Year. You won't want to miss this—register now!

Suggested Articles

Most bar owners are one lawsuit away from losing everything and having to start over. This strategy can protect you and your assets.

Kaveh Zamanian, founder of award-winning Rabbit Hole Distillery, created a modern distillery campus with a real cocktail bar inside.

These tips from security expert Manny Marquez will help you rise above industry standards and survive lawsuits.