The first fast food joint to debut inside a Las Vegas casino didn't serve Big Macs. In 1984, Burger King kicked down that burger barrier by opening at the Riviera, serving "a new market, the middle casual market" the C.E.O. behind the decision explained. "Someday you're liable to see a Burger King at Caesars Palace, too," he prophesied.
That Burger King is long gone and the Riviera will also vanish soon, but directly across the street sits another fast-food innovation, slowly growing stale.
The largest McDonald's in Nevada opened in 2008, to much fanfare and surprise. Dubbed the Viva Mcdonald's, it offered flowers in vases on the tables, upholstered seating, abstract art on the high walls and a hub of TV screens showing footage from the McDonald's Channel, a series of video segments packaged from cable channels. The space and exterior were considered new, game-changing and a rival to the company's Times Square flagship, a long way from the double-sloped Mansard roof diners of the past.
Seven years later, the 8,600-square-foot space has lost much of its novelty. The flowers are gone, the TV channel runs silently as music plays over the speakers and the Viva's souvenir T-shirts and over-sized cups embellished with the building's facade are now only sold on eBay.
The location, size and convenience of access has also created some unforeseen headaches. The area is under constant surveillance, with many signs warning against individuals hanging around the parking lot or using the location as a parking lot. Once promoted as a tourist destination for more than just a Big Mac, today, after 10 minutes all "unauthorized vehicles are subject to tow."