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The Tao Partners Talk 10 Years of Partying and Breaking New Ground

Tao Asian Bistro and Tao Nightclub at the Venetian celebrate 10 years of making Vegas memories.

Jason Strauss, Rich Wolf, Noah Tepperberg, Marc Packer and Lou Abin at Tao.
Jason Strauss, Rich Wolf, Noah Tepperberg, Marc Packer and Lou Abin at Tao.

Ten years is quite a milestone for any restaurant in Las Vegas, but for Tao, it meant being the first combination of a nightclub and restaurant. The venue at the Venetian rings in its tenth year on Saturday still on top of its game and missing nary a beat, whether delivering dishes to a celebrity clientele or bringing in top talent at the nightclub. Here, partners Jason Strauss, Rich Wolf, Noah Tepperberg, Marc Packer and Lou Abin talk about the first 10 years of business at a concept imported from New York City but now truly an only in Las Vegas experience.

How did Tao come together?
I had been coming to Vegas for 30 years, Rich had been coming for 20 and we had watched the town grow and we knew there was a niche that hadn’t been filled of having a restaurant and nightclub brand where you could come and stay for the whole night. We had already successfully created Tao in New York and it was time to bring the iconic brand to Vegas and continue to expand. The Venetian, and namely Rob Goldstein, had the vision to see we could be successful here with such a large space and we could meet a variety of needs, with a restaurant, lounge, banquet space, nightclub and, later on, a beach club. —Marc Packer

What have you learned in the first 10 years of running Tao in Las Vegas?
Many, many things, but I think the thing that resonates most has to do with drive. We were blown away by the response we got when we opened and we knew that the experience had to be everything. Customer service, ambiance, music, energy, food, cocktails — it all blends to create the overall picture. It takes a lot of drive to maintain that but we have a responsibility to our guests, our employees and ourselves.  —Jason Strauss

What were you thinking about in terms of design of the restaurant?
I had lived in Japan and when it came time to design the restaurant, I took an extensive trip and just pounded the pavement through Japan, Thailand and China. I gathered found objects and worked them into the design, in some cases finding pieces without an idea of exactly how they would fit into the space. We wanted to bring in elements of various parts of Asia, with pieces old and new and impart an energy and sexiness that was right for Las Vegas. —Rich Wolf

How does the restaurant drive business to the nightclub and pool, and vice versa?
People know and trust the Tao brand and experience and know they are going to have a great time no matter the time of day. It is about the customer service we deliver. Someone’s first experience might be a corporate dinner when they are here for a convention, and the next time they come out on vacation they want to dine under the Buddha and show it off the nightclub to their spouse and be the one in the know to introduce them to something cool. —Lou Abin

How about celebrities? How do their appearances help the business?
Today’s culture is very celebrity focused and people love to go places that are celebrity favorites, or where they know there is a chance they might see a big name at the next table over. There is definitely a thrill in that for most people, and the celebrities themselves like to come to us because they know we are going to provide an unparalleled guest experience and they are going to have a great time when they are here. —Noah Tepperberg

What was the menu testing process like?
For Vegas, we started with what worked really well in New York, so that people who knew our brand from there would be familiar and then added in dishes that we thought would do well here. We all continue to get together to try new dishes any time there is a big menu change, and work with our chefs who travel through Asia for inspiration. —Marc Packer

One year in, what changed?
We knew going in there were going to be challenges of being the first to really combine a restaurant and nightclub together. I think the first year gave us the opportunity to really hone the operations to truly be able to execute our signature style of hospitality and to find the synergy to meet the needs of both the diners and the nightclub guests. —Rich Wolf

What’s the most unexpected thing that happened in the past 10 years?
It was always our goal to make Tao an iconic place, an institution, and we have done that, but maybe something unexpected is that even 10 years later our Worship Thursday event that we launched to locals as our very first event the week we opened is still going, and going strong.  That is something that is just unheard of in this market. —Noah Tepperberg

How about the craziest thing?
The craziest things stay in the vault of course — as they say what happens in Vegas stays here, which is true for me personally as well. I came to Vegas in 2005 to open Tao, planning to be here for just three months to get the venue launched and I am still living here full time 10 years later, so that is one of the craziest things for me. —Jason Strauss

What's the must order dish of the moment?
The sea bass is always a classic, and continues being a must-order dish since it was put on the menu 15 years ago in New York. I’m also excited about a new dessert, Japanese crepe cake with dark chocolate mousse, mandarin orange crepes topped with crunchy white chocolate and citrus rice crispies. —Lou Abin

What's on tap for the future?

We will continue to expand and grow, both in the Las Vegas market with our other brands, as well as taking the Tao brand to new markets. —All

Tao Nightclub

3355 Las Vegas Boulevard S, Las Vegas, NV 89109 702-388-8588 Visit Website

Tao Asian Bistro

3377 Las Vegas Boulevard S, Las Vegas, NV 89109 702-388-8338 Visit Website