A Texas-based Mexican restaurant and sports bar is partnering with a Las Vegas hospitality company to open what it describes as the “first-ever hotel-casino dedicated to the Latino community.” Ojos Locos, a breastaurant chain that has been described as “Mexican Hooters,” will open on Monday, February 6 with a 10,000-square-foot casino with a hotel and a restaurant in North Las Vegas. The casino is a first for the Ojos restaurant brand, which says on its website that “the concept was built to cater to the Latino, bringing you a comfortable laid-back sports cantina.”
The restaurant was founded by restaurateurs including Randy DeWitt, the owner of the parent company that previously founded fellow breastaurant, Twin Peaks. “We have been identified in the past as a Mexican Hooters,” says Laura Caudillo, the vice president of growth for Ojos Locos. Ojos Locos’s cocktail servers and bartenders, which the brand calls its “chicas,” wear uniforms similar to those of Twin Peaks with tight tank tops and short skirts. It’s all very reminiscent of when Hooters opened a short-lived casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
While the Las Vegas Valley is home to several exceptional Latinx-owned restaurants and sports bars, the Ojos Locos Sports Cantina Y Casino is positioning itself as a destination for Latinx customers. Caudillo says that Ojos caters to the Latinx community through staff, language, and atmosphere. She estimates about 80 percent of the music heard in its cantinas is Latin in origin, that most of the staff speaks Spanish, and that signage — both directional and decorative — is written in Spanish, often with cheeky innuendos. “The restaurant has an unfinished look,” says Caudillo. “Consumers know the look of corrugated aluminum and know it looks like their construction sites. It’s nice, but not so nice that they don’t want to come in in their work boots.”
The new casino will replace the defunct Lucky Club Hotel & Casino at 3227 Civic Center Drive. Ojos Locos restaurant seats nearly 300 customers.
The restaurant chain, which has 26 locations, serves Mexican and Latin American fare like ceviche, elote, and tacos, as well as buffalo chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and boneless wings. It also pours margaritas and offers fun self-pour drafts shaped like soccer balls. The interior will feature rustic decor with reclaimed wood and corrugated tin roofs, evocative of beachside bars typically seen at Mexico’s coastal resorts.
The chain is not without controversy. In 2018, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the owner/operators of Ojos Locos Sports Cantina in Albuquerque, New Mexico, charging them with having violated federal law by subjecting a group of female employees to sexual harassment while they were working. In 2019, the chain paid $700,000 and provided other relief to settle the lawsuit, though the company denied the allegations. In March 2022, residents of Downey, California, reportedly pushed back against the opening of a location in their neighborhood near the local high school.
At the North Las Vegas location, a video poker bar will have seats for 35. The casino will have 200 gaming machines and a new sportsbook, plus wall-to-wall TVs broadcasting sports. Las Vegas-based Fifth Street Gaming, which operates several small casinos in town, owns Hotel Jefe, the casino’s 90-room hotel.
Ojos Locos Sports Cantina Y Casino opens on Monday, February 6 at 3227 Civic Center Drive in North Las Vegas.