Seventy years after the neon cowboy, Vegas Vic, first started waving his neon thumb over visitors' heads in downtown Las Vegas, the family that still owns his trademark has opened a jazz lounge in his name. In opening Vic’s, brothers Paul and Chris Lowden are adding one more offering to downtown’s cultural epicenter, in the form of a vibey lounge for watching live performances over Italian food.
Located inside Symphony Park and next to the Smith Center of Performing Arts and the Discovery Children’s Museum, Vic’s is a single-story venue with a bar, sports lounge, and main dining room for taking in live music over dinner. Designed for live jazz and blues, the main dining room is built to scatter and absorb sound. The tables are lightly padded to reduce the clatter of plates and silverware and they fan out away from the stage, providing a view of the action to every seat, booth, and setee.
The kitchen is helmed by chefs Miguel Magaña and Rolando Uclaray. The menu skews Italian with pasta dishes of rigatoni carbonara and spaghetti bolognese. There’s also Pop’s meatballs and a selection of flatbreads. “Let’s not forget the grilled cheese,” says Magaña. ”It’s a breaded and fried grilled cheese, almost like a Monte Cristo.” It comes with tomato soup. The specialty is the Vic’s chicken, a seasoned and roasted half chicken, cut into five segments and fried until crispy on the outside. “And then we dress it with tomato and lemon vinaigrette,” says Magaña. Other specialties available both in the dining room and at the bar include veal Milanese with tomato vinaigrette, skirt steak with shoestring fries, the Mr. Luckee salad with crispy chicken breast and wontons, and crispy eggplant with cheese and Pomodoro.
A sound-proofing glass pane divides the main dining room from the bar, where visitors can look out at the stage and sip cocktails such as the blue oyster cult and Parisian paradise. Later this year, the bar will have 15 gaming machines. A sports lounge beyond the bar is decked with plush leather seating, deep walnut wood furniture, and big-screen TVs for sports-viewing. It's also the home to a collection of the Lowdens’ Vegas memorabilia. A light-up display at the room’s rear is the old Keno board from the Pioneer Club in Laughlin — the long-gone Pioneer Club on Fremont Street was Vegas Vic’s home since 1951. The Pioneer Club is now a souvenir shop.
The concept for Vic’s had initially been developed as a country bar — more like Lowden’s other local bar, Stoney’s Rockin’ Country, and the soon to open, Stoney’s North Forty. “Vic’s was originally a sultry pop-country super-hip acoustic venue we designed for the Virgin in Nashville,” says Chris Lowden. “Then Covid came and the project fell apart. So we just had this project.” The City of Las Vegas introduced the site to Lowden and mentioned a need for something different to move into the space. “We produce jazz albums. Our father is a musician, a good one. I thought it might be cool to do something that my parents could hold court in.”
The Lowdens anticipate Vic’s to benefit from its proximity to the Smith Center. On most nights that the performing arts center holds performances, the Arts District is flooded with attendees, rushing into Esther’s Kitchen and Main St. Provisions for a pre- or post-show meal. With a total capacity of 250, the Lowdens expect Vic’s to absorb a good portion of that traffic. It’s also located next to the Auric Symphony Park apartments, with 1,000 or so people in need of a place to eat.
Vic’s is open now from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. for lunch and again from 5 p.m. until midnight for dinner. The bar is open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.