Monday mornings on the Las Vegas Strip are slow, sleepy, and notably devoid of people. But not inside the Peppermill Restaurant and Fireside Lounge where, even before 9 a.m. on a Monday, families with children, tourists in casino T-shirts, and pairs of suit-clad businessmen are already filling up the lobby. The wait is 30 minutes and hungry early risers — and night owls, it’s safe to assume — bide their time by thumbing through the behemoth of a menu, scanning the neon interior, and carrying on conversations as waiters bob and weave around them, hoisting trays overflowing with pancakes, omelets, and platters of sliced fruit.
The Peppermill is an anomaly. At 50 years old, it’s a relic by Vegas standards — buildings with more curb appeal have been imploded within fewer years. The waitresses buzz around the diner wearing blue retro-style pinafore dresses over white shirts. Bussers move at breakneck speed, filling mugs with hot coffee and emptying syrup-laden plates into Rubbermaid bins. And, even at this early hour, cocktail servers in sparkly floor-length ball gowns glide across the room soliciting orders for the bar — making a compelling argument for ordering a mudslide first thing in the morning.
Located on the far end of the Las Vegas Strip, across the street from the new Resorts World casino and just north of the Wynn resort, the Peppermill has one thing that many of its neighbors don’t: regulars. “We get people from other countries who come back again and again, every year or so. And we have locals, some who come in every day,” says general manager Peggy Orth.
She would know. Orth started working at the Peppermill as a waitress when she was 17, clocking in 30 years as a manager and nearly 50 in total. She starts her mornings making the rounds, visiting customers seated in the blue and purple booths speckled with light coming in through the windows. Above each black table is a vintage pendant lamp, with stained glass images of flamingoes stepping through reeds. Overhead, the jewel tones swirl in the flattened disco ball of a ceiling, obscured only by the branches of fake cherry blossom trees that loom over each table. Bars of pink and blue neon run along the perimeter, as though containing all of that vintage Vegas glitz within the borders of their glass tubes.
Executive chef Nicholas Orth, Peggy’s son, runs the kitchen. All-day, he serves oversized portions of sweet waffles crowned with chunks of fruit, three-egg Benedicts, and omelets filled with sausage and cheese that flows over the edges of the plate. At lunch and dinner, the kitchen is abuzz with burgers, piled high and held together with wooden skewers, BLTs with drippy eggs on Texas toast, and deep-fried fish and chips.
Despite having all the hallmarks of a great diner, the chef shies away from that description. “We try not to associate ourselves with being a diner or a greasy spoon,” Orth says. “But yes, we are a diner because we offer your breakfast items at late night — but we also have a $50 rib-eye and a red pepper pasta with breaded chicken and fresh herbs. And they’re very popular.” About eight years ago, Peggy took down the sign out front that labeled the Peppermill as a coffee shop, opting instead to highlight the Fireside Lounge, its adjacent bar. Just past the diner’s host stand, the dimly lit room of the Fireside Lounge opens to a ’70s-style conversation pit, with a fire blazing inside a pool of water at the center. Everything is tinged with red, with light emanating only from the fire, the neon, and the TVs placed around the velvet booths, each showing retro music videos of Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” and “Our Lips are Sealed” by The Go-Go’s. It’s especially popular on weekend nights when the bar and restaurant are open 24 hours.
The location — and luxury of a dedicated parking lot — make the Peppermill a reliable haunt for locals and casino workers, and historically, it had been a popular spot for Vegas mobsters. Up until his death in 2020, Frank Cullotta, a member of Tony Spilotro’s Hole in the Wall Gang burglary ring, would regularly stop in for breakfast. “He would come in all the time and tell stories of his escapades,” Peggy laughs. She says that a significant portion of tourist traffic comes from word-of-mouth or from people having seen the Peppermill’s appearances in movies like Casino and Showgirls.
Peggy says she isn’t leaving anytime soon, despite fielding plenty of job offers. “People are hungry for service, someone that respects the dollars they’re spending. And we really do. The bussers, the hosts, the girls, we care that you’re here,” Orth says. “I love the customers I’ve met over the years. I wouldn’t go anywhere else.”