Friday, January 7, 2011

Alex Closes... And the Whole (Vegas Foodie) World Mourns


I'm still in shock. I guess that's why it's taken me this long to write this. Alex is going bye-bye!

I know, I know... It's a tragedy.

And even worse, the vast majority of us will probably never be able to see that space again. It's becoming a private party venue.

Yet again, a victim of "The Great Bummer" that's been The Great Recession?

Alex Stratta’s beacon of French cuisine at Wynn Las Vegas is closing. The nearly six-year-old Alex restaurant will close its doors after service on Saturday, January 15, giving diners just seven days (Alex is open Wednesday-Saturday) to stop by and pay homage to the Michelin two-star restaurant.

The beautiful space will remain intact for special events.

“I’m really bummed out,” chef Stratta said Thursday afternoon. “It was a good run. I guess it was just time.”

The lavish restaurant has been one of the jewels of the Wynn’s dining program, winning Forbes (formerly Mobil) Travel Five Star Awards and AAA Five Diamond Awards for the last five years straight, along with the highly coveted Michelin two-star rating in 2008 and 2009.

A Wynn representative pointed to the strains of the economy as the reason for the restaurant’s closing, adding that “high-end French dining is not what people want these days.” Stratta will stay on with the resort to continue running his more casual, Italian-influenced restaurant, Stratta, and perhaps to work on yet-to-be-determined projects.

So what does this mean? Without a doubt, Vegas loses one of its brightest culinary stars. And not only that, but Alex Stratta made his name here! He became a star here. And now, his flagship restaurant dies here.

And why? So that Wynn can have a "private party venue" for D List "celebutards" to get wasted before getting even more wasted at Surrender?

John Curtas is definitely onto something when he talks about the "slow, steady dismantling of whatever gourmet food/restaurant reputation [Wynn/Encore] sought to create". With Daniel Boulud leaving last year and Alex leaving this year, Wynn has lost two of its three (well-deserved IMHO) Michelin starred restaurants. And more importantly, Wynn has lost two solid houses of superb French cooking.

These last three years haven't been easy on Vegas, and so far 2011 looks to be another year of dramatic highs and lows. Just as foodies celebrate the exciting new restaurants at Cosmopolitan, we're left wondering (again) WTF is happening to Wynncore.

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