Las Vegas, home to most every celebrity chef you can conjure up both on and off the small screen is known as a culinary destination for their gastronomic delights. Before there was the glitz and glitter of multinational gaming corporations building palatial resort casinos on what became the “strip”, there was downtown and Fremont street where Las Vegas really began. Sadly, for many years, its casinos where old time gamblers spent their last penny and those that did, found a home in an alley or under an overpass abiding their last days.
Yes, it was a sad place, a tourist haven and even dangerous if an unsuspecting, inebriated guest wondered a little too far away from the relative safety of the dimming lights of every imaginable color.
But then came entrepreneur billionaire Tony Hsieh who built Zappos, rode into the city like a knight on a white horse to literally save the day, moving his headquarters and employees right in the middle of downtown and creating his Downtown project. This self-made billionaire is continuing to change the downtown area building by building, block by block and even container by container.
Recently, The Las Vegas Container Park opened on east Fremont street, a street that just a few short years ago was home to dilapidated small motels of questionable nature. Today this same area features small locally owned restaurants, bars, boutiques and coffee houses supported by Zappos employees who live in renovated, chic apartments that were once uninhabitable. The word has gotten out and now Zappos employees , locals and tourists alike drink, sip and dine together just as Tony Hsieh in visions on what he calls “collisions “.
The Container Park was made as a place for start up companies to gain some traction. On opening day, there was a line outside and has been a hub of activity ever since. For example, there is Big Ern’s that began as a catering service and now it has a brick and mortar location or shall we say container location.
The park features 43 retail business, restaurants, bars, a playground that has a shipping container converted into a 30-foot-tall treehouse with three slides, observation tower, and stage that showcases musicians throughout the day and into the evening. What IS a Container Park you are most likely asking by now? Downtown Container Park is about 19,000 square feet, a mix of 30 shipping containers and multifunctional modular cubes forming its boundaries. The cubes are steel-framed and encompass 250 square feet.
The entrance features a pretty famous insect. A 55-foot-tall steel praying mantis sculpture built atop a dump truck greets each and every guest. Artists Kirk Jellum and Kristen Ulmer made the piece for Burning Man, an art festival held in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. At night “The Mantis” shoots flames from its antennae to the amazement of all from blocks away.
Keeping in the entrepreneurial spirit, the Container Park isn’t intended as a permanent location for businesses. It’s intended to give start ups a chance to thrive and find bigger, permanent locations. There are plenty of those in this one of a kind venue.
We highly suggest BIN 702 for the oenophiles. Enjoy one of the most comprehensive selections of wine on tap in Las Vegas , take a prime seat on the patio, and enjoy live music from the stage very nearby. Of course you need mouthwatering bites to enjoy with your wine. Bin 702 offers a wide array of artisanal cheese, meat plates, salads, and paninis.
The word here is sustainable, with dressings and aiolis made from scratch on-site with the best domestic and imported ingredients available.
If in the mood for a Martini , stop into The Boozery . We love this unique cocktail lounge in a shipping container. As they say themselves, “No name has ever been more appropriate “. Enjoy local spirits and beer inside or outside the container on their deck.
We mentioned celebrity chefs on the strip earlier, why not stop into Pork & Beans which is a collaboration of Future Restaurant Group and celebrity chef Kerry Simon. The menu is small but Chef Nona Sivley plates up fresh Pork & Beans, artisanal sausage and bean dishes as well. In addition to pork, beans, cheese and booze we also recommend Simply Pure. This is a really cool gourmet vegan raw food venue. Enjoy fresh organic ingredients that you will not be disappointed in.
The Down Town Container Park is not to be missed. Enjoy an afternoon as it fades into evening for the total experience.