Next month, one of the oldest casinos on the Las Vegas Strip will close for good, after which it will be demolished, the lot replaced by a baseball stadium. The Tropicana Las Vegas opened in 1957 and it will close on Tuesday, April 2 — days before the 67th anniversary of the resort’s opening. The closure means parting with the resort’s Laugh Factory comedy club, the legitimately beautiful stained glass that soars over the table games — hopefully rehomed before the demolition — and its restaurants. Most of the restaurants inside the Tropicana are forgettable, serviceable. But Restaurant: Impossible host Robert Irvine’s Public House is also just weeks away from its final service.

Robert Irvine’s Public House opened in 2017, an event that may be memorable to anyone who drove past the Tropicana in the 12 months or so leading up to the opening when a towering and super-jacked Irvine was pasted over an entire side of the building. He first announced his restaurant by rappelling 22 stories down the side of the Tropicana. On opening night, he arrived via helicopter.

At the time, the Food Network star was at peak popularity and touted a laundry list of extravagant implementations for Public House — a restaurant name so trite and unoriginal that it often became conflated with Las Vegas restaurants PublicUs and Public School. He said the restaurant would reflect his international travels and that the space was built for TV shoots. The chef also claimed in a Review-Journal interview that its “servers [would] do something servers never do” — and then coyly opted not to elaborate.

Cut to seven years later: the restaurant was never part of a television show. The “international” menu never got more worldly or ambitious than a Margherita pizza, and the most exciting thing its servers ever did was ask the table if they were ready to order or needed more time. Time proved that Irvine’s promises to not be an absentee chef were short-lived.

The interior of Robert Irvine’s Public House, with a sign on the wall.

Robert Irvine’s Public House.
Amelinda B Lee

Public House will close along with the resort’s other restaurants including the higher-end Oakville Tuscan Grill, the quick-service Red Lotus Asian Kitchen, the Trago Lounge cocktail bar, a coffee shop, and a small bar for frozen daiquiri drinks called Chill’m.

Back when the Tropicana first opened, the Las Vegas Strip looked a lot different. The population of Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, had just surpassed 100,000. The Tropicana’s opening was followed the next year by the opening of the Stardust — which was imploded beneath a fireworks display in 2007. The resort’s history has included ties to the mob, the long-running topless show “Folies Bergere,” and performances by the likes of Louis Armstrong and Gladys Knight.

An archway of stained glass over table games.

Stained glass ceiling at the Tropicana.
Janna Karel

Las Vegas has never shied away from demolishing its historical buildings — most recently imploding a casino, the Riviera, in 2016. The Tropicana is being destroyed to make way for a $1.5 billion Major League Baseball stadium that will home the relocating Oakland Athletics. The stadium will be about a mile away from the Strip-adjacent Allegiant Stadium and down the street from T-Mobile Arena, where the Vegas Golden Knights play. Following the inaugural year of the Formula One Grand Prix for the city, it’s just the latest move to firmly solidify Las Vegas as a sports town, and for Vegas landmarks to live only in our collective memory.

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