Review Journal: Pawn Plaza Remains Work in Progress in Downtown Las Veags
August 24, 2016 By Michael Kamber

The Kats! bureau at this writing is Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke Barbecue & Tavern at Pawn Plaza. This is the stack of restaurants in the multicolored strip mall of and shops on Las Vegas Boulevard just north of Gass Avenue, sharing a parking lot with Gold & Silver Pawn.

I just polished off an order of smoked mac and cheese, honey-slathered cornbread and an Arnold Palmer while taking inventory of what is and isn’t open at Pawn Plaza.

First, the quick story of this spot: Rick Harrison, who founded Gold & Silver Pawn in 1989 and has ascended to stardom on the History channel show “Pawn Stars,” opened Pawn Plaza in October. The idea was to filter the hordes of visitors to Gold & Silver Pawn to this Container Park-fashioned mall and build a business that would outlast the TV series. A bunch of independent businesses and small franchisees signed on to the project and awaited the tide of tourists.

Ten months on, we have an early verdict, and it’s that a poutine eatery next to a Vegas pawn shop is not quite a lead-pipe cinch. A few of the original businesses at Pawn Plaza have closed and moved out in the past week. Shutdowns (reported first by our friends at Las Vegas Advisor and confirmed Monday morning by the Pawn Plaza PR reps) include: Smoke’s Poutinerie, Pawn Coffee and Donut, Vegas Flip Flops and Inna Gadda di Pizza.

In a statement, Harrison said, “While we are disappointed to see some of our original tenants leave Pawn Plaza, it is the nature of this business. Tenants will shuffle around to some degree before we settle in with the perfect blend of businesses. We wish all of those departing the best of luck and look forward to announcing our new tenants very shortly.”

In a glass-half-full vein, Pawn Plaza reps mention many of the original Pawn Plaza businesses remain open: Rollin’ Smoke (obviously), Rockabilly Girl,Body Spa, So-Cal Speed Shop andPawn Plaza Vow Renewal and Weddings.

Crucial to the marketing draw of Pawn Plaza is Harrison’s role as bartender at Rollin’ Smoke Tavern on select weekends. At least one tenant has complained that Harrison has not followed through on some announced appearances, but his camp reminds that he does appear to sling drinks (and, likely, offer relationship advice) when he is in Vegas. A delayed flight for weather wiped out one announced appearance, but Harrison is back behind the bar this Friday and Saturday night starting at 8 p.m.

As always, Harrison’s specialty is any drink whose ingredients are same as the name — rum and Coke, vodka and soda, gin and lawn trimmings. Those, he can handle.

Just don’t ask for flip-flops.

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