Pawn Stars’ Rick Harrison, the man behind Downtown’s new Pawn Plaza, gives us a look at what to expect from the unconventional shopping center.
If you’ve driven through Downtown anytime over the past six months or so, you’ve no doubt noticed the eye-catching construction taking place just steps away from Rick Harrison’s Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.The project, Pawn Plaza, also belongs to Harrison, who thought of it last summer as a place for fans of his hit History channel series, Pawn Stars, to dine, drink, and pass the time before or after dropping by the shop.
Much like the nearby Container Park, the center’s colorful cubes are actually repurposed shipping containers, and once they’re assembled they’ll house 16 retailers over 6,000 square feet of space. So far, the roster includes eateries like Smoke’s Poutinerie, Rita’s Italian Ice, and Rick’s Rollin’ Smoke BBQ & Tavern; the apparel stores Vegas Flip Flops and So-Cal Speed Shop; and the center’s two most recent additions, Pawn Donut & Coffee and Inna Gadda di Pizza, which come courtesy of 34th Floor Hospitality, the firm that created the Cosmopolitan’s relentlessly popular Secret Pizza counter. In advance of the center’s projected opening date of October 1, we caught up with Harrison to chat about his hopes for Pawn Plaza and its impact on the surrounding neighborhood.
How has the experience of putting together Pawn Plaza been so far?
RICK HARRISON: Well, we’ve been filming during construction, which has been a literal nightmare. It’s really hard when you have a film crew next to construction—there’s been a lot of juggling because of that.
Tell us a bit about what we can expect when you open the center in October.
RH: It’s going to be a full experience. We plan on having live music every Friday and Saturday night. The people who did Secret Pizza [at the Cosmopolitan] are doing something at our place. There’s Rita’s, which everybody loves, Smoke’s Poutinerie—I mean, who doesn’t like fries with gravy?—a coffee place, So-Cal Speed Shop, Vegas Flip Flops. We’re also going to have a little Pawn Stars-themed wedding chapel in there, and Rollin’ Smoke, my bar. I think it’s going to be a really cool destination. I average around 4,000 people a day now [at the shop], so they’ll be able to walk around and go shopping, or get something to eat or a drink.
A rendering of the finished Pawn Plaza
Most of the tenants you’ve announced so far are smaller businesses. How are you choosing them?
RH: You know, my finance guy was gritting his teeth with these big, corporate fast food chains, and I was going, “Nope.” I wanted to make it cool, because people will only go in if it’s cool. If you just have the same old, same old in there, it’s not going to be a great success. I want it to be different, maybe a little weird—that’s basically the criteria.
The design is also a little different than the usual Vegas developments.
RH: My wife actually took one look at the original plan and said, “A man designed this, didn’t he?” She more or less redesigned the whole shopping center—the color scheme, the canopy, and just about everything else. It was a lot different before—a lot more “blah.” Everyone seems to think she did an amazing job.
What do you hope Pawn Plaza will do for the neighborhood?
RH: I hope more places like mine pop up around there. I would love to maybe build some more stuff down there if it’s really successful. But I’m a businessman; my main goal is to make money. I love this town, and I love to see people work. I think it’s going to be fun—like with the bar I’m opening, I plan on bartending a couple of nights a week. I got my TAM card, my health car, all that fun stuff.
I mean, I’m behind what’s probably the first major construction in 20 years down there, and I do bring a lot of people down there. That’s one thing I tout on television all the time—just make it easy to do business, and people will. If there was a little less bureaucracy in this world, I think there would be a lot more business.
What are some of your favorite places to hang out Downtown?
RH: I love La Comida—it’s absolutely great—and Eat. I love my son’s bar, Beauty Bar. It’s getting really cool; I like a lot of the places down there. It’s so much better than 30 or 40 years ago.
Pawn Plaza is tentatively slated to open on October 1 at 725 S. Las Vegas Blvd., across from Rick Harrison’s Gold & Silver Pawn Shop.