Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Rethinking Tropicana's layout

I am a bit surprised to hear that Bacio at Tropicana has cut their hours. As I said in my review of the restaurant, I think it's a solid restaurant (though I'd stay away from the Gnocchi.) So for it to cut its hours is a bit surprising, and an indication that something isn't working. So the puzzle for the Trop to solve is why this restaurant isn't working. I can think of two reasons:

1. Pricing My Gnocchi cost $24. Ignoring my feelings on the quality of the Gnocchi, it's not a difficult pasta to make. And considering the sauce was a simple meat sauce, I'm not sure what gave it the $24 price point. That's not all though - get Veal Parmesan, and it will cost you $42! If they set the price point about $5 lower, people would be much more likely to eat there.

2. Location First, a story. Last year during my Memorial Day trip to Vegas, there was a pool party held at the Tropicana pool. It went well, but one consisten complaint was that it was difficult to find the pool, with the signage being rather confusing. The signage for the pool has been fixed, but it remains for Bacio. To get to Bacio, you have to go through the casino floor, take an escalator to the second floor, walk around a promenade and the go down a hall until you reach Bacio. When you enter, there is no signage to indicate where to go for Bacio, so unless you head towards the general area of Bacio, you wouldn't know where it is.

What's a bigger issue is that these issues aren't just Bacio issues, but they are common to all of the restaurants in the Tropicana. Indeed, if you enter the Tropicana through the main entrance, the only food option within any sort of sight line is the sundry store. The restaurants aren't even readily visible as you move around in the casino, or when you head down the path to lead you there. Instead they are buried behind multiple turns and are very close to "out of sight, out of mind."

You want to go to Biscayne? It's right across from Bacio. It's also more expensive than Bacio - the prices are closer to Carnevino. It's one thing for Carnevino to charge these prices - they have the star chef, along with a reputation for being a top steakhouse. Biscayne has neither of these. And implicitly, both Bacio and Biscayne acknowledge this by offering a prix fix menu at a great discount. Bacio gives an app, main course, dessert, glass of house wine and coffee or tea for $33.99 when it would normally cost $45+ for all of this. Biscayne has a $39.99 4 course meal which also includes a wine pairing. By putting these menus out there, they send a message that the prices on he actual menu might be exaggerated a bit.

Cafe Nikki also suffers from a similiar price issue - the cheapest entree it has is $24. It does have sandwiches and burgers available, but those are in the $15-$18 range. Want something decent for breakfast? Too bad for you. Cafe Nikki only servesa breakfast buffet now. Even the pizza place in the food court is somewhat pricey - a $6 single burger seems like the best deal there.

All of this works against Tropicana. While thir rooms are refreshed and great (review still to come, honestly!), the lack of clearly visible restaurant options which are reasonably costed are sorely lacking. It's more than enough to drive somebody to MGM Grand and one of their multitude of options, or to New York New York and their All You Can Eat Pancake deal. If Tropicana doesn't come up with a creative way to drive foot traffic to their restaurants, they will find their other restaurants going dark for a couple of nights a week.

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