Daily Archives: February 22, 2010

Death by Chocolate in Las Vegas

Willy Wonka has nothing over Max Brenner, or should we say Oded Brenner, right, the real Max Brenner.

Brenner, the epitome of the consummate professional sweet tooth, whips up a cavity-inducing array of pure chocolate decadence including such entrees as chocolate pizza, chocolate quesadillas, chocolate s’mores and, if that is not enough to smash competition, their utterly chocolate extravagance called The Sticky Caramel Chocolate Concoction. 

The Israeli-based premiere chocolate-to-die-for chain of Max Brenner stores, owned by the Strauss Group, now has worldwide domination squarely in their sights, planning to open this summer an enormous branch store in the Forum Shops in the Caesars Palace mall in Las Vegas, facing the H&M flagship store. 

The chocolate bar alone will spread over two floors and 9,310 square feet including more than 200 seats and a bar with 12 stools and bar tables. The Las Vegas branch will also offer a chocolate shop and a room for private parties of events of up to 45 people. 

Another Max Brenner branch is also expected to open soon in Boston, in the Restaurant Row area. It will spread over one floor measuring 5,844 square feet in size and will include about 150 seats as well as a full-service bar with stools, a chocolate shop and, yes, even a chocolate restaurant. 

According to Giora Bar-Dea, CEO of Strauss-North America:  “This year we began implementing our strategy to build Max Brenner as an international brand.  The opening of new branches in central Las Vegas and in Boston is aimed at introducing the brand in the West Coast of the United States and strengthening our international exposure, with the goal of opening additional branches in the continent.” 

About $5.35 million was invested to open both branch stores. 

The new branches will join the chain’s 30 branches worldwide: two in Manhattan, 18 in Australia, two in the Philippines, two in Singapore, and six in Isreael, the company’s headquarters, which houses 15 staff people, led by founder Oded Brenner. 

The Max Brenner chain was established in 1995 by Oded Brenner and Max Fichtman, and is now owned by the Strauss Group after it was acquired by Elite in 2001. The chain’s global sales turnover is $32 million annually.

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Filed under food, Las Vegas, news, Uncategorized

Elvis Presley Comes Back to Las Vegas

And you thought he was…dead?  Pshaw!  Elvis performed his last show in Las Vegas and now is back to his old Sin City haunts, if only in spirit.  But his show will, hopefully, run forever. 

Viva Elvis premiered on Feb. 19 and is the seventh Cirque du Soleil show on the Las Vegas Strip. It is one of the centerpieces of the new $8.5 billion MGM Mirage CityCenter, located in a new theater in the Aria Hotel and Casino. 

Viva Elvis features all of his greatest hits set to music and embellished with spectacular sets and effects, dancing and acrobatics. It positively fills the eyes-all the time steering clear of the somber and darker sides of Elvis, thanks to the untiring efforts of Priscilla Presley and Elvis Presley Enterprises to protect the Elvis legacy. 

This is a spectacularly beautiful show and it is one of only two Cirque shows in Las Vegas to employ a proscenium stage rather than using a theater-in-the-round setup. 

There are other singers, but the only male voice belongs to The King himself. The evening opens witha huge video-jukebox. On the screen is Elvis singing Blue Suede Shoes. It’s light, fun and immediately gets the audience in the mood for more of his music. Don’t Be Cruel is next, followed by Junior Clay, the only actor in the show. He is Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker. He comes out to explain that Elvis had a twin brother who died at birth and Elvis missed his twin his entire life. Thus he introduces the next number, One Night- a love song, more shouted than sung and is very effective. But here, for some reason, it’s used to portray brotherly love. 

Two acrobats do their schtick on a large wire guitar suspended upstage center. As they’re doing their acrobatics, there’s a woman sitting at an old upright piano softly playing and singing the song. No argument that Elvis missed his twin. And no argument that these two guys on the guitar are really good at what they do. The only argument is against taking such a passionate number and doing this to it. 

The next scene goes back to Elvis’ childhood in Tupelo, MS. Old photos are projected on the screen as the townsfolk carrying umbrellas come out on the stage and perform All Shook Up as a gospel tune. And the woman singing the song actually changes the lyrics to say “I’m itchin’ like a woman on fuzzy tree.”

The spectacle is a grand and joyous event that will stick in your mind for a long time — a terrific celebration of Elvis’ music. The dancing and acrobatics are lavish and exuberant. The on-stage band is exellent. And the production values are incomparable. It’s just plain fun to watch with wonderful sets, colorful costumes and captivating special effects. 

Yes, the show is a bit pricey in a struggling Las Vegas economy, tickets ranging from $114 to $200, but well worth the price if you can afford it.  Shows are at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Fridays though Tuesdays.  702-531-2031. 

Long live The King!

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Filed under entertainment, Music