Website & Blog Writing Samples
Categories: Lifestyle, Business, Travel, Dining, Cars, Entertainment, & Sports
Reported, researched, and written by Mike Stotts. Each article, ranging from small spot to feature length articles, also included my professional art: photography, slide shows, graphics, and/or videos, podcasts. To facilitate your review and brevity, in many examples, such items have been omitted. Written for clients from 2014 – 2016, with a frequency from one to three articles per week.
You can also quickly review by using the hyperlink to the following sample articles (ctrl + click over title):
California Pizza Kitchen Opening in Downtown Summerlin Brings Throngs of Happy Diners
The grand opening of the California Pizza Kitchen in Downtown Summerlin on November 19, 2014, marked their union with nearly 200 other distinctive “CPK” branded restaurants blanketing the country. And the distinctive California-themed casual dining cookery is also joining with their three other local Las Vegas, Nevada, restaurants: The Mirage Hotel & Casino, Town Square and Fashion Show Mall.
The public outcry and expressed demand for the new CPK restaurant in Downtown Summerlin to date has been no less than astounding. “Since August  we’ve nearly had 5,000 customer pre-signups,” says CPK employee Jade Anderson, adding, “Most of our restaurants take nearly a year to achieve that significant milestone.”
“We’ve been actively eyeing this Downtown Summerlin location for 10 years,” says Clint Coleman, chief development officer of CPK. “We finally made it happen- this is a very satisfying location.”
Believing in more than just taking in revenue, CPK also regularly delivers back to local community charities. With their pre-opening events alone, CPK has already donated to the After-School All-Stars and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The interior décor of this restaurant provides a new rustic look for the CPK chain while catering to local community art nuances, and using environmentally conscious reclaimed and repurposed materials in its construction, says Coleman.
For those wishing to take a break from the norm of dining room tables and chairs, there is even a nicely appointed cozy lounge for that special business- or intimate conversation.
But when contemplating dining at CPK, please be aware that it is not at all like partaking in the “other guy’s” pizza – you know, that greasy, cardboard-tasting lifeless pizza.
Rather, with their business mantra byline of “seek the unique,” whatever your palette, CPK consistently and dramatically delivers on their words, consistently using ingredients that are good tasting and healthy (many of their items are under 650 calories) – – all presented in a stylish, yet casually friendly and service oriented environment- where it’s obvious the waiters and waitresses are highly trained before being sent out to serve their clients.
Of course, their legendary signature hand-tossed BBQ chicken pizza is an emphatic must-try for foodies new to the CPK brand. The BBQ sauce is infused with smoked Gouda, fresh cilantro and red onions, and crust options include gluten-free, thin crust and whole grain wheat. Or maybe you would like to take a culinary adventure and try their sumptuous Thai chicken, featuring a grilled chicken breast delicately topped with peanut sauce and accompanied by crisp bean sprouts, julienned carrots and slivered scallions. There are also nearly 20 designer-topped pizza options to select from.
But don’t let their pizza moniker name fool you- the pizzas are not even approaching half of their unique dining experiences. Realizing that some patrons have limited time and perhaps less hunger pangs, they offer a variety of savory lighter fare small plates, a host of tempting appetizers, delicious soups, and many scrumptious specialty salads- with offerings starting at under $5.
And CPK debuted with their Downtown Summerlin opening what they call a “new chapter” in their entrees- offering a fire-grilled 12-oz USDA choice rib eye steak complimented with house made Pinot Noir sea salt, topped with creamy bleu cheese butter and served with roasted fingerling potatoes and lemon-garlic arugula salad. Trying it, it really is mouth watering for their new taste pairing sensation.
Quick lunch duos are also dining options, offering your choice of pizza or half sandwich, with a cup of soup or salad.
For those with heartier appetites, their main plate menus are plentiful. Ranging from wild caught hearth-roasted halibut with butternut squash farro, to smoked cedar plank salmon seasoned with paprika and lime, to Mahi Mahi panko-crusted tacos with fresh avocado, and, last but not least, there is the delectable chicken Milanese and piccata.
A smorgasbord of pasta offerings includes the crowd favorite chicken tequila fettuccine with a creamy jalapeno lime sauce and the delectable shrimp scampi zucchini with lemon, garlic and white wine.
But what tantalizing meal would be complete without a tasty non-alcoholic beverage or pleasant libation? CPK, again, delivers. Providing a “wine adventure guarantee,” CPK encourages its clientele to be daring and adventurous and taste a new wine from a large variety of whites, reds, and sangrias. If the wine taste selected does not thrill you, they will replace it with your regular favorite. And they also offer progressive wine flights, where you can taste and compare three 3-ounce pours.
And the CPK spirited cocktails are spirits from a uniquely pleasurable world. More than just having a small bar tucked away in a corner, CPK in Downtown Summerlin features a very large, full bar- the largest for their chain of restaurants. And more than just being ginormous, it is unique, showcasing liquor that is commonly not provided by other restaurant chains, including the George Clooney and Rande Gerber promoted Casamigos Tequila- try their smooth tasting Executive Decision cocktail and you will become a believer. For avocado lovers, your palette should experience their California Roots cocktail- Svedka vodka infused with avocado and mint- a taste not at all what you would think– better! And for those wishing a margarita with a spicy kick, then their Citrus Adobo Margarita made with chipotle adobo, Casamigos Tequila, and fresh orange and lime will assuredly give you pleasant memories, if not dreams.
Please always leave plenty of room for – you guessed it – a lusciously sweet treat to top it all off. CPK offers a wide selection of temptations, including their new salted caramel pudding, s’mores, key lime pie, or to induce immediate euphoric ceiling walking, try their Belgian chocolate soufflé cake.
To make your food indulgences even more satisfying, CPK offers their Pizza Dough Rewards program, where you earn many cost saving benefits with each visit. And you don’t need to find and show a card to be eligible, just say your name.
Come early, be hungry- and be sure to stay late to savor all their many health-conscious culinary delights.
Open for lunch and dinner daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. or later, depending on business, California Pizza Kitchen is in Downtown Summerlin, 10945 Oval Park Drive, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89135. http://www.cpk.com/locations/summerlin/
And to shorten your wait, you may use their call ahead reserved seating service- 702-978-5759.
Color me . . . a ‘Very Fun’ Las Vegas Runner!
Adding to its growing list of sports accolades, the Las Vegas valley has now become the veritable “Fun Run Capital of the World.” No matter the season of the year, runners of all shapes, sizes and personal persuasions crave lacing up their shoes just for the fun of it and then scurrying off to any event with the word “run” in it.
A cornucopia of “fun runs,” as they are affectionately called, are nearly a regular occurrence – running is not a requisite; a casual saunter or swagger will work just fine – where really the only main objective is purely amping up your personal fun.
A smorgasbord of sole delights awaits the derring-do’s: 80s Run, Ugly Sweater Run, Undie Run, Rock ‘n’ Roll (and not talking here just about the world famous Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon), and an exhaustive laundry list.
And now Las Vegas runner happiness is further augmented by the Color Run, otherwise dubbed as “The Happiest 5K on the Planet.” Runners and wannabes pass through balloon arches at race check points in their colorful clothing – or white T-shirts – and then proceed to get drenched by volunteer staff squirting a variety of blue, yellow, orange, and grey-colored flour mixture on them as they run or walk by- – probably not the same, hopefully, as you’ll see mixed in the bread you may later be having for lunch. (This eco-friendly soirée doesn’t even draw the ire from the Environmental Protection Agency!)
On February 25, thousands of runners will take part in the seventh-annual Color Run, a spritely five-kilometer zigzag through the cordoned off streets in the heart of historic downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, and color themselves into the history books, thus having been part of the largest event series of its kind in the world that annually hosts more than 300 events in over 50 countries.
So grab you neon duds, slither into your tutu and pull up your knee-high socks. It’s time to dance and run like nobody’s watching. Take commemorative selfies. Whatever strikes your fancy is the order of the day.
For more information:
Squelching Hot Las Vegas Gets Ice and Snow
Just because Las Vegas is usually one of the hottest and most arrid places on Earth, it doesn’t mean the Mojave Desert oasis is void of anything wintry. To wit, The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas Hotel and Casino now offers holiday ice skating (and yummy libations…it even snows!) from its upper deck overlooking the strip, while the swanky Summerlin mall, at the other end of the city, offers an outdoor ice skating rink. The venues are open from now through year’s end. Whoosh!
Cravers Mob White Castle Restaurant in Las Vegas Causing Shutdown
Two-inch square, flat and holey (some argue “holy”) ingots of steam-grilled, onion-drenched, 100% beef hamburgers wedged between bakery-fresh, heavenly buns, otherwise known as “sliders,” have become the ultimate royal kings in a white castle paying dutiful homage to Craver Nation– that’s what the White Castle cultist legion of foodies are called- who mobbed enforce the newly opened White Castle restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Like the hungry stoners portrayed in the 2004 flick “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” in their quest to snatch the down-the-hatch burgers, hundreds of people hungrily waited for hours with their happy mouths agape as the pleasurable gems flew off the many grills – at the astounding rate of 4,000 sliders per hour! – directly into their starving lil’craver stomachs, thus obliterating White Castle’s previous single-day sales record in a mere half-day for the Las Vegas store opening January 27.
Due to the overwhelming customer demand, White Castle, located inside the Best Western Casino Royale – arguably the smallest casino on the Strip – was forced to temporarily shutter their doors for nearly three hours on January 28, 2015, not for running out of food mind you, but rather, as some say, to take time to maintain their slider machinery that apparently could not take the exceedingly high volume anymore. Their employees didn’t complain either.
Was it a case of the extreme munchies? Undoubtedly. After all, it took 94 years for the White Castle folks to decide to move to Las Vegas, since first opening their doors in 1921.
Starting business when their slider was priced at just a quarter, and priding itself on continually offering its customers distinctive taste and affordability, and being open 24/7, now White Castle boasts nearly 400 restaurants in 13 states – especially prominent in the Midwest and East – and feature a leading national presence in grocery stores through its retail division.
And for those culinarians wanting palette “spritzers,” they suggest their hot and tasty side items like onion chips, cheese sticks and chicken rings. Mmmm!
Employee loyalty and longevity, a rare commodity in today’s workplace, is commonplace for the family-owned White Castle restaurants. In fact, more than 1 out of 4 of their 10,000 employees has been working for them for 10 years or more.
People galore have persistently – and ravenously – been hounding White Castle executives literally for decades to open a store in Las Vegas.
And so it came to pass, Las Vegas has eagerly opened with a lip-smacking bang their first White Castle restaurant, bringing with it over 100 new jobs – and the distinction of being the very first one located in the Western states, some 1,265 miles away from their next closest location in Columbia, Missouri.
The Crave is a very powerful thing.
Life is Beautiful- Very, Very Beautiful!
Stevie Wonder, 65, hits all the right notes for his many loyal fans, headlining the jam-packed opening night of the Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas on September 25, 2015. Wonder has received 25 Grammy Awards, the most ever awarded to a male solo artist, and has sold over 100 million albums and singles, earning him the distinction of being one of the top 60 best-selling music artists of all time.
Attending last night’s opening celebration at the third annual Life is Beautiful festival in downtown Las Vegas, admittedly I was a tad bit skeptical, thinking it might be more hype and hoopla than substance, and could be a more suitable event for youth than adults, but instead I came away quite awe-struck and inspired—not an easy thing to pull off.
With nearly 90,000 festival goers anticipated over the September 25-27 weekend, the festival is bigger and more colossal than in the past, spread out over 15 cordoned off Las Vegas blocks, with an enduring emphasis on providing the best of music, food, art and learning.
The Life is Beautiful festival has put together one of the most diverse musical lineups you’re likely to find anywhere on four striking stages, providing rock, rap, reggae, electronic, indie and world music genres. This year’s headliners included the legendary Stevie Wonder on opening night, followed with an encore in later nights with the nationally popular Las Vegas-based rockers, Imagine Dragons and hip-hop superstar sensation Kendrick Lamar, as well as Duran Duran, Kendrick Lamar, Weezer and Brandon Flowers and nearly 70 other scintillating musical acts.
But the festival is much more than just an all day music marathon love-in. The Learning Series, for example, resembles the Las Vegas version of TED Talks, where many impassioned speakers give presentations about creating a better world, shaping the future and challenging the game of life. The wide-ranging specialists on Friday included Bill Nye (the science guy), Zappo’s Tony Hsieh and Jon Rose. On Saturday, entrepreneurs, innovators and champions of the industry, including Jeff Hoffman, Lane Wood, Melody McCloskey are on the entertainment bill. Then on Sunday, underdogs, athletes and those with humble beginnings were the focus. Actors Kat Graham and Rosario Dawson and more, spoke about their experiences in overcoming life’s many adversities, and how we can come together to “change the game.”
After walking and joyfully taking in the welcomed sensory overload, my attention quickly turned to food and drink options. Life Is Beautiful delivered- and in grand and impressive fashion. Sure, the staple traditions of hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza and beer existed, with oodles of tasty and unique food trucks, but for the more refined palette, some of the best celebrity chefs around, including Hubert Keller, Kim Canteenwalla, Elizabeth Blau, Sam Marvin and more were on-hand to give attendees live demonstrations and tastings of their latest culinary creations. Then, washing it down in grand style, mixolgists galore to whipped up some beautiful cocktails, and more craft beer than I have seen in any other Las Vegas music festival.
But what I fondly took away from the festival is the truly full-sensory, all-encompassing experience. It wasn’t just one element; rather it was the full-bodied synergy of the eclectic combination.
To that end, the interactive commissioned art installations truly added to the entertainment aura, providing the “glue” to fuse the many festival elements in an elegantly urban fashion. Visionary street artists like Banksy and D*Face, for example, have put in some large-scale murals on the side of downtown buildings where all you could do is just stare at their works in utter amazement. And the art hotel, where local artists took a building that was condemned and turned it into an unbelievable art show case, exquisitely showed their individuality, diversity and finely honed artistic skills on par with best artists around. And the great thing for Las Vegas: All art installations will remain up for a full year after the festival closes.
And for those people who may still feel that Las Vegas art and culture outside the bright lights of the strip boundaries is a challenging proposition, they need to really consider attending to see and embrace the Las Vegas urban landscape from a fresh perspective.
Embrace Las Vegas. Life is …delicately beautiful!
Snoop Dogg to Sniff Out Running ‘Hounds’ in Las Vegas
The air is always rarer in Sin City. But when the vibe and energy of Snoop Dogg is added to the sizzling mix, the “smoke” never clears!
Dogg will headline the biggest running event in the U.S. on November 13, 2016, when 40,000 marathon, half-marathon, 5K, and 10K runners of all levels from 50 states and 64 countries will compete for ‘top dog’ honors in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon- running smack-dab down the center of the fabled Strip in Las Vegas, Nevada– BEFORE the races even start!
And Dogg isn’t the half of it. Added to the musicians and DJs lining the course, it’ll surely be paparazzi heaven, as celebrities, big-name athletes, and other notables with running prominent in their DNA, likely to join in, such as Pamela Anderson, Will Ferrell, Heidi Klum, Ellie Goulding, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Feuerstein, Reese Witherspoon, and Sean Payton.
Some people will even take the grand opportunity to tie (or re-tie) the knot during the race, being flanked by running Elvis attendants wearing white spandex outfits.
World Championship Red Bull Air Race Spins Through Las Vegas
Undaunted by persistent 50 mile per hour winds and an overcast day, the finest racing pilots in the world finally took to the Las Vegas skies on the afternoon of October 16, 2016 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the final Red Bull world championship air race of the season.
Pilots raced 80 feet off the ground at over 250 miles per hour and pulled a 10 g-force while navigating around the track through a series of air-inflated cones- barely the width of their wingspan.
Toughest Mountain Biking Competition in the World
Red Bull Rampage, recognized by bike racing experts as the toughest mountain biking competition in the world, was held near Zion National Park in Virgin, Utah, on Oct. 14, 2016.
Only 21 of the best freeride mountain bikers on the planet participated in this invite-only event.
Riders spent a week prior to the event working with their teams to dig and scrape course “lines” on the steep and jagged cliffs, some nearly 5,000 feet high.
Riders were judged on their technical riding ability and the complexity of bike tricks performed.
Hell-Raising and Religion DO Mix…Splendidly!
Florida Georgia Line headlines on opening night of the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas on Oct. 4, 2015, proving they indeed have all the right country music mojo- no matter what you call their style of music.
The mix-and-match morphing of country music continues to go on at astounding rates. Sometimes, quite frankly, it’s difficult to really discern exactly what the real music genre is without attending a country music branded event.
Such is the case with the Florida Georgia Line. Tyler Hubbard, 27, and Brian Kelley, 29, and their highly talented band have quickly catapulted themselves into the “bro country” darlings of the country music sphere, not for their traditional renditions on country life mind you, but rather for their relentless party anthem style, where every Saturday Southern night is just another opportunity to create a rambunctious, rowdy experience topping the last one. And in so doing, they are building on an unmistakingly distinctive brand rife with their special concoction of country/hip-hop flair.
And headlining the first night at country music’s Route 91 Harvest Festival on Friday at MGM Resorts Village in Las Vegas proved to be no exception. With the clapping accompaniment of nearly 25,000 fervid fans cheering them on, they didn’t disappoint. Every beat of every measure was a very special heart-pounding and foot-stomping experience, captivating and launching the audience into an ever higher frenzied maelstrom.
It’s really not surprising, though. Their special brand of music magic accompanies them everywhere they go. The pair’s first full-length, Here’s to the Good Times, was the sixth-best-selling album of 2013 (topping Drake and Katy Perry, among others) and its momentum carried into 2014, when it was the 10th best-seller in the year’s first half, according to Nielsen SoundScan. And we can’t forget that the duo’s first four singles went to No. 1 on the Country Airplay Chart, and the two that followed hit the No. 1 spot on Hot Country Songs. And Florida Georgia Line’s signature, career-making hit, “Cruise,” still holds two major distinctions: It’s the best-selling country digital song of all time, with sales surpassing 7 million, and, if that is not enough, it spent 24 weeks at No. 1 on Hot Country Songs (the longest reign in the history of the chart).
But despite their professional partier mystique that persistently (and accurately) lingers on, it’s also true that their God-fearing attitudes and practices have steadfastly carried with them from their youth. In fact, at church worship services is where Hubbard and Kelley were first inspired and discovered their love of music and performing. Nearly every chance they got they participated in a wide range of church activities and loved Christian rock ‘n’ roll music.
And to this day, Florida Georgia Line can party with the best of them on Saturday night, but then reflect and practice penitence and redemption on Sunday. That’s just the makeup of the Florida Georgia Line.
With an impressive country music star lineup too large to count, today Keith Urban headlines and Tim McGraw follows on Sunday.
The event is so popular that Route 91 announced a three-day sell-out even before the gates first opened on Friday. No single-day tickets were sold, only three-day wristbands.