Bite This Now: The Itsy Bitsy Sushi Burrito

We're on a roll with the Itsy Bitsy: Ramen and Whisky sushi burrito, part of the summer seasonal menu. Filled with spicy tuna, fresh greens, cucumber, carrots, spicy mayo sauce, white rice, double-wrapped in a layer of soy and nori paper, and served with a side of cucumber salad, there's nothing "itsy" about this burrito. For the meat lovers out there, Itsy also offers a grilled beef version that's equally tasty. Featuring a rotating selection of fillings, the sushi burrito is perfectly priced at $9-12, and available daily. 

Itsy Bitsy: Ramen and Whisky
150 Las Vegas Blvd. N., Suite 100
Las Vegas, NV 89101

Downtown Denizen - Joe Vergara

Joe Vergara
Founder, ChillSpot by SasaSweets and Stoned N Baked

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I would say that I’m a total nerd but most people already know that. There are two things that most people don’t know about me: If I weren’t doing what I’m doing today, I would be running an aquaponic farm in Asia. Also, I’m an outstanding shot. Rubber bands, arrows, BB guns, and more. You name it, I can shoot it.

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
If I won $100 million, I would invest in my non-profit idea. In an attempt to curb corruption in third world countries, I feel that it’s important to give people access to their own food. I would create a village made of prefabricated housing, which would revolve around a central aquaponic farm. We would have fish, grow produce, and use the energy created to help provide temperature control.

If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would it be?
The Philippines. I love traveling throughout Asia but I specifically enjoy discovering the Philippines. It has such a mishmash of different cultures and is so different from the surrounding countries. The Philippines consist of very diverse ethnic groups, which I really appreciate. 

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?
Coming to the realization and accepting that no one is more in control of my destiny than I am. Once I realized that the universe owes me nothing, I was able to figure out that I can accomplish anything I want, but I need to go out and make it happen.

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
I would like to be a primary school teacher. The earlier you begin a good education, the better foundation you build and the better potential that child has. I’d also make it a point to teach a class on being a good person. 

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
My first job was with a printing press for the American Dental Association. I also worked at Baskin-Robbins, Häagan-Dazs, in both men’s and women’s retail, and for a period of time, I was a volunteer for UNICEF in Korea. I spent some time at DePaul University teaching an English as a second language program, I’ve been a consultant for a variety of organizations, and my last gig, before starting my own businesses, was in corporate IT.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
“To hell with opportunity, I create opportunity.” –Bruce Lee

What motivates you to work hard?
I don’t think I have an answer because I don’t think I know of any other way to exist. No one else will do it for me. I often think about how I want to be remembered when my obituary is read aloud. I work hard because I want my legacy to say I did.

What was the last concert you attended?
It’s been a very long time. Not counting Life Is Beautiful since I’m here more for work, it has been so long I can honestly say I don’t remember. I think it might have been Sisters of Mercy with Public Enemy - it was that long ago.

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
The universe owes you nothing. I wouldn’t have had to wait until I was older to figure that out.

What is your favorite book to read or favorite movie to watch?
My favorite move is Blade Runner simply because it is about the ultimate questioning of what defines life in a being. As we move forward with developments in artificial intelligence, those are going to be very relevant questions.

What is one thing on your bucket list that you have already done or have plans to do?
To disrupt the structures that allow the corruption to exist in third world countries. It’s a lofty dream but it is something I think about everyday. If anyone in the downtown community wants to brainstorm, stop by and we’ll chat.

What do you love most about Las Vegas?
I love that the places that constantly reinvent themselves give their residents the ability to also reinvent themselves. I feel that it’s the most American city in all of the United States. If you look at Vegas from afar, you see sin, vice, sex, money, and all negative stereotypes of the U.S. But when you take a closer look, there are no natural resources, no real reason to exist and the only reason it exists is the sheer will and determination of its citizens to make it work every single day. I don’t think there is anything more American than taking something that most people think is absurd and making it work and making it a success. That is America.

 

Downtown Denizen - Bill Kennedy

Bill Kennedy
Nightlife Marketing, Downtown Project

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I’m a diehard music aficionado and a complete rock and roll junkie. I love all genres of music. Especially underground music. When I was in New York, I was throwing parties (raves) and at the same time I was singing for a hard-core punk band.  

What was your favorite subject in school?
Without a doubt, my favorite subject was (and still is) history. I’m a history buff, and I am happy to challenge anyone to a trivia competition during our weekly Geeks Who Drink at Gold Spike on Wednesdays.  

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
If I had to choose something, I’d buy or build an amusement park and live the rest of my days happily selling candy apples, corn-dogs and riding bumper cars. I’d be a modern new age Walt Disney.  

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?    
I’m most proud of the fact that I moved to Las Vegas and stayed here for as long as I have. I grew up in Upstate New York (Albany) where many people seem to get stuck and never leave. Many people said that I’d be back but I’ve been in Las Vegas almost ten years and am still going strong. I’ll always look back fondly on my days in New York but I’m going to continue to look forward and enjoy my life here.

If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
Vince Vaughn would be the logical choice since I get comments every weekend about how I look just like him. I’ve been hearing that for years from random people in random places. My personal request would be Christopher Walken. I’m a huge fan. I like people who are different and quirky.

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
My first job was bagging groceries, pushing shopping carts, and working in the bottle deposit room at a local super market. I would eventually land a teenagers dream job working for Trans World Music in one of their record stores. I stayed there for five years and loved it. There were a few other jobs in between then and now but I was very fortunate and blessed that I stumbled into the nightlife scene when I was in college.  I’ve been doing this for 18 years and have enjoyed every minute of it.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
“Never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations,” Dr. Mae Jemison

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
I’d like to be a train conductor.  I’ve always been fascinated by trains and railroads.  My father was a train lover and passed that on to me as a kid. We used to squash pennies on the train tracks. I have this romantic vision of what it would be like to run along the side of a train, hop in the car, and end up somewhere new in the morning.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush? 
There were many but the top four were: Soleil Moon Frye who played Punky Brewster, Danica McKellar who played Winnie Cooper, Alyssa Milano who was Sam on Who’s The Boss, and Tiffani-Amber Thiessen from Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210.

What is your favorite move of all time?
I love movies from the '70s and '80s, but my favorite is the cult classic, The Warriors.

Of the concerts that you have attended, what are some of your favorites?
I’ve seen many great concerts, but some of the best have been Social Distortion, Pennywise, Guns N’ Roses, Motely Crue, and Iron Maiden.  

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
Just slow down and relax. You grow up really fast so enjoy this time. I’d also tell myself these three things: No. 1, learn computer programming; No. 2, learn to speak Mandarin; No. 3, learn how to be a DJ.  Everyone loves the DJ.

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
The sky is the limit. DTLV is a canvas and there is still so much more that we can add to this ever-changing picture.

Is there anything that you have left to do on your bucket list?
I am not really the kind of person who would wait to do things until I’m about to die. I’ve always lived life to its fullest and I’ve done most things that would be on my bucket list. I would like to travel more though. I’ve done some traveling, but I want to see the world, indulge on good food and drink, and experience as much as I can while I am still here. 

Downtown Denizen - Daniel Park

Daniel Park
Singer/Songwriter, Daniel Park Music

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
My parents adopted my four siblings and me from South Korea when I was almost five years old.

What was your favorite subject in school?
My favorite classes were always those where you could be hands on. I studied electrical engineering and worked in that field for a few years. When I was young I would take things like dishwashers apart just to see how they were made.

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
I might create something like a music venue, record label, or management company that could help artists find their path.

If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
I wouldn’t want to choose just one place but if I had to, I would choose the islands of Thailand. Mexico would definitely be my second choice.

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?
Quitting my job to become a full time musician in January of 2010. It was really scary but I’m so glad I took that step.

If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
It would have to be Jackie Chan. He could just make funny jokes all the time - like really corny dad jokes. That would reflect me really well. I would want him to do some roundhouse kicks for no reason throughout the movie. Come to think of it, we could make this movie with that $100 million that I am going to win.

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
I would be a sea captain just so that I could talk like a pirate and sing sea songs. The songs would make up the soundtrack to the movie where Jackie Chan plays me.

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
I feel like it’s a neo-6th Street in Austin, Texas, from the musical perspective. I would love to see live musicians on the streets everywhere jamming out at different venues. There would be non-musicians walking around thinking that this is a place that they need to check out. It would be the place to be.   

What is your favorite book to read or favorite movie to watch? 
Slight Edge by Jeff Olson. I get something different from it every time I read it. The idea is that there are ways to make small choices that will result in powerful results. It seems simple to me and I have actually used it. Over the years I taught myself to memorize one new song per week. It started small with one song at a time and now I have an amazing inventory of songs memorized.

What is your favorite downtown venue?
I really like PublicUs. You’ll find me there a few times a week drinking their coffee and getting work done.

What is one thing on your bucket list that you have already done or have plans to do? 
I would like to see all seven Wonders of the World. I’ve already seen Machu Picchu and the Colosseum, and in about two weeks I will see Chichen Itza. 

What makes you happy?
Creating new opportunities for musicians. I love the feeling that I get when I’m able to help a musician discover something that they didn’t know existed. The jam sessions are a perfect example of that. I feel lucky to be able to invite people in the community to be part of something special and I enjoy seeing how excited they get when walking in for the first time.

What is the most fun experience you’ve had in DTLV?
The evening of my first visit to the Airstream Village. We had so much fun. There were many shots of Fernet, lots of beer, hotdogs, and music. We sat around the fire singing songs while I played the guitar until 4 am. While I don’t remember the whole night, I remember it being amazing and one of the coolest nights ever. I came for a meeting and never left.

 

 

Downtown Denizen - Melissa Black

Melissa Black
Owner and Operator, Bombshell

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
Back in the mid-nineties I fought in the ring for prize money. Actually, it wasn’t just for money. I won $100 and a bottle of Patron. 

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
I would buy an island. Of course, I would make sure it was equipped with running water and all of the necessities. I’d like something like Necker Island.

If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
Any of the Hawaiian islands. I like Maui a lot but I’d like to choose all of them if that’s ok.

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?
I have been sober for nine years. I’m proud of my kids as well but I wouldn’t have everything that I have if I weren’t sober, so I’m very proud of that.

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
I tried my hand at being a pizza delivery girl, a runner for an attorney, a VIP host to celebrities in Utah, and so much more. I spent most of my time in restaurants bartending, waiting tables, and for a while I was in training to be a sommelier. I liked waiting tables the most since I love talking to people. I also worked for MAC cosmetics inside of Nordstrom’s. I loved the training that I got there.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
Because of my recovery, I truly live by the saying/motto: “One day at a time.” While we should all be be forward thinking, we really need to live in the moment. That’s how I live my life. 

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
I think I’d like to be an event planner for the White House. I’d imagine that it would be an extremely interesting job.

What motivates you to work hard? 
Seeing results. I’m really motivated when I see a client leave the salon feeling like a totally different person than when they arrived. Helping people feel beautiful and feel good about themselves is a great motivator.

What was the last concert you attended?
Duran Duran at Life Is Beautiful. They were the whole reason I purchased tickets to the festival. My next concert is Pearl Jam and I am more than excited to see them.  

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
Don’t worry about what people think! I think all 10-year-olds need that advice.

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
It looks sparkling to me – dazzling. Especially with our new sign on Las Vegas Boulevard.

What is your favorite book to read or favorite movie to watch? 
High Fidelity is my favorite movie and my favorite book is The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. That’s a great book to just pick up and read anytime.

What is one thing on your bucket list that you have already done or have plans to do? 
I have a few places that I’d like to visit. I’d like to hike Machu Picchu and visit Japan, China, and Marbella. I also want to learn how to speak fluent Spanish. 

Downtown Denizen - Brian "Paco" Alvarez

Brian “Paco” Alvarez
Art Curator, Corporate Historian, and Z'Boutique Buyer, Zappos

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
Surprisingly, that I was born and raised in Las Vegas.

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
I actually wouldn't buy anything. I would divide the money into four separate trusts in the name of my family – “The Alvarez-Novau Family Trusts.” One trust would go to supporting my parents and me financially until we die, after our deaths the remaining balance would be separated equally into the remaining trusts. The second trust would go to UNLV as a scholarship program for students interested in pursuing careers in Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Art. The third trust would go to supporting UNLV Special Collections and their repository of historic archives. The fourth trust would go to supporting arts based organizations in Las Vegas. 

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?
My career in the cultural arts. There is nothing more rewarding then dedicating your life to enriching a community through the arts.

If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
Matthew Broderick.

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
I have been a brick layer, food & beverage cashier, registrar of collections at the Liberace Museum, interim curator of the Neon Museum and a curator of the Las Vegas News Bureau Photo and Film Archives.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
“There is a tuition to be paid for the degree of experience in the university of life.”

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
I would like to be the secretary general of the United Nations.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush? 
Mark Paul Gosselaar – Zack from Saved by the Bell.

What motivates you to work hard? 
Knowing that I am a leaving a legacy for the children of the world.

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
Be who you were meant to be and you shall set the world on fire.

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
Though I have been visiting Downtown since 1994, I didn't move into the neighborhood until 2005 just when things were beginning to grow. Witnessing the changes over the past 20 years, I can only say that the future is bright for Downtown Las Vegas. 

What is your favorite book to read or favorite movie to watch? 
My favorite book is The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes. My favorite movie is 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda

What is one thing on your bucket list that you have already done or have plans to do? 
One thing that I have yet to do is visit Antarctica. 

Downtown Denizen - Megan Jones

Megan Jones
General Manager, Itsy Bitsy Ramen and Whiskey

 If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
Trust in yourself and be honorable.

If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would it be?
I haven't found it yet. I am drawn to the mountains and the ocean so if I can find someplace where I can ski all day long and then relax on the beach with a cocktail in the evening that would be ideal.

What was the last concert you attended?
I'm fortunate to have very talented musicians for friends so I am out most nights seeing my friends perform around town. On any given night you can find me watching Daniel Park, Rein Garcia, Josh Royse, Naked Elephant, Stoked, Matt Morgan, and many others playing everywhere from Gold Spike to Container Park, to Bellagio. It's fun to always have something cool to do around Las Vegas. The last "actual" concert I attended was OAR. I have been a long time fan and had the opportunity to see them live last summer. I will definitely take that opportunity again if it comes around – they put on an amazing show.

What is one thing on your bucket list that you have already done or have plans to do?
Two things I had on my to-do list last year that I wasn't able to get to were surfing and getting SCUBA certified. I grew up in the water and have never surfed or gone SCUBA diving so I'm excited to give them both a try. I have three friends that have said they will take me surfing and I have found a SCUBA instructor that is willing to work with my crazy schedule, so both are on the docket for 2016.

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
I would teach cooking classes. I feel that home cooking is the one skill that can ensure quality of life and well-being and I think that it’s a skill that is slowly being lost. It’s important to teach people basic dietary knowledge and how to prepare a well-rounded meal. 

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
I see the sense of community and energy continuing to grow.

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
The first thing I would do if I won $100 million dollars is secure a college education for my best friend’s daughter. After that I would track down and purchase the cars and boats my father spent years restoring and ensure the security of my family. When that was taken care of I would charter a jet and throw a party on a remote island. All of my friends are invited and they could come for as long as they wanted. When I was tired of partying on the island, I would evaluate how much money I had left and make a plan.

Which song would you choose for karaoke?
It takes a lot of gin to get me up to sing karaoke. Once I get to the point that I have a microphone in-hand, the song choice doesn't matter much.

What is something about you that most people don¹t know?
I swam competitively for 14 years, starting when I was four and continuing through high school.  Swimming is still my exercise of choice. My friends will tell you, if there is a body of water close by, I'm in it. I don't go anywhere without a bathing suit.  

 What motivates you to work hard?
I take a lot of pride in my work so truthfully it's seeing guests leave with smiles on their faces. I love knowing that our staff have done a great job and made someone's experience a great one. 

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?
Graduating culinary school and gaining a job with the Ritz-Carlton.

Downtown Denizen - Kristine Reynolds

Kristine Reynolds
Assistant General Manager, Gold Spike

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I was a dancer and stilt walker at Universal Studios in Florida. 

What was your favorite subject in school?
I had two favorites, choir and drama. I’m sure that doesn’t shock too many people.

If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, which place would you chose? 
I would want to vacation somewhere by the beach. Maybe Tahiti in one of the villas over the water.

If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
Kristin Kreuk or Jamie Chung. They always play the super cool heroines so, of course, they embody all of my best qualities.

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
I was an office aide in the Navy. I’m a certified veterinarian’s assistant and did that for a while. I have also been a bartender, cocktail server, and theme park performer. I also like to think that, as a young girl, I was an entrepreneur. I made cookies for my neighbors during the holidays in order to make Christmas money. 

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
I always wanted to be the scuba diver at Epcot in the Living Seas Pavilion. I don’t know that I could actually do that though since the one time I tried to scuba, I completely freaked out. I would also like to be a Global Rallycross driver. 

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Joey McIntire from New Kids On The Block. Don’t judge

What was the last concert you attended?
Life Is Beautiful. One of my favorite memories of the festival was watching Duran Duran while on the Ferris wheel.

What is your favorite downtown venue?
Gold Spike, of course. When I’m not there, I find that I spend most of my time at either Inspire or Itsy Bitsy

What is one thing on your bucket list that you have already done or have plans to do?
My ultimate bucket list item is to take an eco tour of the Galapagos Islands. I also want to visit Japan again. I currently have plans to visit Japan next year as long as I can get the time off.  

Downtown Denizen - Sean McDonald

Sean McDonald
Director of Marketing, Downtown Project

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I was an All Ivy League pitcher at the University of Pennsylvania and threw a no-hitter versus Cornell in the late '90s.

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
In an alternate universe, I think I’d be a history teacher and baseball coach. My mother was a teacher (at the same elementary school I attended) and I was blessed to have a number of great teachers/professors/coaches who have played significant roles in my life. 

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
I was a graveyard forklift operator/truck loader at a Coca-Cola warehouse in New Jersey during my summers off from college. Not only did this job give me a greater appreciation for hard physical labor but it also taught me many life lessons and the importance of an education.

After college in New York City, I reconnected unclaimed assets (stocks and brokerage accounts) with legal claimants. Through estate and genealogical research, I would identify the heirs or estate beneficiaries of these assets and contact them to let them know the situation. It was fun to be able to connect dots and find all the included parties but the first reaction I would always get was I must be a Nigerian Prince with this offer being too good to be true. 

I must say though that my current job is the one that’s most enthralling. 

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure … than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat"    

~Teddy Roosevelt.  

 Which song would you choose for karaoke? 
I love karaoke. One of my favorite things to do is to sing duets with my four-year-old daughter Chloe who is turning out to be a little ham. Our number one duet is the Annie song “Together At Last” though we have many others such as “Love is An Open Door” from Frozen.

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be? 
Don’t ever play cards with a man that has a city or state as his first name such as Minnesota Fats or Cheyenne Sam. You probably also want to steer clear of any women with tattoos of daggers on their right arm.

What is one of your favorite things to do Downtown?
I really enjoy following behind a group of people walking down the street and hearing them talk about how much Downtown has changed. I also enjoy watching kids play at Container Park and strollers come through the gates. It’s great to see the excitement on their faces, or even the faces of the adults when they look around the park. The gratification that comes along with seeing what we’re doing through other people’s eyes is immeasurable.  

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
The future of downtown will continue to be the spot for locals but we also want to continue to attract tourists and conventions to showcase all that has changed in a very small time. 

What is your favorite downtown venue?
My favorite place is the Dome at Container Park. I’ve spent the last year working to activate the space and at some point over next few weeks we hope to have it open to the public. The possibilities for the Dome are limitless and we have some really great things planned. I see it as the next great opportunity to bring both locals and tourists to Downtown.

Downtown Denizen - James Woodbridge

James Woodbridge
Cofounder, Neon Reverb

What is something about you that most people don't know?
I was in an a cappella group in college. We sang mostly Motown songs. Good times.

What was your favorite subject in school?
Unsurprisingly (considering my job as a philosophy professor at UNLV), it was philosophy.

If you had to choose one place to vacation for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
I'm going to go with New Zealand. I've been there twice; it's spectacular.

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?
Right now I'd have to say it's that, starting from just a DIY, grassroots effort, a small group of music-loving friends and I managed to make something as exciting as the Neon Reverb Music Festival happen in Downtown Las Vegas. It's coming back this weekend (March 10-13).

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
I've worked in a salmon fishery in Alaska. I worked (illegally, shhh) as a waiter in Sydney, Australia. I had a job in an independent bookstore in Ann Arbor, Mich. I worked as a lab tech at the Harvard School of Public Health. I've taught philosophy at seven different universities in five different cities.

If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
If I could magically have all the skills required, I'd like to be an astronaut for a day.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Linda Carter as Wonder Woman.

Which song would you choose for karaoke?
Do you mean which song DO I choose for karaoke? My go-to is Born To Run (Bruce Springsteen), but lately I've been having fun with Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie).

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
According to my mother, at the age of five, I wanted to be a college professor when I grew up (our neighbor was one). So I guess dreams do come true.

What was the last concert you attended?
Metric at Brooklyn Bowl. Absolutely great.

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
Now that things have settled down some (after perhaps a period of growing pains), I see a continuation of growth and development, including an expansion of the art and cultural scene.

What is your favorite downtown venue?
My favorite downtown *venue* is The Bunkhouse Saloon. But I'm also a big fan of Atomic Liquors, as downtown bars go.

What is one thing on your bucket list that you have already done or have plans to do?
I would like to hike up to the Machu Picchu site in Peru.

Downtown Denizen - Aaron Roberts

Aaron Roberts
Senior Manager of Accounting and Systems, Downtown Project

What was your favorite subject in school?
Math, of course.

Which of your accomplishments has made you most proud?
My dad and I spent several years rebuilding and restoring my first car, a 1968 Ford Mustang. We both learned as we went and when it was complete was something that made us both proud.

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
I started working when I was 14 so this could be a long and diverse list. My first job was a batboy and selling programs for the Las Vegas Stars (now the 51s). I worked for a bank and then an escrow company. I was the lead singer and guitar player of a band for several years (never got the job of rockstar though). I ran a small recording studio and was an audio tech for some local shows. I’ve been an automotive mechanic and I managed an automotive custom shop (remember Pimp My Ride? Yep, just like that). I now have the most exciting job anyone can have, I’m an accountant.

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
I have a few: “If you trust in yourself … and believe in your dreams … and follow your star … you’ll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren’t so lazy.” – Terry Prachett. Also: “Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.” – Theodore Roosevelt.  My favorite was something simple my dad would tell me every single morning, just four little words: “Be a good guy.”

Which song would you choose for karaoke?
Jump Around by House of Pain. It is the first song I ever knew all the words to, which would make it easier to karaoke.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be an architect (just like George Costanza).

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
Cherish the time you have with the people you love. Also, don’t be worried to mess up or embarrass yourself, it makes for much funnier stories later on.

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
A place so transformed and different that no one remembers how bad it once was.

What is your favorite book to read or favorite movie to watch?
The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday and The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker. 

What is your favorite downtown venue?
Any place with Mexican food. Pinches, La Comida, and Glutton (they have amazing Huevos Rancheros).

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Downtown Denizen - Justin Weniger

Justin Weniger
Cofounder WENDOH Media, CEO of Life is Beautiful

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I’m a closet hippy. I’ve been to close to 100 Phish concerts. Ryan Doherty introduced me to them in 2001 and it changed the way I thought of live performance completely. In 2004 they announced they were breaking up so we put together a crew, rented an RV in Rhode Island and drove up to Vermont for what were going to be their last shows. The roads were closed due to a massive rain storm, so we found a backcountry route and parked in the lot of an old church, set up camp, and walked through the knee-deep mud in the woods to the festival grounds to see the shows every day. They got back together a few years later. (We were there, too.)

What was your favorite subject in school?
Is football a subject? I really enjoyed that. Kidding aside, I loved logic courses. I wanted to take the LSAT just to see how I would do. 

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
I can think of so many things to do with $100 million. I would love to be able to provide opportunities for friends and family to experience their dreams. Or, I can think of a number of causes that could make a huge impact with a sizable donation. Oh, I could also make all Life Is Beautiful tickets free for everyone this year. 

If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would it be?
That’s almost impossible, but my first thought is Mammoth Lakes, California. Growing up, my brothers were professional snowboarders. They lived in Mammoth so I spent as much time as I could up there snowboarding, fishing, and mountain biking. I came to Las Vegas for college and then got busy starting the business right after that so didn’t get a chance to go back for six or seven years. I had the opportunity to get back there over the winter break, and it brought back so many incredible memories. It’s a tremendous escape.   

If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
I would like to think that it would be an epic drama and I would be played by Leonardo DiCaprio, but the way its shaping up it might end up being Ryan Reynolds or Daniel Tosh.

If you could be on any television show, which would you choose?  
Game of Thrones, obviously. Though it would likely be a short stint

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
I was a bag boy for a bit and I later worked at Kids Foot Locker. Never graduated to regular Foot Locker where you get to wear the real referee uniform. Got stuck with the baby blue stripes. Oh, I was also a stuntman. A good friend of my dad's was the original stunt driver for The Dukes of Hazzard. He got me into it. I got my Screen Actors Guild card by playing quarterback in a football scene in a Disney show. That opened a lot of doors for me. I actually worked on Rush Hour 2 here in Vegas when they imploded the Desert Inn hotel to make way for the Wynn. 

When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? 
When I was young, I wanted to be a marine biologist. That was, until I realized how much schooling you needed. I was an athlete growing up, so after realizing that marine biology wasn’t going to happen, I thought I would become a sports agent. Then I realized that I’d need a lot of school for that, too. After college (and hearing Phish) I became a huge fan of live experiences and music festivals. They became my escape from the norm. I feel like somewhere along the way, I might have manifested myself into the role I’m in now. It's truly a dream. 

Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
"Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you’re going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater then oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long run - in the long run, I say! - success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Love is (Still) All Around at Flippin' Good

By Andrea Harward

Valentine's Day has come and gone, but for those of us hoping to keep the love alive all month long Flippin' Good's chocolate cherry shake will continue to be available through the end of the month.

The Cupid's Special Milkshake starts with chocolate ice cream, blended with just the right amount of diced maraschino cherries, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. 

Tinted a soft shade of pink by the cherries swirled within, not too sweet, and packed full of chocolate flavor, this is one shake we wish would hang around all year long. 

Cupid's arrow struck us right in the stomach with this creation. Be on the lookout for the next limited-edition flavor that will surely make our mouths swoon and send us flippin' head over heels.

The Valentine's Shake is available through Monday, February 29 and offered in 16 ounces ($4.75) and 24 ounces ($6.75). 

Flippin' Good Burgers and Shakes
505 Fremont Street
Las Vegas, NV 89101

 

Downtown Denizen - John Curran

Name: John Curran
Real Estate Portfolio ManagerDowntown Project

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
A really sweet mountain bike, new skis and a cabin in the mountains. 

If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would you choose?
Park City, Utah. 

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
Urban planning or American history. 

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
Little league umpire, middle school math teacher, and pedicab driver/tour guide.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Kelly Kapowski from Saved by the Bell

Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Costco or Total Wine. 

What was the last great book you read? 
Blood Aces: The Wild Ride of Benny Binion, the Texas Gangster who Created Vegas Poker by Doug Swanson. 

The last concert you attended?
The Motet at Brooklyn Bowl. 

In one sentence, what does the future of Downtown Las Vegas look like to you?
Like a really great party you don't want to leave. 

What weapon would you carry during the Zombie Apocalypse? 
Cross-bow, duh. 

What is your favorite downtown venue?
Bunkhouse and Oak & Ivy

Downtown Denizen - Kassie Kay Baker

Kassie Kay Baker
Greeter, Downtown Rangers

What was your favorite subject in school? 
English. 

If you had just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would it be? 
Jamaica. It's the place of no worries.  

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first? 
I would buy my parents a new home. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Getting my surgical technology certificate.  

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life? 
I was a sports book ticket writer and a tanning consultant. 

What was the last concert you attended? 
Life is Beautiful

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be? 
Don’t stress so much over the little things.  

What weapon would you carry during the Zombie Apocalypse? 
A sphere.  

What is the first concert you attended? 
Smashing Pumpkins.  

If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you? 
Sandra Bullock

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Downtown Denizen - Lauren Medina

Lauren Medina
External Relations, Downtown Project

What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I refinish furniture on the weekends.

What was your favorite subject in school?
Statistics and orchestra. I know, I’m a total geek.

If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
A trip around the word for my friends and family with the goal of each one of us knocking an item off our bucket lists.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
My son.

What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
Tutor, Christmas decorator for hotels, front desk, food and beverage, and Scandia – that place was awesome.

Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Every member of New Kids on the Block.

What was the last concert you attended?
A Carlos Santana cover band – we were by far the youngest people in the crowd. 

If you could give one piece of advice to your 10-year-old self, what would it be?
Don’t get student loans.

What weapon would you carry during the Zombie Apocalypse?
Garlic – wait ... does garlic kill zombies?

If you could be on any TV show, what would it be?
Flea Market Flip.


Downtown Denizen - Taryn Vazquez

Taryn Vazquez
General Manager, Bin 702

What was your favorite subject in school?
Science, but not any of the sciences that were math-heavy (gross). I liked classes like geology and anatomy.
 
What is your go-to drink?
Beer. I love all styles – fruity, malty, yeasty, hoppy, bring it on.
 
Who was your childhood celebrity crush? 
Skeet Ulrich in Scream, and Paul Rudd in Clueless.
 
If you won $100 million, what would you do with it?
I’d buy a whole cul-de-sac of houses for all of my close friends and family to move into under the condition that they party with me all the time. After that, I’d open my own bar/restaurant.
 
What is your biggest pet peeve?
All of them – I’m a grump.
 
Which super power would you like to have?
The ability to fly. I really don’t like driving. Plus, I’d save a ton on airfare.
 
What is your favorite local band?
Leather Lungs. The guitarist is super easy on the eyes.
 
If you had to choose just one place to vacation every year for the rest of your life, where would it be?
France. My goal is to retire to the French countryside. I’m going to buy a big chunk of land and adopt a bunch of animals to hang out with, all while working on my dream home and eating a bunch of cheese (and wine, obviously).
 
What type of music do you like to listen to?
I listen to mostly new wave and post punk and my all-time favorite musician is David Bowie. My entire condo is decorated in miscellaneous Bowie things. It’s a borderline unhealthy obsession.
 
Do you believe in aliens?
Yes, of course. 

2016 may be the year of growth for Downtown Las Vegas

BY DENISE ROSCH THURSDAY, JANUARY 21ST 2016

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — A vacant old garage is the latest target of the downtown revitalization. This week, the Las Vegas City Council approved a special use permit for Atomic Kitchen to renovate an old garage; bringing more life to the neighborhood by spring. Click Here to Read Entire Story

Downtown Denizen - Keith Baker

Keith Baker    
Bartender, Oak & Ivy

 
If you won $100 million, what would you buy first?
A plane ticket on the first flight out. I’d like to go see the world for a little while. 
 
If someone were to make a movie about your life, who would you hope would play you?
Edward Norton. I get that I look like him and Christian Bale a lot, but Norton is the superior actor.
 
If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
I'd be the gym teacher that they let teach Social Studies on the side. 
 
What are some of the different jobs that you have had in your life?
Movie usher, carhop, and bread puller (I pulled the old bread to the front on store shelves, and put new bread behind it). Those are the three most interesting ones. 
 
Do you have a favorite quote or saying that inspires you?
"If it's not worth bare-knuckle boxing over, it's not worth being mad about." – Red Foreman from That ’70s Show. If only I followed this quote every day.
 
If you could try out any job for a day, what would you like to try?
Jet Pilot. I want to learn how to fly one day, and that's the best kind of flying. 
 
Who was your childhood celebrity crush? 
Jennifer Aniston. She still is. 
 
Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Stitched.  
 
Which Muppet is your favorite?
I like the old opera guys who make terrible jokes at the other characters. 
 
What was the last great movie you saw?
Creed. All the Rocky movies are awesome. 
 
The last concert you attended?
The Offspring. I try to go every time they come.
 
What weapon would you carry during the Zombie Apocalypse?
Crossbow. In a documentary I watched, it worked really well. 
 
What is your favorite downtown venue?
Atomic Liquors.  

Keith Baker

Keith Baker