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Mario Sandoval interview, December 6, 2018: transcript






Interviewed by Claytee White. Mario and his six siblings were reared by a single mother who taught him all of the family recipes. Moving to Las Vegas at four years of age Mario remembers moving into a black neighborhood where the family was not welcomed. All windows in their home were broken into the first night. The family moved the next day. Though the new house was still in an African American neighborhood, they were protected by Vera, their black babysitter. Mario developed the intense work ethic of his mother, and after working in several strip casinos, found his home at the Horseshoe, today's Binion's. He has been there for 33 years; first as a busboy and then becoming a waiter. He is a Culinary Union trained shop student who picketed his beloved work place for ten months during a 1980's labor dispute. His work in life and union benefits have made his a very good life.

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Sandoval, Mario Interview, 2018 December 6. OH-03526. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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i AN INTERVIEW WITH MARIO SANDOVAL An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ii ©Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2018 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV – University Libraries Director: Claytee D. White Project Manager: Barbara Tabach Transcribers: Kristin Hicks, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Nathalie Martinez, Rodrigo Vazquez, Elsa Lopez Editors and Project Assistants: Laurents Bañuelos-Benitez, Maribel Estrada Calderón, Monserrath Hernández, Elsa Lopez, Nathalie Martinez, Marcela Rodriquez-Campo, Rodrigo Vazquez iii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of a National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) Grant. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank University of Nevada Las Vegas for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews with permission of the narrator. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Latinx Voices of Southern Nevada. Claytee D. White Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas iv PREFACE Marion Sandoval was born in 1965 in Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. He explains that he was four years old when his mother entered the Braceros Program, the guest worker agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. Though she had documentation for herself, she was compelled to illegally bring her five sons into the U.S. His oral history weaves together his earliest memories of relocating to Las Vegas in the late 1960s. For the first two years, the family settled in the black neighborhood of the Westside and the children were looked after by Vera, a black woman. Vera who fondly cared for the children while Mario’s mother worked her maid job at the Hilton International. Like a series of dashes, Mario recalls the various schools he attended, and the several early jobs he held, until he began his over three-decade career at Top of Binion’s Steakhouse. He also talks about the importance of membership Culinary Union Local 226 and the inspiration of his mother to work hard. v TABLE OF CONTENTS Interview with Mario Sandoval December 6, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Claytee D. White Preface…………………………………………………………………………………………..iv Explains his full name is Mario Jesus Sandoval Isordi, goes by Mario Sandoval. Talks of birth place, Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico; mother received a work permit as a bracera in Chicago in 1960s; explains that work situation; moved to Las Vegas in 1968 for a maid job at the Hilton International and then illegally brought her children to the U.S. in 1969; steps taken to get passport for him and his four brothers; also has two sisters born in U.S.; marvels at his mother’s ability to raise her children despite lack of literacy; how she worked second jobs on weekends; cleaned Dr. Fitelynn’s offices with sons; her ingenuity and work ethic (she passed away in 1996).…………………………………………………………………………………………1 – 5 Talks about his first memories of Las Vegas, housing challenges, living on Westside, an African American babysitter named Vera who helped them rent a house and protected them in the neighborhood, attended C.V.T. Gilbert Elementary School. Two years later moved near Nellis Air Force Base; segregation at the time; attended several other schools over the years; did not graduate and was mentored by Dr. Lujan at Upward Bound, a UNLV sponsored program….6 – 9 Recalls his first jobs as a youth, work permit at age 12 and fulltime at age 16 as a dishwasher at Hilton hotel in Hofbrau restaurant; then at Sundance [now the D] a downtown hotel; mentions Al Sachs, Herb Tobman, looking older than his age. Next job is at Stardust as a busboy, celebrities he saw there; what working at Stardust was like and the day the IRS, FBI and ATF came in and shut the place down. Went to Mexico for six months after that; returned and work several of the classic Strip locations the subsequent period of time………………………..…………….10 – 13 Remembers starting at Binion’s on Dec. 19, 1985; challenges of employment during the holiday season, bouncing back and forth between Binion’s and Bally’s; then asking for “promises” vi before agreeing to and going back to work at Binion’s, where he has been ever since. Talks about the impact of the National Finals Rodeo on local business in December; mentions Benny Binion; and the Horseshoe; his three decades of working the Top of Binion’s Steakhouse, located on the 24th floor, current pricing of steaks and drinks there…………………………………….14 – 17 Talks about entertainment and lounge hopping at Fremont Street establishments in the 1970s-1990s; how downtown is changing in recent years; remembers cruising Fremont Street with his friends when young. Reminisces about his mom’s cooking, her tamales………………..18 – 19 Shares his Culinary Union memories since his job at the Sundance when he was 16 years old; 1990 picket line against Jack Binion and the Horseshoe and how it felt to participate; health insurance benefits importance; being a shop steward and the position’s significance; steps in a grievance……………………………………………………………………………..….20 – 26 Talks about living in Las Vegas; more about his mother, his youth, how traveling back and forth to Mexico has changed over the years; his thoughts about the future of downtown Las Vegas, Derek Stevens, East Fremont Street, Red Light District; more about Vera the babysitter from his earliest days here; closing thoughts……………………………………………………….26 – 32 vii 1 This is Claytee White. It is December 6, 2018, and I am here with Mario Sandoval. We are at the Culinary Union's location here in Las Vegas. How are you today, Mario? I'm good, thank you. And yourself? I'm wonderful. Mario, could you pronounce and spell your full name please? Mario Jesus Sandoval Isordi; that's my full name. Could you spell it? Mario, M-A-R-I-O. Sandoval, S-A-N-D-O-V-A-L. Jesus is just like Jesus, J-E-S-U-S. Isordia is I-S-O-R-D-I-A. Where are you from? I was born in Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico. Wonderful. You have brought something with you, which most people don't do. Explain to me about this passport. This photo right here is of my mother when she first got a permit to come work in the U.S. as a bracera to Chicago. Please tell me what a bracero is. Most of us don't even know. It was a contract worker to the factories at the time in Chicago, so she was working out there. It's where my mom's maiden name changed to De la Torre because she got married in Chicago. She never spoke of it much because she ended up getting divorced a few years after. She had a little girl, my sister. From what I understand—I never got the full story because she never spoke of it—but I understand he was a Korean War veteran. But she stayed out there working even though...up until 1968, actually. 2 Tell me what she told you about the bracero program. The bracero program was contract workers from Mexico that had a legal permit to work in the United States. I don't know the technical names of them, but they had names to those people that had a visa or—I don't even think it was a visa—like a work program card. She took advantage of that because financially it was better for her to make money here in the U.S. That was the outcome of that. She did live in Mexico, in Juárez with us there. Tell me about the resident alien card. This was later on. This photo was probably taken about—the cards were five-year increments. That expired in '91, so it had to '86 maybe that it was taken. I think it expired in 2001. Oh, no, no, I'm sorry, 2001. I thought it was '91. You're right. It was five years, so it had to have been in '96, maybe. I think that's right because I have another card that expired in '96. That's the follow-up. Yes, that was the follow-up. And the passport? The passport here, this is from 1977. My mom already was here as a legal resident. She had already went back to Mexico. But in '68-69, she came to Las Vegas. She got a job at the International, which is with Hilton, and now it's Westgate. She worked here to get on her feet and get a job. She got a maid job, a good-paying job at the time. With time, as soon as she got on her feet, she went back and got all of us, September 29th, 1969, and she brought us all here. Unfortunately, she brought us all here illegally. I can understand what the DACA and Dreamers are going through now because I didn't know. I was just going to another place to live to me. I didn't know nothing about what was going on. Not even ten years later...This was the first step to 3 getting our resident alien cards. It had to be through a passport, how you would get permission to travel. We got permission to travel because at that time there was no Mexican consulate here at all. You had to go to San Bernardino or El Paso. This picture was taken in San Bernardino. Tell me who is in that picture. Those are my five brothers. Give me their names. My oldest brother is Reyes Sandoval. Then Heberisto Sandoval. You might get the spellings here. I think all the names were right here. Fantastic. I did not realize that more than one person could be on a passport. I believe at that time if you were minors under eighteen, it was allowable. Don't quote me on that but I think that's the reason for it. When your mother came to Las Vegas, who did she know in Las Vegas? She had a group of friends that I didn't know well, but they were like coworkers. First of all, my mom was illiterate; she didn't know how to read or write. How she did things is beyond me because she left my father in '69 because he was an alcoholic. She gave him the ultimatum (to) quit drinking, but it didn't work. So she went over, got us, and came to Las Vegas. As a single woman, I don't know how she did it, five kids, five boys. She is a superwoman. Yes. What's missing in that photo is my two older sisters. Where were they? They were born U.S. citizens. When she was in Chicago. Chicago. We were all born in Juárez. This was a life before us. I wasn't privileged to hear a lot of 4 that and that was unfortunate. I really wish...Probably the only kind of information I would get is through her Social Security number and her work history. But I know that she was a bacera; that part she did tell me about. Tell me what it was like for her that first job in the hotel. What did she tell you about that job? To me it was like a big story because the “King” [Elvis Presley] was still alive and she would tell me that she cleaned his room. How much truth there was to that I don't know. I loved it, though. Yes. He lived there for a long time. Yes. My mom worked the International and the Hilton until she actually got sick in '79 and she stopped working about that time. But she would tell us stories about seeing the “king," getting a flower and a kiss from him. That was like, wow. I was a kid and it was like, wow, really, really. She would always sneak us food from the employee dining room and bring it home to us. We never went out much to go eat. Anything that was brought from outside was a treat. Man, I don't know. My mother, she just amazes me how she did it being illiterate. I remember being seven, eight years old, going to the grocery store, she would ask me, "Come here. Read this for me. What's it say?" She did pick up the knack for money, though, counting money; she was real good at it. But the reading part she could never get down. How did she feel about education for her children? Oh my god, she would get so mad if we would not go to school. It was something tremendous. Honestly, anything I did wrong I was terrified to tell my mom, not because she would spank me, because she would just be disappointed, really. It was something else. But she always told us to get an education. She knew what a GED was, believe it or not. She goes, "If you're not going to get a GED, go to work." 5 Her work ethic was incredible because my mom worked as a maid during the daytime. During the summer I would go with her to offices to clean in addition to her job. Was it her own business? No, no. The family doctor at that time was Dr. Fitelynn. I'll never forget that name, Dr. Fitelynn, because I went so many times to his office on the weekends when it was closed to clean the office. That's what she did on the weekend. Sometimes she would actually go after her working hours as a maid because she had the keys. She would go and clean it up for the doctor. Every time I could, I would go with her. I would be the guy to collect the garbage cans in the rooms. Like I said, I don't know how she did it. She was a close friend with—he was a judge here in North Las Vegas long ago. Gates? No, no. He had nurseries. Plant nurseries? It was one of the first nurseries here in Las Vegas. What was it? I'll never forget he had one main office, but he had—one, two, three—four other little locations where he would hold trees. My mom would actually in the morning get up early and go water the plants, not the main one, but the other nurseries. All of us would go with her to water the plants. They were the trees that were in the cases, big trees. They were big ones, little ones that would be lined up. We would just go water them down. Did your mom drive? My mom did not drive. She never got her driver's license. How do you go to all those locations? I'm telling you I don't know how she did it. But I remember everything she did, she did it. 6 She rode the buses? She always managed to get a ride. She would pay somebody to take her. I'm telling you...To this day I think that's where I get my work ethic because I've been working with her and I started working full-time almost since I was sixteen. I'm fifty-four and I've been a union member over thirty-four years. It's been wonderful. When I lost my mom in '96, I remember telling my wife that I lost the other woman in my life. Tell me about your first memory of a place that you lived here in Las Vegas, the family lived. I don't know if you want to put this down, but I can tell you when we came here. When we got here, we stayed from place to place, people's houses. My mom was going to the Housing Authority because housing was kind of big at that time here, in '69. She got us a place. It was on Carey and—it's Martin Luther King now, but it was called something else. Highland? I think it was Highland. It was a very violent place. We get the keys. All we had was mattresses to put on the floors. The first night, it's later on in the evening; it's dark. Every window in the house got broken. From the outside. From the outside. Were you in an African-American neighborhood? Yes. You were near the Westside. Yes. There was a name for that area; I just can't remember. There are things I can't remember and sometimes it will come to me. We were gone the next day because obviously... 7 Were you in one of the federal housing complexes, like Marble Manor or one of those others like that? Yes, it was. As a matter of fact, we were facing Highland on Carey; it was on that side. I can't remember the name of the complex. It was a notorious name for a lot of people. [Gerson Park?] What kind of criminal activities were going on in that neighborhood at that time? They just didn't want us there. We were Latin. You think it had to do with race and you're probably right. I know we weren't wanted. What did they say to you to make you think you weren't wanted? Breaking the windows was enough for us. We were gone the next day. How did your mom find another place? Believe it or not, we had a babysitter already, a nanny; her name was Vera and she was African American. I'll never forget her, Vera. Not two blocks, maybe three blocks, not far from that same area, Vera found us a house and we rented it. She talked to the whole neighborhood for us. We moved into that house and she was always there protecting us. "Hey, they're good people. Leave them alone." We stayed there. We must have stayed there close to two years, maybe. Where did you go to school? I went to kindergarten at C.V.T. Gilbert. That's where your brothers and sisters were going as well? Yes. I started C.V.T. Gilbert. I came here when I was three. We used to walk across the desert from that house to C.V.T. Gilbert. But then as I was going to school there, we moved because we were only there two years. I started there and we moved. Where was your second house? 8 This is the ironic thing. I'm not sure of the time line on this because I was very young. We moved to Marion Drive and Owens, other side of town. It was the other side. When you say "the other side," what— Which is opposite sides. You're going from Highland to Marion Drive, which is like Nellis. You know where Nellis is? Yes. You were near the air force base, down that way now. Yes, towards that way. Because Owens goes all the way across the city, so you're in East Las Vegas now. Yes. But at that time segregation was going on and they bussed me from there, that area, to C.V.T. Gilbert. Oh, that's great. At that time any bus that came—they knew which busses were segregation busses. How did you know? Well, they threw rocks at the bus. Who threw rocks? People in that area. It was not constant, but you knew...You knew. It was just that time period. That's right. It was in the sixties, early seventies that we're talking about. Yes. Kindergarten was my only experience of that type of situation. It was over basically after that. It calmed down a lot thereafter. We moved quite a bit because I ended up going to C.V.T. Gilbert—what was the name of that school? Where is it? It's off Commerce and Lake Mead, Jo Mackey. I went to Dell H. Robison, I went to Jo Mackey, I 9 went to Jim Bridger, I went to J.D. Smith, Roy Martin. I went to Rancho, Vegas High, and it's not there no more; it's not called the same. What was it? It's the one up on the hill, Mountain Vista. It was a technical center at the time. It's still a technical school now? I'm not sure what it is now. It's one of the academies? I think some type of academy. I took some classes there, horticulture, welding. I was trying to get into welding because it was around my family a lot. But I got art burn. You know how you put the helmet when you weld? Well, I touched the steel before I put my helmet on. My eyes hurt so bad for three days that I go, "I'm not doing that. That's not me." You were a teenager, a student. I was a student. That teacher probably...Whew. I never told him. Okay, good. Where did you finish high school? I actually didn't finish high school. What did your mom say? She was upset, but I was already working. She just left it alone. I had lots of opportunities, too; unfortunately, I kind of let them go because I was mentored by a program that was sponsored by UNLV, I think; it was called Upward Bound. Of course, yes. I had a free ride almost and I just let it go. I let it go. Even my friends at work, they go, "Mario, why did you...?" They used to tell me all the time, "You would be somebody if you had just 10 finished school." Well, I think you are somebody, but...They still have Upward Bound today. It is still going on at UNLV's campus. Dr. Lujan was the teacher that mentored me, tried to get me into the program. We have interviewed him. Connections. Exactly. What was your first job when you were sixteen? I started full-time at sixteen. My first job was as a dishwasher. Where? I was twelve years old. At the Hilton hotel. They let you work at twelve? You looked older? Yes, pretty much. What did you give them as a work card? A health card. How did you get it? I went to the Health Department and got it. At twelve? Twelve. I got a work permit from a judge. My mom went with me. Yes. Wow. Dishwasher where? At that time it was a restaurant called the Hofbrau. Where was that located? I'm not sure where in the building. There was the Hofbrau here, kitchen hallway, and right in the back was Benihana's. 11 Yes, Benihana's is still there. Yes. The Hofbrau is no longer there. Right. I think that Hofbrau is now that huge thing on the corner of Harmon and Paradise. Oh, yes, yes, yes. I remember being a dishwasher and seeing the Geisha girls. I'm like, woooow. I had never seen anything like this, all dolled up in their makeup, white faces. I'm like, man. I was amazed. What else were you impressed by at sixteen? At sixteen I started working at the Sundance at the time; it had just opened. There was still a lot of mob talk in that place. I think it was the last place built with mob money. Where was the Sundance? It's the D now. Okay, so it was downtown. Yes. Tell me what you heard about the mob. I kept hearing Al Sachs and Herb Tobman. There was a younger girl always there, stayed in the building. She would talk to me because I was working there. I would go on break to the phones. No cell phones at the time, so I would go to the phone, pull a chair up, and you'd have to talk like this. She would always say, "Hi, Mario. How are you doing?" She left and security approaches me. "Why are you talking to that young lady?" I'm like, "Well, I see her all the time. I just say hello." They approached me like I was doing something wrong. "How old are you? You shouldn't be talking to her; you're too old." I'm like, "I'm only sixteen." I looked older, though. I should have brought some of those pictures of myself. 12 That's how I knew it was somebody's daughter, because they told me to stay away from her, and that was that. Those names were some of the names. Yes. Where did you go after the Sundance? I went to the Stardust after that, more mob stuff. What did you do at the Stardust? I was a busboy. Did you ever see people doing things that you wanted to do, like become a dealer or any of the other jobs? Well, the ones I would see, I would like...Jimmie "J.J." Walker. He loved chocolate milk shakes; he had one of those almost every morning. I'm like, man, I'm going to do what he's doing. I used to see Rip Taylor all the time. He was in there constantly. One of the curly haired guys from M*A*S*H. was always in there. I can't remember his name. This is after Hawkeye they had the other one with the curly hair. Radar? No, no. Hawkeye and—the buddies. Yes, Hawkeye and the other one's name is Alan Alda, but I can't remember his name on the show. Remember, Hawkeye and then the curly headed guy; that guy, he used to be there all the time. Knight Rider used to be in there all the time. When the government made the mob sell the Stardust, it was not the same; it was like from day to night from one day to the next. 13 From the mob to the Boyd group. It was like a completely different place. It was never the same, never the same again. Tell me some differences that you saw. The people, the attraction was done. It was like, it's over. Like the good old days. It was gone. Like the fun, the entertainment, the... Yes, it was gone, yes. I remember the day that the IRS, ATF and the FBI all came in because they came in with guns drawn. I was working in the coffee shop and I could see them going across. After that they shut everything down. Nobody could leave or come in until they were done with whatever they were doing in the casino. My shift was like six to two. I ended up there until like four or five o'clock before they let me leave. That was just done after that. I actually left a few months after that. Where did you go? I actually went to Mexico for a while; I was there six months. Then I came back and I started working a lot of places after that. Every place that's not here I worked. Desert Inn. I worked the Dunes. I worked Bally's—well, Bally's is still there. I take it back. I worked the Landmark, the Sunset Room; I worked up there. They were going through some type of bankruptcy, too, at that time. Where else on the Strip did I work? Of course, the Stardust. Did you work at the Sands? I think I worked some banquets at the Sands, but that was about it. Oh, Riviera, I worked some banquets, yes. 14 When did you get to the place that you decided you wanted to stay someplace? Where was that? 1985—I started working at Binion's, December 19th, 1985. Why there? At that time, I just went in, talked to the maître d' on recommendation from one of the servers, Mike Mathis. He said, "Just go talk to him. Let him know what you know." I even wore my black pants; I was ready to work that day. I was ready because that's one thing my mom always told me, "Just be ready to work if they ask you to work at that moment. Just be ready." It wasn't at that moment; it was the next day. Imagine, this is my first week, I worked from the 19th to the 23rd and got laid off. They closed the week for Christmas. It was slow. I'm like, oh my goodness, it's Christmastime and I need money. So I go work at Gigi's at Bally's; it was a French cuisine restaurant. I worked there for about two weeks and they closed for some reason or another. It wasn't even two weeks. I take it back. It was a couple of days before New Year's Eve they shut down. They said, "We're going to open back up New Year's Eve." I'm like, okay, I made some money for Christmas. The day before New Year's Eve, they called me from Bally's—at that time that was a very lucrative job, a lot of money. I didn't like the employees, though. I'll be honest with you, I didn't like the employees that were there. He called my, "Hey, Mario, we're going to open back up tomorrow." I already had this job at Binion's and I loved it and I said, "I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be able to come back unless you can make me some promises." Because I asked for promises—like I said, it was a very lucrative job, good money—he told me he couldn't make me any promises. What kind of promises did you need? 15 Full time. I asked him; I said, "I need full time." He goes, "I can't make you any promises." And I'm like, "Sorry." His name was Elario, I'll never forget. He's like, "Please, please, please, monsieur, just for this day, just for this day." I said, "Sorry, Elario, I can't." I went back there and that's where I've been. You are still at Binion's? I'm still at Binion's. Tell me, what is it about Binion's? Binion's, well, like I said, I've worked on the Strip. To me not only the people and the employees seem to be different downtown. It's like a different animal. It is a different animal to me. We are more low-key, more down-to-earth, not too uptight, and that's what I loved about it and I still love about it. Now that we have the National Finals Rodeo here in December, do you see a difference in the level of business and that places don't stop? Oh, yes. That National Finals Rodeo hits Las Vegas at the perfect time because it slows down because of the holidays and it gives us a nice good bump right before Christmas, and then it slows down right after the rodeo. But a few days before New Year's Eve, it starts...If it wasn't for the National Finals Rodeo, we would be very slow in Las Vegas. No, that would be a big hit for Las Vegas if it leaves, so I hope it never leaves. Me too. I heard it was leaving and then I heard it wasn't leaving. That used to be Benny Binion's job to make sure that that stayed here. Because he was the cowboy. He was the guy. He was the guy to do that. 16 Tell me about the culture of Binion's and downtown. I love downtown, also. Binion's, or Horseshoe, made more money per square foot than any place in town at one time. Because of his gambling attitude. Yes, yes. Tell me about that. Good food, good drink, keeping people happy. They're going to spend their money here. I'll tell you, he did not believe in entertainment, though, Benny Binion. No music, no bands. The only time he would even think of doing anything like that was for the Rodeo. But what was it? Put TVs and put a little band of music for the cowboys. Other than that, no. He catered to them big time. I used to hear that he would sponsor their entrance fees for a lot of those riders. They just catered to him, too. You would go in the Horseshoe during the National Finals Rodeo and look into the casino and all you would see is a sea of hats, hats, and then smoke just filled the air. It was a different time, different place. We get a crowd now, but it's spread out throughout the town where it used to concentrate around the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe became Binion's. What is it now? It is still Binion's, yes. Tell me about the food today. Thank goodness, our restaurant in the steakhouse—they've tried to mess with our menu, tweak it, but it always goes back to what it was. Put it this way, I have people I have been serving there in the same room for thirty years plus. Is this a place that I should go for special meals? Yes, yes, absolutely, especially if you're a steak fan, absolutely. Where is the steakhouse located? 17 Downtown. Twenty-fourth floor. We've got a beautiful view. How much am I going to pay for a dinner? Unfortunately, everything is going up. It's still cheaper than on the Strip, put it that way. You're going to end up...Forty-eight dollars for a steak, but it comes with your potato and vegetable, so you don't have to pay ten dollars for a baked potato. And dessert? All our desserts are seven dollars, everything, down the line. How much am I going to pay for a glass of wine? They go from nine to twelve dollars. About average, okay. But they're nice glasses of wine. Nice pour. Yes. I hear that from a lot of customers. "That's a nice pour." I can tell you one thing, my younger days I used to hang out after work. There would be fifteen of us, twenty of us at the bar to get a drink. There was nothing like paying fifteen dollars for the whole round of fifteen people, or twenty dollars for all twenty of you, because it used to be a dollar for a drink, one dollar. And now I'm going to pay all of that for a glass of wine, wow. Incredible, huh? Yes, it is. Give me stories. When you talk to your friends about working downtown and being at Binion's, what are the stories you tell? It was not being at Binion's. We would gather at Binion's and drink, but during the seventies, eighties, early nineties, every club had a lounge: Fremont; Four Queens; Nugget; the old Mint, 18 which is the side I'm working at, Merry Mint Lounge; it had a lounge; Union Plaza had a lounge. We would lounge hop, bop, bop, bop, bop. When we were done with lounge hopping, we would all end up back at the Horseshoe and everybody would say, "I'm going to go play some twenty-one." Benny knew he was going to make his money; he knew that he was going to make his money. Now the D is owned by Derek Stevens and his brother. How is downtown changing? It is changing. I hope it doesn't change to the point they want to make it like the Strip because your dollar still goes further downtown. If they start getting that Strip mentality, it's going to harm downtown as a whole. But that big wheel keeps turning; you can't stop progress. Right now I'm hoping any change downtown is good for downtown, but that is yet to be seen. I feel the same way you do. I love going downtown to the new restaurants and all of that, walking everywhere. What about the Fremont Street Experience; is that good or bad having that canopy? I think it helped downtown. I think it opened in '95. Something like that, yes. Downtown was in a great decline and it did help. They had the security guards come in to walk that canopy and that helped because I can remember you could walk outside the casino and you're going to be hit up. "You want to buy this; you want this?" It's not like that no more. It happens but not like it was happening because you could walk outside, you could see somebody leaning against the Nugget passed out, vice versa over here, but it was like that. It was taking a fall. I was kind of glad that the canopy came. I miss cruising down Fremont Street because we used to do that a lot. 19 What kind of car did you have? I always had old beat-up cars. I always went with my friends. Because I'