Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Veleveteen Rabbit Set To Finally Become Real In March

The classic children's story The Velveteen Rabbit is about a stuffed bunny struggling against the odds to become real, empowered by the love of his owner. The story of The Velveteen Rabbit Bar in Downtown Las Vegas follows similar beats as the beloved children's tale, with two sisters who have struggled against the odds to take a magical dream and make it real through the sheer force of love... and it looks like a happy ending is finally around the corner.

I've already mentioned the bar in a previous post, but I also figured that the place would be open by now, but the place has been delayed a few times. While Pam and Christina Dylag had a tough road to sow in getting their dream business off the ground, The Facebook Page page for ambitious (and off Fremont) DTV entertainment district Downtown 3rd reports that the whimsical bar will start pouring real cocktails sometime in March.

This is a happy ending to a story that seemed like it might not have one. Just a few weeks ago, The Las Vegas Review Journal reported on the latest (but seemingly last) hurdles that the Dylag sisters faced in getting their bar set up for business. The place has been two years in the making, as the sisters chose to renovate an abandoned and fire damaged old furniture store in Downtown, knowing it would inject some character and history into their business. But renovations were more difficult than expected, as simple things like hooking up the building to sewer lines (which is a pretty big necessity, obviously) proved more difficult and expensive than originally anticipated. Thus far, the sisters have spent two years renovating their space and already sunk nearly $250,000 into a bar that is still not operational.

Another difficulty they faced setting up gaming in the bar. This is Vegas we're talking about, after all, and the sisters originally planned to install five slot machines at The Velveteen Rabbit. But in 2011 a new ordinance was passed mandating that a business must offer a certain amount of square footage for food service in order to install five or more slot machines, a law that makes absolutely no sense and is blatantly designed to favor large casinos over small bars.

But the sisters finally caught a break recently, as the city council unanimously approved them for a "quick-start" grant, in which they were awarded nearly $35,000 to offset the crazy costs of making sure the renovated building is in compliance with the city's constantly shifting codes.

So with that victory, it looks like the dream is actually, finally, becoming a reality. Located a few blocks away from the quickly growing Fremont East District on Main Street, right in the middle of The First Fridays Art Walk route, the sisters are hoping to contribute to the expansion of Downtown as it evolves into a truly walkable area for locals. You can take a look at the sister's official blog to catch a glimpse of the whimsical and imaginative vision that that these two crushable, bad-ass, Vegas-born, and Bohemian sisters with eclectic taste will bring to life at the bar.

They haven't given anyone a full glimpse into what the finished interior will look like yet, but we can expect a whimsical place complete with furniture and antiques purchased from local thrift stores, mismatched glassware, creative signature cocktails created with fresh ingredients and love, a smartly curated menu of craft brews, local art on the walls, performances by local bands and DJs , fire damage incorporated into the aesthetic, a colorful Victorian design, chandeliers made from recycled and re-purposed glass bottles, and four (but not five) slot machines. And next month, you'll finally be able to visit the place for real as it goes from much loved concept to actual working watering hole, from hotly anticipated bar to actual hangout for local creative types and "curious class" Vegas tourists alike.

Opening The Velveteen Rabbit has been a labor of love for the Dylag sisters that has taken years (and lots of money) to come to fruition, but that's only appropriate, considering the bar's namesake. To paraphrase the original story by Margery Williams, when someone "loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time."

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