Who was the man with the namesake new restaurant at Wynn Las Vegas? One of the most influential people in forming the Las Vegas culture we know today.
Charlie Meyerson and Steve Wynn.
CHARLIE MEYERSON WOULD HAVE BEEN THE LAST PERSON TO ASK HIS PORTRAIT BE HUNG ON A WALL.
“He never wanted to draw attention to himself,” explains the longtime host’s son, Jeffrey Prince. “It was always about his guests. He wanted to make sure that for the time they were visiting, they were treated like royalty.” That said, his father would be “pleased and proud,” says Prince, knowing that the lessons he dispensed during life became his legacy, and the friendships he made have forever been enshrined on the Las Vegas Strip.
In August, Wynn Las Vegas debuted Charlie’s Bar + Grill in the space formerly occupied by Zoozacrackers deli. A portrait of Meyerson, who passed away in 2004 at the age of 88, adorns the wall of the restaurant, and a menu dedication—printed and placed at every seat—recounts his life story, from his service in the Marines during World War II to his tenure working for Steve Wynn at Atlantic City’s Golden Nugget and The Mirage.
“His ability to make guests feel welcome, respected and cared for is what made him legendary in this town,” Wynn writes in the dedication, proclaiming his friend of 40 years “the undisputed all-time greatest hotel executive.”
The Charlie Burger is a two-patty classic with American cheese on a challah bun.
“This is a testimony to the bond Steve Wynn and Charlie Meyerson shared,” says Wynn Vice President Stephen Battaglini, a former executive host who served alongside Meyerson for five years. “It gives me a warm feeling to see his photo smiling down on all of us.”
44 RULES TO LIVE BY
The loaded dog.
Those closest to Meyerson describe him as a principled man, one whose life and career adhered to a very specific code. Battaglini passes along proof of Meyerson’s principles in the form of a document titled “The Philosophies of Charlie Meyerson.” It’s five pages, with a note marking the last update on May 29, 2000. Even at 84 years old, Meyerson was still giving out life lessons to peers and successors.
“[Charlie] mentored me through observing his interactions with casino guests as well as employees,” Battaglini explains. “I believe all employees should read and live by [these].” The “philosophies”—44 total, with additional advice written at the end of the list—could easily replace any human resources handbook for hosts on the Strip:
No. 4: Learn to say “no” and still have the customer like you.
No. 15: You can’t make enough friends and you can’t afford one enemy.
No. 35: Don’t delay acting on a good idea; chances are someone else has just thought of it too. Success comes to the one who acts first.
It’s easy to see why Meyerson was so respected. These principles “no doubt led to his success,” says Prince, now employed at Wynn Las Vegas. “I like to think that those ideals guide me as well.”
MAKING NEW MEMORIES
Birthday milkshake, complete with cake and marshmallow fluff.
The late-summer debut of Charlie’s Bar + Grill, with high-resolution, bigscreen televisions galore, was timed to coincide with the new football season. Perhaps management was also taking a page from Meyerson’s playbook, specifically No. 43: “You get one chance with a first impression… make it good.” Many seats at Charlie’s offer unimpeded views of an adjacent 137-foot-wide LED video wall, and the high-definition TV screens that line the interior of Charlie’s sync viewers with the action happening just a few feet away. A 22-foot bar now links the restaurant to the viewing area—remodeled with 49 viewing carrels and custom-made red sofas for VIPs—and additional lighting gives both spaces a grand feel. With game-day crowds among its core customers, the Charlie’s Bar + Grill menu is loaded with tailgate favorites and classic American grill fare.
That would please Meyerson, who famously eschewed “health” foods despite keeping active on a Stairmaster well into his 80s. A 2004 Las Vegas Sun tribute even referenced his fondness for sugary treats and aversion to greens. “Charlie would appreciate anything that wasn’t green on his plate,” recalls Battaglini. “He did not care for any green vegetables or any garnishment such as parsley.” Prince, who describes his father’s tastes as “simple and straightforward,” notes Meyerson was fond of a “good-quality, expertly cooked steak,” with no greens, of course. (Deference to health-conscious guests places a “Field of Greens” category on the menu.) What would Meyerson recommend for diners at his namesake restaurant? “He liked a simple Sabrett frank from the street vendors of New York,” says Prince. But Meyerson, whose fifth rule stipulated that the “customer be the hero,” would heartily approve of a guest preferring the “loaded dog,” groaning under its sauerkraut and condiments next to a pile of extra-crispy “seashore fries.” It is as principled a hot dog as you will likely ever have the opportunity to order.