Lombardi making Vegas comeback with Euro trio at new Aladdin resort

Lombardi making Vegas comeback with Euro trio at new Aladdin resort – Brief Article

Ron Ruggless

DALLAS — Alberto Lombardi, who owns and operates eight restaurants from Miami to Phoenix, disclosed plans to open three more as part of the planned Desert Passage development that will adjoin the new Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Lombardi said the restaurants would occupy 16,000 square feet of the Desert Passage, scheduled for debut in May 2000. The concepts will be an Italian trattoria, a French bistro and a Spanish tapas bar.

“Las Vegas has so many new places,” Lombardi said, “and this offers a great opportunity to be positioned in another of the city’s major entertainment attractions. This is a wonderful way to return to Las Vegas.”

Lombardi, 51, had a high-grossing namesake restaurant in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace in 1992, in a joint venture with the Quantum Restaurant Group Inc. of Roslyn Heights, N.Y. Quantum, predecessor company to Morton’s Restaurant Group, seized the Caesars location in a dispute with Lombardi and made it a Bertolini’s, prompting a series of bitter lawsuits.

“Things have changed a lot in Las Vegas since then,” Lombardi explained.

He said the Desert Passage project at the 2,600-room Aladdin, being built by TrizecHahn Development, is expected to provide as many as 60,000 pedestrian passers-by a day. “There will be more than 20,000 hotel rooms within a few-block area,” he added.

Vivian Escobar, director of marketing for Dallas-based Lombardi’s Inc., said the Aladdin venture “really is a unique opportunity.” The Desert Passage is themed around Spain, Africa, India and the Arabian Sea, she said, and its planning has involved production designers from the movie industry.

Lombardi said he plans to take his French bistro concept, Bizu, which opened in February near downtown Dallas, and his Italian trattoria concept Lombardi’s to Las Vegas as well as the yet-unnamed Spanish tapas bar. The three restaurants will share a prep kitchen, he said, but each 160- to 180-seat venue will have its own working kitchen. He expects the check averages to be in the $25to-$40 range.

Lombardi has restaurants in Atlanta, Phoenix and Miami as well as a Bellini’s in Captiva Island, Fla. In Dallas he has a location called 311 Lombardi as well as Bizu and Lombardi Mare. His Bacio ice-cream and yogurt shop is at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

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