Raising the stakes
At Mystique Asian Restaurant & Lounge, the goal is to both entertain and delight the guest, says executive chef Anthony Micari. The restaurant opened within the Encore Boston Harbor luxury resort and casino in Everett, Massachusetts, last June.
Serving sushi, large-format dishes, and Japanese-inspired cuisine, tapas-style, Mystique spans some 16,400 square feet and includes robata (fireside cooking), an open kitchen, and private dining areas. The lavish lounge is adorned with Asian-inspired décor curated from around the world.
Global flourishes in a restaurant’s cuisine and design are also in sync with the times. The casino customer has changed; guests are now better traveled with high expectations for food and service quality, Bertolone says.
“We spend an incredible amount of time on details. From the moment you step inside, we have to transport you and make you feel you’re in a different environment. We have to think every day about how can we get better and provide a better, more customized experience,” Bertolone adds. “That’s the biggest challenge in Vegas.”
To stay relevant, restaurants within these establishments need to think about the trends of tomorrow, Bertolone adds. He and his team spend a lot of time traveling the world for inspiration and combing through consumer analytics to stay ahead of the curve.
Besting the competition—or at the very least, keeping pace with consumers—is a challenge for all restaurants, but the Sin City raises the stakes.
“Every day you have to wow the guest. Every day is a new day, and there’s no room for error. It’s very important to create this ‘wow’ moment, this unique experience for our guests—and it’s the only way we can create loyalty,” Bertolone says.
Celebrity chefs are one route to conjuring awe in patrons. Over the last several years, industry luminaries including José Andrés and Marcus Samuelsson have opened shop in Las Vegas, often drawing larger crowds than their standalone restaurants elsewhere.
Another way to build a loyal following is through creating lifestyle restaurants so it’s not about the name of the chef or the restaurant but rather the social influence the brand has. This strategy, Bertolone explains, will be a growing part of what MGM Resorts offers going forward, as reflected in its newly opened restaurant, The Mayfair.