Viva Milwaukee! A look at Brew City's exports to Vegas
Visitors to Las Vegas may feel like they've walked into a casting call for American icons. The images of celebrated locales (the New York City skyline, Bourbon Street in New Orleans) and celebrities (Elvis, Frank Sinatra) are everywhere on the Vegas strip.
Las Vegas is our nation's assembly of great icons, and Milwaukee has a place at the table. Milwaukee is represented by two establishments in Las Vegas' collection of larger-than-life images: the Harley-Davidson Café and the Liberace Museum.
Between sessions at the blackjack table, OnMilwaukee.com paid a visit to these two destinations:
A 28-foot-high replica of a motorcycle appears to ram through the exterior of the Harley-Davidson Café. In most towns the oversized bike might qualify as a spectacle, but on the strip it's just one of many exaggerations. Since 1997, the Harley-Davidson Café has stood at the corner of the Las Vegas Boulevard and Harmon.
The spectacles continue once you enter the two-story restaurant: an American flag composed of 44,000 chain links hangs next to the dining area; a giant map tracing the path of Route 66 covers the ceiling over the bar. For those who want to gamble rather than gawk, the bar has a few slot and video poker machines.
The café is as much corporate showcase as it is a restaurant, so a stroll through the restaurant may be in order before you dine. Dozens of historical photos line the walls, including a shot of the founders, Bill Harley and Bill Davidson. A newspaper photograph shows President Kennedy greeting the motorcycle cops who had escorted him to St. John's Cathedral in downtown Milwaukee.
The café flaunts Harley-Davidson's popularity with celebrities. Some well-known Harley riders are pictured atop their bikes, including Willie Nelson and Bob Hope. There's a large collection of the Harley "tear drop" engines on display, each signed by a celebrity, such as Sting and Chuck Norris. (A few of the celebrity signatures seem out of place -- seeing the autographs of David Hyde Pierce and Carol Burnett made us wonder if this display was planned by the same guy who picked Elton John to headline Harley's 100th Anniversary concert?).
Visitors can purchase Harley clothing and memorabilia at the gift shop, which has a separate entrance next to the restaurant. The shop is small, and often there is a line outside to enter.
Oh yeah, there is food at the Harley-Davidson Café. Dinner entrees fall in the $10-$20 range and include steak, chicken and different barbecue dishes. Of course there are the inevitable thematic names on the menu: some of the cocktails include the Shock Absorber, the Wheelie, and the Sturgis, appetizers are called Kick Starts, etc.
The Harley-Davidson Café is located at 3725 Las Vegas Boulevard South (702-740-4555), between the Aladdin and MGM casinos. Their Web site is harley-davidsoncafe.com.Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
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