September 20, 2022 - 8:35 am
Updated September 20, 2022 - 5:06 pm
At Aria, where choice once flourished, it flourishes again. But this is not, as before, the choice of familiar abundance. This is choice, edited. Choice at once distinct and expansive. The choice of the moment.
The buffet at Aria, a fine instance of classic Las Vegas plenitude, closed in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic. In December, Proper Eats food hall is scheduled to open in the former buffet on Aria’s second-level promenade, the Review-Journal has exclusively learned.
Proper Eats, developed by Clique Hospitality of Vegas, offers a dozen food and drink concepts (to use the industry term), mini-restaurants that range globally from breakfast to burgers, ramen to Jewish deli, Mediterranean to Korean fried chicken and beyond, in 24,000 square feet.
Alessandro Munge and his Studio Munge, known for vibrant hotel and restaurant designs, are creating a sleek and striking space for Proper Eats, one anchored by a communal bar and dining area (and, to judge by renderings, one stylish enough to be a stand-alone Strip restaurant).
Aria could simply have refreshed and reopened the buffet, but replacing it with a food hall feels more modern, more in keeping with how diners want to experience multiple cooking traditions under one roof, said Andy Masi, founder of Clique Hospitality.
“Going to a food hall is what people are more inclined to do now, rather than going to a buffet. It’s more individual dining choices with high-quality product. This is what the market is looking for.”
First restaurants revealed
Aria shared with the RJ the first four purveyors to sign on for Proper Eats.
Seoul Bird presents its debut location outside London at the food hall. The restaurant, from founders Judy Joo and Andrew Hales, is built on Joo’s Korean heritage, the duo’s food trips across Korea, and renditions of Korean fried chicken.
At Proper Eats, Seoul Bird dishes include K-Tots topped with melted cheese, kimchi and hot sauce, and a signature fried chicken sandwich with signature sauce and Kewpie mayonnaise.
Wexler’s Deli, known for curing and smoking fish and meat in-house to create Jewish deli standards, is launching its first shop outside of Southern California at Proper Eats. Look for lox, cream cheese and sliced onion spilling from a bagel, or corned beef piled vertiginously for a jaw-unhinging Reuben sandwich.
From down New York City way comes Egghead, the Tao Group Hospitality supplier of breakfast sandwiches featuring eggs, cheese and accoutrements sandwiched between golden brioche buns. (Tao Group, of course, is familiar for its Vegas portfolio of restaurants, nightclubs, dayclubs and posh pool parties.)
Temaki, created by Clique Hospitality, showcases sustainably caught seafood and made-to-order sushi hand rolls and other modern sushi.
Among the other eight concepts that round out the offerings at Proper Eats are breakfast doughnuts, salads and other healthy foods, pizza, burgers, ramen and a Mediterranean spot. These purveyors were not identified.
How eats were deemed proper
Masi joined with Jason McLeod, culinary director of Proper Eats, and with Oliver Wharton, founder of A Perfect Bite hospitality, to fashion the mix at the food hall. How was that accomplished?
First, there couldn’t be overlaps with Aria, Masi said. “We’re not going to have a dumpling place — Aria has Din Tai Fung. Aria has Javier’s, so we don’t want Mexican.”
There were must-have concepts — fried chicken, an Asian option, breakfast, a deli — hence the first four vendors. And the trio drew on their experience and judgment about the choices customers want now (and going forward), Masi said.
Delray Beach Market, a food hall Clique helped launch in the Florida city in 2021, provided a learning experience and guidance, especially with what Masi called the “operational backbone: the technologies involved, the systems to use, operational know-how and how to build out the food hall.”
Clique Hospitality will operate all the restaurants at Proper Eats. The company is an old hand at providing choices to Vegas diners. Among its 10 other venues in the city are Gatsby’s Cocktail Lounge in Resorts World Las Vegas, Clique Lounge in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Borracha Mexican Cantina in Green Valley Ranch, Hearthstone Kitchen & Cellar in Red Rock Resort, and The Still Drafts, Crafts & Eats at The Mirage.