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Music – “Luck Be A Lady (Live At The Sands, Las Vegas/1966)” from Vegas by Frank Sinatra
If you’re my age, you might remember the “Superman” TV series featuring the “Chief” of that great Metropolis newspaper, “The Daily Planet“, Perry White. In the 1950’s TV series, Mr. White was fond of exclaiming “Great Caesar’s Ghost”, when provoked, excited or exasperated, which he seemed to be much of the time. Well, “Great Caesar’s Ghost” might be shocked if he happened to teleport himself ahead in time and space to Las Vegas, Nevada, today.
Although the statistics vary, there are probably about 80 or more casinos in Las Vegas proper (including Caesar’s Palace), excluding those outside of the city limits and in surrounding counties and cities.
Many, if not most, have the ever pervasive and popular “all-you-can-eat” buffet.
“Buffet” is from the French, meaning “sideboard”, a system of serving meals in which the foods are placed in a public area and diners serve themselves.
Prices at the Las Vegas buffets range from the sublime to the ridiculous: at “Arizona Charlie’s East” you can indulge in a breakfast buffet for $5.49…..yes, that’s right….$5.49 smackeroos! I don’t know what you get, but it’s cheap at half the price. At “Caesar’s Palace” on the strip, you can expect to fork over about $22 for their breakfast buffet, and a little more on weekends.
The ever-popular dinner buffet at Las Vegas casinos also varies: at good old “Arizona Charlie’s East”, you can eat for $8.99. If that doesn’t suit you, trek back to the “Bellagio” on the strip for their $31.99 dinner buffet (more on weekends).
Better yet, if you’re really hungry and just won a lot of cash at the slot machines, saunter over to “Bacchanal” at Caesar’s Palace: $45.99 weeknights and up to $60.00 on weekends! Better be hungry before you tackle this one.
The “Bacchanal” buffet at Caesar’s boasts 500 items in their buffet, so even if you have allergies or are a picky eater, you’re bound to find something you can indulge in. Great Caesar’s Ghost!
“Glitter Gulch”, “Lost Wages”, “Sin City” are just some of the names Las Vegas is fondly known as.
In addition, it is the city that never sleeps (like New York City), and is truly the gambling capital of the world. Everything in Las Vegas is overblown, outrageous, outlandish, off the top, too much, saturated inanity and that’s why, I guess, people love it. After all, we’ve all heard that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Buffets are no exception.
If buffets are not enough to satisfy your hunger, you can always stop at “The Heart Attack Grill” for the 8,000 calorie “Quadruple Bypass Burger” and as you waddle back to your hotel room, indulge in a 24 scoop ice cream bowl at the Sugar Factory in “Paris”, Las Vegas for $99. Sweet dreams!
Las Vegas, in 2013 had about 39 million visitors. That’s a lot of people and a lot of food to be consumed. No wonder the buffet is so popular.
At the Bellagio alone, statistics for 2012 indicated that the daily dinner consumption averaged 1,400 pounds of Alaska King Crab legs, 2,000 pounds of shrimp, 500 pounds of salmon…the list goes on, not to mention 700,000 pounds of sugar used annually, and this is just one casino!
To put it into perspective, on average, Las Vegas hotels and restaurants go through around 22 million pounds each year, much of which is wasted. At the MGM Grand, only one of many casinos, about 8,000 pounds of food waste are tossed for recycling, daily!
What I found fascinating about Las Vegas casino restaurants, including buffets, is that they have a great recycling program for wasted food (read: “are your eyes bigger than your stomach?”) On average, the City of Las Vegas sends more than 9,000 tons of trash to landfills daily, of which the bulk is wasted food. Now think about it: 9,000 tons would be like tossing 96 Boeing 737’s into the landfill every day! That’s a lot of stuff. Fortunately, R.C. Farms came to the rescue some years ago and continues to do a thriving business on what the tourists don’t eat in their buffet grazing.
This pig farm has been recycling millions of pounds of food tossed from buffets in hotels, casinos and restaurants in Las Vegas, for several decades. The pigs love it! However, the recycling continues: after the little pigs have fattened up enough, they are sold back to the restaurants and end up on the menu and the whole shebang starts again.
It seems that Las Vegas, in the old days, was known primarily for it’s casinos, brothels and gangsters (Bugsy Siegal, The Rat Pack, etc.), but now, it’s the entertainment and food that seems to draw most visitors again and again. Even if Lady Luck doesn’t pass your way, don’t forget to save some $$$ for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Great Caesar’s Ghost! At least make the trip worthwhile!
Nevada slideshow photos by Sue Jimenez (Valley of Fire and Las Vegas, 1993)