On the record, twin-brother L.A. nightlife impresarios Mark and Jonnie Houston are coming to Las Vegas with their new nightlife concept, On the Record.
Known for creating multilayered entertainment spaces — such as Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, Black Rabbit Rose and the carnival-themed, politics-tinged Madame Siam Sideshow Emporium — that blend drinking, dancing, design, socializing and cool hidden “speakeasy” entrances, the fraternal twins have been considering Las Vegas for years. But a space in Park MGM (formerly the Monte Carlo), a resort developed in partnership between MGM Resorts and Sydell Group, helped seal the deal.
“Sydell made the intro to MGM Resorts, and we were courted by them for three years,” says Mark Houston.
The duo’s popular Break Room 86 is located inside Sydell’s Line Hotel in Koreatown.
“As avid visitors, we said, ‘Why not do Vegas?’” Mark says. “There is a demand for something new and to add another layer that the town doesn’t have right now.”
“In the past, when Mark and I went to Las Vegas there haven’t been a lot of [nightlife options] that appeal to us — we go to nice dinners, see a Cirque show, get a massage, do a little gambling,” says Jonnie. “There was nothing that drew us — it was the same nightclubs. We want to create an immersive experience to take people out of the norm. We want people to go out and have a good time.”
At 11,000 square feet, On the Record, situated across from the Park MGM theater (where Lady Gaga will also debut her residency New Year’s Eve), will be the largest venture to date for the Houstons but small by Las Vegas mega-club standards. But the brothers are quick to point out that they aren’t trying to compete with such hotspots as Marquee and Hakkasan (averaging around 50,000 square feet). “I do love those places for what they are and I do appreciate them,” Jonnie says. “What they do is amazing, and they are great at what they do.”
Divided into three main spaces but offering multiple experiences, On the Record will incorporate the hallmarks of the Houstons’ existing venues and is sure to lure Hollywood fans as their L.A. spots do (Joaquin Phoenix, Robert Pattinson, Billy Idol).
“[The norm right now in Vegas is] one big room with one DJ, bottle service — and if you don’t have a table, you may feel pushed aside. We want to create an experience where everyone feels important,” Jonnie says, adding that OTR will allow partiers “to escape and explore so you are not stuck in one room.” He compares it to “the best date I have ever had…. Every place you go a different piece of magic happens.”
“The entry of the space is a fully functioning record store,” says Mark. “As kids, we went to Tower Records and picked out records. On the Record is nostalgic and driven by our experiences. You had to work for it; vinyl had a raw, gritty vibe versus a download.” He adds that there will be a hidden entrance from the store into the club, a design that’s “something we haven’t done before.”
Inside will be a main room with hidden VIP areas and a reservation-only “speakeasy within a speakeasy,” which Mark calls the “jewel box.” The outdoor patio does not face Las Vegas Boulevard.
“[The vibe is] ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s — it is a journey,” Jonnie says. “Within the rooms there [will be a mix of ] DJs and opportunities for bands to bend their genres.”
As with their L.A. spots, the brothers will design the space themselves and curate found items that work with the theme. On the Record will offer bottle service and other types of communal imbibing like punch bowls. Food will be served by a yet-to-be named partner and the cocktail program will be a combination of their team and other mixologists.
“When I go to L.A. and see them doing such a good job of creating a vibe and an experience that is different, then that’s what gets me excited,” says Sean Christie, president of events and nightlife for MGM Resorts International. “I supported them to build infrastructure in Las Vegas so that we can have the best of both worlds, which is their creativity, their unique spin on the way they see the world, the types of places they do in L.A. — and then combine that with the expertise that I have related to nightclubs and Las Vegas.”
Over the last decade, Christie created some of the desert city’s most well-known and profitable nightclubs for Wynn Las Vegas — such as Blush and Encore Beach Club — and later served as executive vp business development for Wynn Resorts. He joined MGM Resorts in early 2018.
“I think the things that have really worked in the last 10 years are entertainment-driven concepts driven by DJs, artists or famous people — names that cause people to buy tickets, prepay for tables and make their itinerary based on a calendar, much like you would decide to see a live show,” Christie notes. “But I found myself sitting in Break Room 86 and I was having a lot of fun and I thought it could work. It was unexpected, and I’m a hard customer to please. We’re inundated so much with technology, and because of things like vinyl — lo-fi things — [On the Record] evokes a certain amount of nostalgia and imagery that hits your soft spots.”