Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Las Vegas - Atomic Liquors

January 2015 - Las Vegas NV

We had stopped to get photos last week but the bar wasn't open so we headed back have a beer and check it out.

Click here for a detailed history of the original owners.
In 1921, Virginia and her two daughters; Helen (age 4) and Stella (age 2) stepped off the train in Las Vegas, and into a brand new life. Always a hard worker, Virginia soon had a job as a cook for the Union Pacific railroad. She was later to meet an elderly Nevada Judge, John Busteed who hired her as a housekeeper. Virginia became his friend and caregiver until his death, and as part of his estate, she inherited the property on between 9th and 10th on Fremont. By this time, Stella was working at Walker’s Laundry in Niagra Falls, a job that was to allow her to meet her future husband Joe Sobchik.

Stella and Joe, recently married, decided to give it a shot. So Virginia’s Café was born, with Joe and Stella manning the grill. This was during the war years, and because of food rationing, finding ingredients to serve was not the easiest thing for Joe and Stella. Still they made a go of it, serving food to the travelers that stopped for gas, and catering to the locals that would line up in front of the building for the popular Heldorado parade.

Eventually, Joe tired of cooking for the public, decided that they should close the Café and open a liquor store. Thus, Atomic Liquors was born with the first Liquor Store license in Las Vegas. Always looking to boost the income of the store and establish a more consistent clientele, Joe and Stella then purchased the liquor 'pouring' license from the Lido Lounge which was closing in a downtown casino. This allowed them to augment their takeout trade with beer, wine and mixed drinks served over the counter while becoming the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas. This endeavor also created an entirely new type of liquor sale license called 'The Tavern License' in which Atomic was issued the first ever License #00001.

In it's heyday, the Atomic had a local, working class, clientele that was bolstered by regular visits from celebrities looking to avoid the attention they attracted on the strip or Downtown. The likes of the Rat Pack, Barbara Streisand, the Smothers Brothers, Clint Eastwood and other notable characters could be seen enjoying their favorite beverage and playing a friendly game of pool after their shows or productions. Barbra Steisand even noted in her book that she was a regular, stopping in on every trip to shoot pool and chat with her friend Stella. The Atomic was open 24 hours a day and drew quite a crowd of casino workers looking to enjoy themselves after their shifts, stating that, "you never know who might stop by."

The Guantlet, an episode of the original "The Twilight Zone" and parts of the movie Casino were filmed inside the Atomic as well inside the adjacent garage which served as a production studio for Martin Scorsese and crew for more than a month. Most recently the Atomic can be seen in the famous car crash scene in the movie The Hangover.


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