Jay Sarno Jr., son of Caesars Palace founder Jay Sarno, visited Apostrophe Bar at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Wednesday, November 26.
Joined by wife Julie and their son Ray, Sarno enjoyed the “Sarno” cocktail and toasted to his father and the drink’s namesake, Jay Sarno.
Apostrophe Bar’s name nods back to 1966 when prior to opening, Jay Sarno removed the apostrophe from the name “Caesar’s Palace” to suggest there was no “one” Caesar, but every guest would be treated like an emperor.
Jay Sarno (July 2, 1922 – July 21, 1984) was an American business entrepreneur who owned several high-profile hotels. He was the founder of both the Caesars Palace hotel and the Circus Circus, and many credit him with being the father of today’s more family-oriented Las Vegas. Ironically, although Sarno seemed to believe that Las Vegas could survive with fewer gamblers and more families visiting, he was himself a gambler. His former wife, Joyce Sarno Keys, once declared that, during one day of gambling, Sarno won 100,000 dollars, only to leave the same night with a debt of exactly that same amount.
Jay Sarno wanted a hotel whose name would sound European, yet at the same time appeal to Americans, and, in 1964, he, alongside Mallin and Harris, began to build the Caesars Palace Hotel. The idea was at first met with skepticism, because many considered a European style hotel in the middle of an American desert to be a business failure in the making.
Harris, however, designed the hotel in a way that each of its amenities had to be approached by passing the hotel’s casino first; this, in turn, would lead to people being tempted to try their luck in the casino area, which made the hotel a profitable business venture. The Caesars Palace hotel was inaugurated in 1966; by 1969, Jay Sarno and his business partners were able to sell the property for the amount of 60 million dollars.
Jay Sarno and Mallin then opened what was one of Las Vegas’ first family oriented venues, the Circus Circus. The attraction featured a circus tent with daily acts, and Sarno would dress up as a ringmaster and attend to families and children personally.
The Circus Circus was not a hotel when Jay Sarno and Mallin opened it: instead, it was a casino with, as its name implies, a circus. Sarno’s idea was that, while children could go and use their money having fun at the circus’ their parents, likewise, would use the money at the casino. But soon, a Gas crisis began in the United States, affecting tourism to Las Vegas, and the casino did not do well under Sarno and Mallin’s leadership, so Bill Pennington and Bill Bennett, a Del Webb executive, leased the Circus Circus.
After retiring from the Circus Circus, Jay Sarno spent the rest of his time teaching would-be hotel owners about how to manage that type of business, and dreaming about a new hotel venture, which would have been called the “Grandissimo”. One of his students was Steve Wynn, who would later on become the owner of the Golden Nugget and the creator/owner of The Mirage Hotel, Treasure Island, and Wynn Las Vegas. Sarno could not complete his dream of opening the “Grandissimo”; death surprised him during the planning stages of what would have been his third business venture in Las Vegas. – Wikipedia