Historic Atomic Liquors has new owners
PHOTO COURTESY OF DEREK STONEBARGERPhoto: Image by PHOTO COURTESY OF DEREK STONEBARGER
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- The historic Atomic Liquors on East Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas has new owners.
After being open for almost 60 years, Atomic Liquors closed its doors on Jan. 1, 2011.
It was abandoned for more than year but now it has new owners -- brothers Lance and Kent Johns and downtown business owner Derek Stonebarger.
Lance Johns is a partner at the Johns & Durrant law firm. Brother Kent is a real estate broker.
A liquor license sale and a building lease with an option to buy was signed last week.
The trio plan to light up the Atomic Liquors famous neon sign at 10:30 a.m. this Friday, June 22. A grand reopening is being planned for December.
Atomic Liquors' building was built in 1945. It was originally home to a cafe name Virginia's.
According to local legend, customers would watch atomic blasts while sipping cocktails from the building's rooftop in the early 1950s. The name was changed to Atomic Liquors in 1952.
It later received the first package liquor license and off-sales permit in Las Vegas in 1957.
Atomic Liquors was owned and operated by the same owners -- Joe and Stella Sobchik -- from the day it opened.
Joe Sobchik passed away Oct. 5, 2010, at the age of 91. The package store/bar closed the following January. Stella died Jan. 15, 2011 -- just three months after Joe passed away. They had been married for 68 years.
Since then, their son -- a technical aerospace engineer who lives in California -- has been looking for new owners that would keep the spirit of the place alive.
According to local legend, several members of the Rat Pack and Tom and Dick Smothers spent many a late night at Atomic Liquors after headlining shows on the Las Vegas Strip.
Barbara Streisand also would stop in and shoot pool and even had her own chair.
Atomic Liquors has also been featured in several television shows and movies including the Oscar-nominated crime epic "Casino." Several scenes were shot inside the bar.
The new owners are planning several renovations before Atomic Liquors re-opens later this year.
Plans include larger bathrooms and back-bar upgrades and an outdoor sitting area/beer garden.
The interior will celebrate the history of the bar and of Las Vegas. Ideas for themed areas include a Rat Pack Corner, the Smothers Brothers Alley, Barbara's Seat, Bugsy's Bar and Hangover Hideout.
Plans also include converting a 3,000-square-foot mechanics garage that is attached to the property into a spot for live events, including local and national bands.
Stonebarger, a filmmaker/artist and owner of the downtown arthouse theatre7, plans to show movies in the ample parking lot behind the building.
He hopes to feature test site footage, movies and commercials from that era, and newer local and national independent films.