Phoenix on Main Street: Pam & Christina Dylag’s Velveteen Rabbit

dylagsWith East Fremont steadily sprouting new bars, restaurants, and other small businesses, we’re thrilled to see promising new ventures bloom in other parts of Las Vegas’s urban core. One of the most hotly anticipated new enterprises is Pamela and Christina Dylag’s Velveteen Rabbit, coming soon to 1218 S. Main Street, in the heart of the 18b Arts District.

If you’ve recently wandered by, the lounge’s exterior may have struck you as little more than the deserted shell of a flambéed furniture store—which it once was. Formerly the home of Alex Rivas Upholstery, the building was heavily damaged in a July 2010 fire; the third such fire following an early morning transformer explosion that rocked the Arts District and damaged a number of buildings in the vicinity.

Of course, appearances can be deceiving—a maxim that applies as much to the establishment as its owners. Just as an astonishing transformation is steadily taking place behind Velveteen Rabbit’s fire-scarred façade, the Dylag sisters’ fresh young faces belie unexpectedly wise, well-traveled service industry pros… with the dedication and ferocity to raise their dream from literal ashes. “There are definitely a number of people who have questioned us—and still question us—mainly due to our age,” explains Christina, 25. “It’s not so much an issue, as it is a motivation to produce an amazing product.”

And to think: it almost didn’t happen—at least, not here. Like so many Valley-bred millennials, Pam and Christina Dylag left Las Vegas after high school—largely because they felt the kind of culture they sought didn’t exist here in their hometown. Traveling the world, they not only discovered the culture and sense of community they were looking for, but came to understand that the key to making it happen here in Las Vegas was… well, making it happen here in Las Vegas. “It is so important to have a strong and thriving arts community in the center of the city,” says Christina. “We grew up [here] and really want to give something back, to create a better city and a stronger sense of community.”

Clearly inspired by their bar’s namesake, the classic children’s novel about a stuffed rabbit’s quest to become real, the duo have certainly taken the book’s central theme (the transformative power of love) to heart. Despite extensive due diligence, the first-time business owners have weathered their fair share of challenges in breathing life into their creation, including complex and costly permitting, code, and compliance requirements and processes. But they persevered with the support of the neighborhood, friends and family, and even the City itself, which has awarded their efforts with two separate grants.

Two years in the making, the concept for Velveteen Rabbit first came to Christina during a meditation retreat in Thailand, but took hold when sister Pam enthusiastically agreed to the partnership. The pair have since been closely involved in every aspect of the project, from its design, permitting, and construction, right down to selecting the mismatched thrift store glassware and concocting all of their own house-made infusions, syrups, and bitters. Art abounds, including two mirrored mosaics (made by the sisters themselves), a planned video installation, and other pieces by local artists. Décor-wise, the room’s eclectic, speakeasy style—a whimsical mix of thrift score Victoriana and hipster handicraft—lends an accessible, yet fanciful vibe that will certainly appeal to those who appreciate classic cocktails and other artfully crafted, lounge-y libations.

The Velveteen Rabbit’s full menu is not yet available, but the Dylags are promising a large selection of affordable drinks, including exciting and unique beer selections. To whet your appetite, they’ve shared their take on a classic cocktail.

VD_bloodandsandBlood Orange & Sand
3/4 oz. Ballantine’s Blended Scotch
3/4 oz. Dolin Rouge sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Cherry Heering liqueur
3/4 oz. blood orange juice

Shake all ingredients together with ice, strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with a dried orange wheel. Best while viewing the cocktail’s namesake.

Velveteen Rabbit
Opening March 2013
1218 S. Main Street

  • Adrienne

    I can’t wait to check it out. I have a business in that area and just love that area.