Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for July, 2010

Free business idea – serious coffee in Las Vegas

Posted by shannonclark on July 20, 2010

I was in Las Vegas last week for my friend Tara Hunt‘s birthday, a bunch of her friends from all over the world gathered in Las Vegas for a few days of celebration. The full tales of the revels are the subject for another post (and for someone else to write, alas a bout of allergies meant I missed the Karaoke at 2am in a Vegas suite).

But while I was in Vegas, staying at the Mandalay Bay, I found myself curiously surprised by the lack of good coffee anywhere along the strip. I was told about The Beat Coffeehouse in downtown Las Vegas but didn’t manage to make it there. Apparently they are a true Third Wave coffeehouse, they roast their own beans and take their coffee very seriously.

However within the major casinos along the strip the coffee of choice appears to be Starbucks and even the coffee served at the high end restaurants which I was fortunate enough to try wasn’t very good by San Francisco standards. The Mandalay Bay in particular is already the home of some of the most famous and best chefs from San Francisco (MIchael Mina, Herbert Keller etc).

So here is my, freely offered, business idea.

Open up a Las Vegas branch of a serious, third wave coffee roaster. From San Francisco I’d suggest Blue Bottle, but Ritual Roasters, Four Barrel, Sightglass or from around the bay Mr. Espresso, Verve, or Barefoot Coffee Roasters would all be great options. Intelligentsia from Chicago & LA or Stumptown from Portland (and now NYC) would be other great choices.

What I would envision would be with some Las Vegas style & flair. The main location would include an onsite roaster and serious baristas and one cup at a time brewing. But given that this is Las Vegas I’d also imagine letting the Baristas have free reign to create adult coffee based beverages (i.e. in many cases with alcohol) and I would imagine that this space would be open 24hrs a day and ideally should have wifi and in the case of the Mandalay Bay have some business services available (private meeting rooms perhaps?). I’d also suggest that the roaster then provide coffee (and perhaps barista services/training) to the restaurants in that hotel as well as open up some kiosks to serve coffee at peak times (which in Vegas might be starting early and ending fairly late).

Done well this location might then be a natural location to host barista competitions and for serious coffee cuppings and for guest baristas to show off what they can create.

It would certainly also improve my next Las Vegas trip (since I don’t do much gambling or drinking, Vegas isn’t exactly my first choice though the shows & food are good).

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Blogging with a computer

Posted by shannonclark on July 14, 2010

I am in Las Vegas for the next couple of days, here to celebrate with my friend Tara Hunt her birthday. She has brought together a group of her friends from all over the world and together we are spending sometime in what is perhaps my least favorite city but much improved by the company of friends.

As I packed for my short trip I debated about whether or not to bring my new MacBook Pro with me. It is a fantastic new machine and working on it still feels more like play than work. But if I had brought it I would have to watch it, would have to secure it when I joined the group at a cabana by the pool or went to a show (Ka tomorrow evening).

So instead I decided to only bring my iPhone 4 (along with bumper case – I haven’t had any antenna problems other than AT&T’s usual horrible service and dropped calls). I didn’t even bring my trusty and fairly new Panasonic Lumix.

As you can see from the photo, taken of the Irish band that played while er had dinner this evening, the iPhone 4 does indeed shoot well in low light and with the right apps – such as the WordPress app I’m using now – is a very powerful tool for new media creation.

I don’t know how many more posts I’ll write this week – mostly this is a vacation and though every move is likely documented by cameras, tweets and foursquare checkins in this particular crowd my focus this week is on catching up with my friends and making new friends.

But as I work on a new venture around helping game companies (mostly online social game companies) make more money there are a lot of lessons big and small I am seeing in how casinos (ie “gaming”) work here in Las Vegas.

Where the gaming is a bit less social though the social aspects are important and where the rewards are mostly very simple – cold, hard cash.

But I can also see that with casinos such as the Mandalay Bay Resort gambling is no longer the only (and indeed perhaps not the major) source of revenues for these establishments. Clearly food, drinks and entertainment as well as the hotel rooms themselves are now also significant revenue streams and may actually often be more profitable than gaming.

I haven’t been back to Las Vegas in a few years I think it may have been nearly four years and even in that short of a time it is clear that a lot has changed. As I sit here writing this post I am seeing a lot more people dressed (well barely in the case of many of the women) for a nightclub.

At the same time the poker rooms I have passed have been very full (since the World Series of Poker (wsop.com) is ongoing this doesn’t surprise me. But while much of Las Vegas depresses me at least with poker real actual skill is present.

I may try to catch some of the WSOP tomorrow after I tire of lounging poolside or swimming.

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