Wolfgang Puck Players Locker evolved serendipitously last year by the fortuitous convergence of two groups with similar goals, pun intended. Vegas Golden Knights’ star winger Alex Tuch was keenly interested in starting his own sports bar in the Summerlin area where he could pursue his second favorite passion, the restaurant business. Through a mutual friend, Tommie Battaglia, he asked me to explore a few possible locations, but all proved problematic. At the same time, my long-time Puck partner, pun again intended, David Robins and I were doing our own exploration as to how we could reimagine our Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Downtown Summerlin. After five years, we wanted to create something new that would complement our location adjacent to City National Arena and the Las Vegas Ballpark. To the best of my recollection, Tommie and I literally called each other at the same time one day in June and said, “let’s do a restaurant together”!
Wolfgang was immediately on board with the concept. As one of the foremost culinary innovators and restaurant creators of his generation, this was an entirely new experience that he could develop. He had met Alex, just 22 at the time, in the Knights’ inaugural season while doing a promotional on-ice hockey tutorial. Not only was Wolfgang impressed with Alex’s his laser slap shot, but also his gregarious demeanor, confidence, and humor. Why not introduce a first-of-its-kind sports restaurant with active professional players while serving excellent food and beverages at a fair price where guests can watch games on tastefully distributed screens in a comfortable environment with friends and family?
Alex made a few calls and soon all-star teammates Deryk Engelland, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Shea Theodore joined as partners in the new venture. Along with Puck’s existing partners and a new group of investors culled by Steve Kennedy, Wolfgang Puck Player Locker was launched. After a complete restaurant remodel and much fanfare, the “Locker” doors opened in late January 2020 followed by a grand opening gala in late February attended by most of the Knights.
Wolfgang Puck Players Locker was warmly welcomed by the community and it instantly established itself as “the” hockey hot spot. All the ingredients aligned. With Puck’s tenured team at the stoves and in the dining room customers embraced the new menu which included sports-oriented items and inventive dishes. In addition, the beverage menu grew significantly featuring cocktails curated by the players themselves such as the Tuch Barrel-Aged Manhattan with his blend of rye and sweet vermouth and the Theodore Mule with Stolichnaya vodka, lime and ginger beer.
Guests genuinely feel being part of the team as the environment not only subtly showcases signed player jerseys and action photographs, but also a stunning, monumental wall of “Players Lockers” at the restaurant’s entrance greets them upon arrival; 100 custom glass lockers feature an impressive selection of high-end spirits, some of which have been handpicked by Wolfgang. Joining Puck and the five players are other big-name celebrities including Shaquille O’Neal, Wayne Gretzky, Shane Victorino, Vince Neil, and Vegas Golden Knights owner, Bill Foley, each of whom has a dedicated locker. In addition, the private dining room has been renamed the “Player’s Lounge” and used for special team member gatherings.
But perhaps the single most important reason the restaurant has become a hot spot is that the player-owners and other teammates frequent the restaurant on their off days, after a game, or for a family occasion. While it is not a daily occurrence given their travel and training schedules guests are often surprised when they see the players dining. Alex himself has been known to work the room, stopping by every table, always humble and affable, and taking pictures and signing autographs.