The man behind some of Las Vegas’ most popular megaclubs is returning to West Hollywood.
Victor Drai, the man behind Tryst and XS in Las Vegas, has partnered with ESquared Hospitality to open a new “modern, sexy steakhouse” called “Rare” in the former BLT Steak LA space at 8720 Sunset Blvd. just west of Sunset Plaza.
Rumors recently swirled around where Drai’s namesake Hollywood club Drai’s, which opened atop the W Hotel at Hollywood and Vine in 2010, would relocate.
The relocation to WeHo marks a homecoming for the nightlife impresario.
In 1993, Drai opened up a French restaurant (Drai’s) in the space now occupied by the restaurant Koi at 730 N. La Cienega Blvd. at Waring. It quickly became a celebrity mecca before it closed in November 1998.
In 1997, Drai expanded to Las Vegas, opening Drai’s on the Strip.
Drai took on a much higher profile nearly a decade later when Steve Wynn, the business magnate who played a huge role in the 1990s’ resurgence of the Las Vegas Strip, turned to Drai to create the nightlife at his hotels, Wynn and Encore. Drai created Tryst, which opened in August 2005 in Wynn hotel, and XS, which opened at Encore hotel in December 2008.
As far as BLT, the steakhouse has locations in 11 other cities in the United States and Puerto Rico. The West Hollywood location opened in 2008 to great fanfare. But famed chef Laurent Tourondel, from whose initial the BLT logo is derived, split with partner Jimmy Haber in 2010 and went out on his own. Tourondel kept the rights to the BLT brand, which Haber licensed from him.
The restaurant was as famed for its popovers as its steak. Restaurant critic Jonathan Gold, then writing for LA Weekly, praised Tourondel as “one of the best chefs of his generation.” But Gold went on to criticize BLT’s execution of Tourondel’s menu. “…The ability to run one brilliant restaurant is different from the ability to run 20 brilliant restaurants,” he wrote, in a reference to BLT’s rapid expansion.