Famed restaurant, featuring two bars of legendary design, shuttered over a decade, to be revived on its 40th anniversary May 16.
The finale of Liberace’s last international tour was in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the famous Tivoli Gardens Amusement Park, in 1983. So struck was Mr. Showmanship by the enchanting venue, among the oldest operating amusement parks in the world, that he paid tribute to it when got home.
Copenhagen’s Tivioli Gardens remain today an elaborate and magical celebration of the world’s cultural diversity. Hans Christian Anderson is known to have been a frequent visitor. Walt Disney was also inspired to build Disneyland on his trip to Tivoli. Likewise inspired, Liberace created his restaurant, named “Liberace’s Tivoli Gardens” upon his return home to Las Vegas. The restaurant was next door to the famed Liberace Museum at 1775 East Tropicana Avenue.
Liberace’s Tivoli Gardens was likely the first Las Vegas restaurant billed as “international gourmet cuisine.” it became the spot for Las Vegas society, and show business royalty. The venue featured a brick, indoor garden restaurant, with an elaborate English pub-style bar attached. He later added his legendary piano bar, a room completely surrounded with mirrored walls, and the music and Lyrics to I’ll be seeing you the finale of every Liberace show, encircling the room at the crown. Like the namesake in Europe, Liberace’s version was covered in dreamy, tiny lights. It became all the rage.
With his own Tivoli Gardens, Liberace had a home for the recipes he had published in Liberace Cooks, and a place to socialize easily with friends. He constructed an exceptional industrial kitchen, enhanced air conditioning ahead of its time, and brought in the greatest wood craftsmen in the world to build his English bar. He was, of course, a regular.
Growing ill in 1986, Liberace sold Tivoli Garden to another operator. Carluccio’s Tivoli Garden benefitted handsomely from the Liberace legacy, until 2010 when the Liberace Museum closed next door. Carluccio’s vacated in 2011, and the Liberace Foundation was forced to sell the building in 2013. A revolving door of tenants ever since have suffered from ill planning and poor funding. By 2023, the place was vacant, the roof damaged, the interior in perilous disrepair. That’s when Pancho’s Vegan Cantina owner Sacbe Meling began seeking more space.
Mr. Meling’s firm owns vegan restaurants and bars as well as a catering company and other support operations. He took a long-term lease on the location and made careful, preservation-minded repairs, then contacted the Liberace Foundation when the organization followed him on the social networks. Finding himself on the same page as the Foundation’s board, a deal was struck to license Mr. Meling’s firm, attaching the original name of “Liberace’s Tivoli Garden.” The interior completely restored, the Foundation is designing and installing the interior with authentic artifacts and images, bringing back the historic location with an eye toward a new era. Sacbe sums up the motivation, “From the moment I walked in here, I knew I was on Las Vegas entertainment holy ground. This place is very much still Liberace’s. I knew instantly we had to save it”
With the time to fully investigate the construction of this legendary place, much provenance was uncovered. The story of the origin of the bars, their design, and the restaurant itself has been dramatically corrected in the annals of history in the Liberace story. “The truth, in Las Vegas, is always far stranger than fiction,” says Liberace Foundation Chairman Jonathan Warren, “This is yet another perfect example. The origin story of the place as recorded by the Foundation originally, was all wrong. The real one will astound.”
With additional theming by the Liberace Foundation as designed by Paulina Biggs Sparkuhl, Liberace’s Tivoli Garden will first welcome guests with a cocktail hour soft opening for Liberace Foundation supporters on May 16, 2023, Liberace’s 104th anniversary, and the 40th anniversary of his opening of the original restaurant. This elegant cocktail will be hosted by Susan Liberace, Liberace Foundation Chairman Jonathan Warren and other members of the Board of Directors of the Liberace Foundation, designer Paulina Biggs Sparkuhl, and Sacbe Meling. The event adds to the other events of Liberace Legacy Week, which features the main event, Liberace’s 104th Birthday Celebration, the following evening at Alexis Park. Ticket holders to the 17th are invited to the private opening on the 16th at Tivoli Garden.
This authentic vintage Vegas historic environment will be available through the Liberace Foundation for private events, while welcoming casual diners to its vegan menu daily.
For more information to the May 16 soft opening, or to inquire about events at Liberace’s Tivoli Garden, contact Jonathan Warren at 702-330-4225 or email@example.com
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