Oscar Goodman Tells It Like It Is! (Exclusive Interview with the former Mayor of Las Vegas!)


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(By Dianne R. Davis)

(Feb 12, 2012) Former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman may be out of office, but it seems unlikely that this controversial former attorney will ever be out of the spotlight. Goodman once called himself “the happiest Mayor in the universe”, and there is little doubt that he accomplished many tasks during his tenure in the Mayor’s seat. In his case, his seat was more of a throne that he was able to occupy for 12 years thanks to his landslide-victories of three consecutive terms.

Since leaving office in 2011, Oscar has lent his name to a new restaurant, the aptly named Oscar’s, located in the Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. He has also lent some of his photos, caricatures, and memorabilia to the eatery. If you have the opportunity to greet him in his office, located behind the bar, close to the Bombay Sapphire Gin – his drink of choice, you’ll even find his throne!

This week will also see the opening of The Mob Museum in downtown Las Vegas on Feb 14th. While this is another pet-project of Goodman’s, his unique involvement with the museum may surprise you! Goodman is a busy guy, and he took time out of his schedule to sit down with VegasAllNight. Here is our conversation…

At an age when most people retire, you seem to be running full speed ahead. Why?

OG: I love Las Vegas, and I will never retire as long as I am thoroughly enjoying life. I appreciate the opportunity to be the ambassador for Las Vegas and welcome people to this remarkable city, and especially to Oscar’s – where they can relax with their friends and family and enjoy themselves over a great meal and the best drinks.

What attracted you to the idea of lending your name and reputation to the new restaurant, Oscar’s, at the Plaza?

OG: I have always dreamed of having a little speakeasy in downtown Las Vegas where I could hang out with the great people of Las Vegas after I finished my term as Mayor. Even when I was active as an attorney, I thought it’d be great to open a place like that, but I just never got around to it. I wanted the place to be special, where people could have fun, relax and enjoy a great drink. After I finished my term as mayor, I began talking with the owner and management of the Plaza, and they offered me the opportunity to open my speakeasy, a great bar and a steakhouse inside the iconic dome. It sounded like the perfect opportunity.

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Have a drink at Oscars! (Photo of the bar @ Oscars courtesy of Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas)

What makes Oscar’s unique? How does it reflect Oscar Goodman?

OG: The restaurant represents me in many ways. I wanted the style of the décor of Oscar’s to be classy yet comfortable, and the speakeasy to be dark and intimate. And the menus were designed around the various characters I have represented as an attorney, like Tony “The Ant” Spilotro and Herbert “Fat Herbie” Blitzstein. The restaurants pay homage to the fascinating and unique history of Las Vegas, as well as my own. We are exhibiting much of the memorabilia from my years as an attorney and mayor.

Will the brand “Oscar’s” be identified with any other ventures in the future?

OG: Who knows where this will take us. The owner of the Plaza, who is an international entrepreneur, envisions “Oscar’s” in New York and London in the foreseeable future….we shall see!

What do you consider to have been the high point of your years as the happiest Mayor of the greatest city in the world?

OG When the city of Las Vegas acquired the sixty one acre-parcel (now known as Symphony Park) right in the heart of downtown, without resorting to eminent domain, I knew we assured the future venue of great academic medicine, world-class culture center and the home of a major league franchise. It got no better then that!

Any plans to re-enter politics?

OG: Never say never, but right now I am vicariously enjoying Carolyn’s success as Mayor. [Editor’s note: Carolyn Goodman successfully campaigned and was elected to succeed her spouse as Mayor of Las Vegas. She is currently serving in that position.]

You’ve certainly had an interesting life thus far. Is there anything you would change if you could?

OG: My wife Carolyn and I are about to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary…I wished I had married her earlier.

How do you relax?

OG: A martini in my backyard next to my koi pond, watching the television my wife bought me which is outdoors as well showing a sporting event on which I have a bet. That is my favorite moment.

What involvement, if any, will you have with the Mob Museum? Is it meeting your hopes and expectations?

OG: I have been ordained a minister to conduct weddings at the Mob Museum – that should be fun. But the proof will be in the pudding – if 500,000 visitors frequent the museum the first year, it will have satisfied my goal of bringing a critical mass of folks in our downtown.

What’s next for you? New goals? New hobbies? New travel?

OG: Just doing what I do: having a good time, tell those I love that I love them and make people who are around me happy.

How much Bombay Gin do you really drink in the average week?

OG: A bottle a night, therefore, seven bottles every week!

Do you have a favorite charity?

OG: I have a weak spot for children. Therefore, I favor children’s charities. In addition, one of my children is an oncologist who does cancer research and I am very supportive of him.

If you were speaking at a college graduation, what advice would you give?

OG: Always be true to your own principals. Don’t let the naysayers get you down. Look people in the eye and tell them the truth.

Thanks for answering our questions Oscar!

Well, it looks like we have the truth from this colorful Las Vegas iconic figure. This writer looks forward to following the future adventures of former Mayor Oscar Goodman as he blazes new trails…

Dianne Davis also shares her interviews, reviews, and other wisdom with lasvegasroundtheclock.com,vegasnewschannel.com , and The Vegas Voice newspaper. She is also a reporter on Anthem Alive on Channel 99/980 in Las Vegas specializing in entertainment and other leisure activities.