8:08 a.m. Like it would be on any added Friday morning, the Peppermill is packed. I bound into one of the few accessible seats at the counter. Jennifer, a waitress actuality for 17 years, brings coffee. Do I appetite French-vanilla cream, too? Sure. Today is special, as I’ll be spending the absoluteness central this archetypal restaurant and its kitschy, admirable lounge.
“Yeah? Accompany it on!” Jennifer cheers, her astonishing advantage killing the cliché of the bad-tempered berth waitress.
8:30 a.m. The bang of ample plates and atypical able of food-heavy ones hitting Formica is connected and energizing. Peggy, the accepted manager, is aerial aback and forth, and I get her absorption for a quick hello. She’s a affectionate woman, and she thinks I’m crazy. She’s been actuality four decades and loves her job. She’s had offers to assignment elsewhere, at newer restaurants central comfortable hotels, “but I aloof couldn’t do it,” she says.
8:43 a.m. My aliment is delicious. It’s Munch’s Breakfast—three eggs over a assortment of potatoes, peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese and Portuguese pork sausage. Peppermill aliment is big food, boss portions with aural flavor, which is why so abounding bodies bethink these commons and accumulate advancing back.
To my larboard are a brace of first-timers, guys in their backward 20s who actual acutely overdid it aftermost night. They anniversary adjustment a Scorpion, the signature 64-ounce cocktail, a pink-orange troublemaker absolute six shots of altered liquors. And they appetite them attenuated with ice cream.
8:54 a.m. The man to my appropriate is a local. I bang up a chat and ascertain he’s a arresting economist. Meanwhile, the Scorpion brothers are application adulate knives to cut the crazy-long red straws in their drinks.
9:32 a.m. The 10 cooks abaft the band are in connected motion. They agitate out face-sized pancakes and football-sized omelets with alarming speed. Beginning bake-apple comes out, not so abundant a bowl as a abundance of intricately broken food. A waitress whisks it away, no problem, aloof a cautiously counterbalanced accumulation of aftermath amid four added abundant dishes.
9:48 a.m. Bill is from Brownsville, Texas, and he’s a blessed guy with white beard and a Captain Kangaroo mustache. “You can adjustment annihilation here, because it’s all good,” he says. He’s been advancing to the Peppermill for six years aback in boondocks for an anniversary convention, and he generally eats actuality alert a day. We allocution about how Peggy is accomplishing everything, alike admitting she’s in charge. “That’s how you accumulate everybody happy,” Bill says. There’s annihilation like this abode in Texas.
10:38 a.m. It’s time to retire to the lounge for the aboriginal time today. I blast into a daybed and cull out my laptop to booty affliction of some morning business. It feels awe-inspiring blockage email here.
I aloof accept anybody has been to the Fireside Lounge, absolutely one of the best iconic confined in Las Vegas. The cautiously lit amplitude is all low-slung, rose-colored sofas and marble octagon tables. Anniversary has a tiny canteen of honey-roasted peanuts, and appropriate now is the aboriginal time I’ve eaten one. The aforementioned redpink-purpleblue neon tubes that band the dining allowance chase about this mirrorball ceiling, too, set off by afflicted close plants and abounding TV screens arena an amaranthine alternative of absolutely odd music and concert videos, actuality you allegedly won’t see anywhere else. Of course, there’s the blaze pit, a ablaze dejected basin with a blaze beginning in the middle, the abominable atom that backdropped that abundant arena in Bank aback De Niro is cozying up to Sharon Stone.
I adulation this place, but it makes me wonder: Has active in Vegas for so abounding years absolutely angled my sensibilities? Am I tacky? Cheesy? How could this accept become my normal? The added bodies are actuality because they’re cat-and-mouse for a table for breakfast. No one abroad is typing.
11:00 a.m. I adjustment a whiskey sour, because that was my aboriginal acknowledged drink, captivated in 1997 in what is now the Oceano Bar at the Peppermill in Reno, a hotel-casino with its own Fireside Lounge. There’s a Peppermill resort in Wendover, too. Amid its six properties, the aggregation additionally operates the Rainbow Club in Henderson, which I anon appetite to appointment already I apprehend the connection.
I’ve been activity to a Peppermill for bisected my life—all-night abstraction sessions abstraction for academy exams at the coffee boutique in Reno, and afore that, ancestors faux-vacations at the long-gone Peppermill resort in Mesquite, and weekend brunches actuality on the Strip. Little sister consistently acclimation the bake-apple bloom served in a pineapple baiter with sherbet. Me, maybe a shrimp cocktail or a French dip. This was as abundant Vegas as an 11-year-old could handle, neon and absorb as aperture drugs.
11:32 a.m. Aback in the restaurant, there’s a 30-minute delay for a table, and there are six beefy bros in the aboriginal booth, agronomics through pancakes and paninis. No agnosticism they’re acute a adventuresome weekend.
12:09 p.m. JoAnn, abettor manager, says the Peppermill stays this active Thursday through Monday, with alike busier weekend mornings. She started as a breakfast waitress in the ’80s. “Sometimes I accept bodies appear in and say they bethink me from aback then, and admonish me I acclimated to abrasion that outfit,” she says, apropos to the electric blue, skirt-and-suspenders jumper. She rolls her eyes. “Don’t alike go there!”
When it opened on December 26, 1972, the Peppermill had orange abandoned carpeting and afflicted covering booths, and waitresses wore orange and white uniforms with the aforementioned abbreviate skirts. A 1986 makeover—the abandoned one—added the cottony plants and faux blooming blossoms, aglow mauveness and adapted outfits. The lounge waitresses, however, still abrasion low-cut, floor-length atramentous gowns. As a kid bistro sandwiches here, the abandoned affair added alluring than the appealing adult refilling my Coke was the added appealing adult in atramentous amphibian through the allowance with a tray of bright cocktails. Mesmerizing is allegedly the appropriate word.
12:50 p.m. No amount what time or day, this restaurant consistently offers the best amazing mix of people. Appropriate now, there’s a accumulation of boyish girls cutting analogous blooming soccer warm-ups; a tattooed, rockabilly brace that could be beeline from a awakening photo shoot; the bigger handlebar mustache and cowboy hat admixture ever, and a brace of middle-aged ladies on their anniversary girls-only alliance trip. And that’s aloof one row of booths.
1:10 p.m. I grab a bench at the adverse for cafeteria aing to an beforehand admirer spooning crème brûlée and cat-and-mouse for a takeout adjustment he’ll bear to his accumulation of conventioneers aing aperture at the Riviera. Peggy reels off his order: “Another pastrami aureate onion rings pickle! Another BLT aureate fries!” Waitress Kathy helps accompany over the aliment and chats him up, adage she’s additionally from New York. Peggy interjects: “She’s been actuality with me for at atomic a decade, but she still says she’s from New York. Sooner or afterwards she has to stop adage that.” Kathy anon breach into song: “Sooner or later, adulation is gonna get ya … I got a song for everything.” I accept her.
1:39 p.m. I’m alive my way through the Conquest, a affably blowzy buzz beef sandwich. The guy who adapted it, Rob, hovers over me mid-bite. “That one’s good. It’s like the kitchen sink.”
He’s a cyclone on the flat-top grill, casting blubbery slabs of French acknowledgment through the air, strategically ladling adulate actuality and there, spatula-slicing sandwiches and managing those huge pancakes. In autograph about restaurants and chefs over the years, I’ve abstruse how important abridgement of movement is in the kitchen, alive fast and clean. Fine-dining chefs aren’t the abandoned ones with such skills.
2:03 p.m. Abettor chef Dre is giving me a back-of-house bout while a commitment takes place, and I’m aggravating to breach out of the way. These massive aliment drops appear at atomic three times a week, refilling six applicant refrigerators and assorted dry-storage areas. The kitchen, basic and accumulator spaces aren’t small, but the restaurant does so abundant aggregate it seems like aggregate is emptied and refilled constantly.
Dre has been in Vegas for 15 years. His aboriginal restaurant job was at Wendy’s. He started actuality as a part-time baker and formed his way up, accepted convenance at the Peppermill. “What I didn’t apperceive as a baker was how abundant aggregate matters. Every little detail. Not actuality wasteful. Accepting forth with the crew.” Best of the kitchen agents has been about for 10 years or longer. Aback I appear out of their space, I ascertain a tiny, hidden, makeshift breach room.
“This is a fast restaurant,” waitress Angela says, “and we accept to eat fast, too.”
3:38 p.m. It’s as quiet as it’s activity to get. No one’s at the restaurant counter, but the dining allowance is still added than bisected full. I’m sitting in the lobby, and a hostess in a close flower-print shirt is attractive at me like I’m nuts, allegedly apprehensive if I’m anytime activity to leave.
4:00 p.m. The aboriginal about-face is over, and some of the aggregation associates are sitting at the bar accepting a beer or smoke or bottomward a few dollars into the slots. I’m bubbler an icy Bud Light with Rob, the artisan baker from Detroit, San Diego and added places. He brand the fast clip in the Peppermill kitchen, allegedly because he’s fast, too. “The Conquest is one of the hardest sandwiches to make, because the bacon is over there but the mushrooms are over there … it’s complicated.” He’s abandoned been actuality two years but can see blockage a while. Vegas is fun. “Get done on Saturday, go bottomward the Strip or to Fremont Street, get home on Monday, do laundry, appear back, alpha afresh on Tuesday.”
5:15 p.m. The central lights I adulation so abundant are consistently on, but the alfresco ones aloof came on.
5:49 p.m. The early-bird banquet blitz is on, and anticipation from the cardinal of hunting vests and camo caps in the dining room, these association are from the gun appearance at the Riv. Tables are covered mostly with burgers and fries, but one arty man is advancing a cossack accumulated aerial with aerated chrism and blatant sprinkles.
6:39 p.m. The blaze pit, which seats about 10, is abounding of women. Two accept been there at atomic two hours, acutely afflicted in activity conversations, alloyed drinks and absurd appetizers. I appetite to acquisition out who they are and area they’re from, but I apperceive better. I’ve done that, the altercation by the fire. This abode affectionate of coaxes it out of you, or maybe it’s the drinks.
7:14 p.m. Somehow, their chat has acquired to the point area one adult has her shoes off and her socked anxiety up on the ledge by the fire. The balmy comforts of the lounge are authoritative it so actual difficult to footfall out for fresh-air breaks.
7:38 p.m. The baby bar in this boss enactment is powered by two bartenders and abandoned two or three cocktail waitresses confined the lounge and accustomed drinks to the restaurant. Appropriate now, Ruth is abaft the stick, an 8-year Peppermill veteran. Considering how abounding ample affair she has to make, things can get a bit agitated aback here.
A beautiful aggregation takes a booth. They’re acutely adolescent than the army in the restaurant, attractive bigger ill-fitted for a night at the Cosmopolitan or SLS. But their aboriginal annular of the night will be Mai Tais and Appletinis, not pricier ability affair at a air-conditioned bank bar. They’re headed to Wynn for banquet and clubbing, but they’re activity awakening to get their Vegas going.
7:58 p.m. Finally, a Luther Vandross video.
8:02 p.m. That adult still has her anxiety up.
8:07 p.m. Two chain-smoking, White Russian-swilling gals at the bar accept been aing by two devilish advisers they about absolutely met beforehand tonight. The new arrivals advertise themselves thusly: “You ability admit us from Nursing Home Orgies 4.” It is AVN weekend, afterwards all.
8:42 p.m. The added adult at the blaze pit has her anxiety up now.
9:49 p.m. My action to accomplish it through this chase was congenital on common visits through the day and night, but things fell apart. My cafeteria date no-showed, and my happy-hour date is active late. One of today’s discoveries is this: The aiguille of Las Vegas bareness is sitting in a berth abandoned in the Fireside Lounge aback the columnist who takes adventurous gift shots of couples comes around, looks at you and afresh silently walks away. But reinforcements assuredly arrive.
10:42 p.m. I cannot alcohol the Dejected Hawaiian appropriate now. It’s so sweet. I appetite it, but I’ve waited too long. I’ve collapsed abaft any reasonable Peppermill pace. I should be hardly sloshed, accessible and snacky. I’m not. I abscond the lounge for a fresh-air breach and then—Bill from Brownsville! He’s back, at the adverse bistro soup. I bandy my easily on his amateur like we’re old accompany and affright him. But he bound remembers me. He’s afraid I haven’t accustomed up yet.
11:05 p.m. The accumulation burst assimilate one daybed with me has become the biggest, loudest accumulation in the lounge. If I didn’t apperceive these people, I would beam and conceivably catechism them.
11:55 p.m. It’s club-sandwich time, so a few of us arch to the restaurant. The lounge lighting has afflicted my sight. Does the babe a few booths bottomward accept blush hair, or is it aloof a crazy absorption in the window? I knew things would get weird, and allegedly 16 hours is the mark. Be gentle, Peppermill.
1:15 a.m. I had two bites of sandwich. As they filed out of the building, my accompany anesthetized by our table, avaricious handfuls of fries.
In the lounge, an absolutely new accumulation has replaced us. In every nook, bodies are billowing into their seats and smiling. Two beforehand Cuban men are accepting a acrimonious chat at the bar, the blazon area you can’t acquaint if they’re blessed or angry, and their abundant adolescent changeable accompaniment is acrimonious at a abundance of nachos.
1:39 a.m. A asleep brace sit in a bend berth in the dining room, both cutting shorts and T-shirts, both absolutely blaze identical, gigantic ice chrism sundaes. It’s surreal.
1:49 a.m. Aback in the bar, Becky and Bill are cranking out affair as Ruth finishes her shift. I ask if the affair of the Fireside Lounge causes inappropriate behavior, if they anytime accept to bang out amative couples. “Not absolutely bang them out, added aloof go over there with an ice bucket,” Ruth says.
It dawns on me, as I anticipate craven wings, that admitting I’ve been actuality so abounding times with so abounding altered people, the abandoned date I’ve anytime brought is my admirable wife. I will accept to accomplish agenda of this in an accomplishment to account some credibility with her. I assumption I aloof did.
2:27 a.m. On the big awning in advanced of me and my wings, Gloria Estefan is benumbed beyond the date on a behemothic alligator.
Becky, who’s been actuality 15 years, is in a account aeon of three swingshifts and two graveyards. She brand the latter, because a lot of industry bodies appear in. Amazingly, she’s already prepping for the morning rush, authoritative abiding Bloody Mary actuality is stocked.
3:18 a.m. I was so analytical what the lounge army would attending like at this hour, but it’s slow—all the action’s in the restaurant. An active accumulation of post-club diners has arrived, three-piece suits, developed brawl dresses and lots of bedraggled makeup. Their orders are laughably insane. One quintet does turkey sausage with eggs, the Garden Omelet, the nachos, the backtalk cakes, angle and chips and a $35 canteen of Chandon. The diminutive, spiky-haired baton raises his accoutrements in achievement as the aliment arrives.
4:05 a.m. I’m a zombie. Destiny, the waitress who served my club sandwich, is concerned. “You’re aback again? You okay?” A new waitress, Alma, offers me a card aback I sit bottomward at the counter. “Not yet,” I say, and she looks me over, a aberrant scan. A cocktail server comes out of the lounge and checks on me, too.
Alma’s been actuality two years, consistently on the graveyard. “When I aboriginal started, you should accept apparent it. Bodies get crazy. But it’s Vegas.” She seems able of tolerating about anything, but I ability be the craziest being in the architecture now. Me from 20 hours ago would accept interviewed aberrant me, the abandoned man at the counter, acclimation annihilation to eat and sipping on a Pepsi. The Smeagol of the Peppermill.
4:48 a.m. Can I do the lounge? I can’t do the lounge. There’s a atom a the blaze and I appetite it so bad but … that ability be lights out. Time for some beginning air.
6:11 a.m. I’m accomplishing the lounge, and I’m kinda delirious. I’m sitting on the daybed aing the blaze pit, and my laptop is broadcasting the adventure of Comedians in Cars Accepting Coffee area Jerry Seinfeld and George Wallace go to the Peppermill. You should watch it. But I’m not watching it. I’m accepting animus on the Dejected Hawaiian, candied barbaric revenge, and acute whether I appetite French acknowledgment or a waffle.
6:38 a.m. The sun is not absolutely up. Anybody in the dining allowance looks like they aloof woke up. They don’t see me ambuscade through the blooming blossoms like a ghost. I sit at a table I haven’t been built-in at and delay for French acknowledgment I haven’t ordered.
6:45 a.m. Alma checks on me as she finishes her shift. I admiration if these super-nice bodies will be blessed to see me assuredly leave. “Do you do this a lot?” she asks. What, breach alive for 24 hours? No. Who does that? “I do. I accept kids.” I don’t. “You’re lucky.”
7:21 a.m. Rihanna is on in the lounge. Two behemothic men who assignment aegis at a Wynn bistro are sitting at the bar discussing religion, accurately whether either of them has any. At the blaze pit, two alluring women are scrunched deeply into the corner, texting swiftly, casting aback long, afflicted hair, demography tiny bites of a quesadilla. I’m sitting by the fire, too, so comfortable and asleep and blessed that I don’t apperceive why I would anytime leave this spot, and Zua is demography affliction of all of us.
I’m not alike abiding Zua is real. She says she’s been in Vegas all her activity but abandoned started alive at the Peppermill three months ago. She sits on the accomplish amid me and the strippers, I mean, dancers, and she charge be real—a breath of wild, coiled hair, affectionate eyes abaft thick-framed glasses, red lipstick. It’s her name that gets me. I accomplish her address it in my notebook: Zuayaremy. For real?
7:48 a.m. Rob the baker is aback for his aftermost about-face of the week, and he’s a little abashed to see me. My cold was artlessly to be actuality for 24 hours, watch what happens, beam and record, but I concluded up accomplishing what I consistently do at the Peppermill, what anybody does here. I airy and enjoyed myself, had some aliment and drinks and forgot about absolute life. It’s what Las Vegas is for.
8:08 a.m. Breakfast is ramping up. The hostesses accept been warned that a affair of 13 is incoming. I see the aforementioned waitresses from bygone accustomed the aforementioned plates of eggs and pancakes and assortment browns and bacon. It looks so good, I about appetite to breach and adjustment some.
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