HOT GUYS OF VEGAS – Danny Wilkinson Grows in ‘The Garden’


From Hard-bodied Scholar To beefcake Bartender, a Las Vegas Resident Learns To Roll With The Punches…

Even if you’ve never seen the 1983 film FLASHDANCE, you certainly know the premise: “Welder by day, exotic dancer by night”. It seems as though there are plenty of scenarios like that in Las Vegas. This year, COVID-19’s destructive path has shifted career goals, altered destinies, and destroyed lifelong dreams. But it has also allowed resourceful people to excel at things they’d never considered before.

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One such survivor is Las Vegas resident Danny Wilkinson. This resilient 31-year-old learned the hard way that personal growth is no longer an option but a necessity. That’s how the Mesa, AZ native found himself as a staffer at The Garden, Las Vegas Art District‘s newest sensation.

It’s unlikely that Danny ever expected that his career path would lead him behind the bar of an LGBTQ hotspot. With an MBA from Western Governors University and a BS in kinesiology, he had worked his way through the ranks of Amazon.com‘s local distribution center to become a mid-level manager.

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Alas, cost-cutting at the wildly-successful online retailer led to some pre-COVID layoffs (ironic now in hindsight). Sadly, Wilkinson was part of a group that got their pink slips. So what’s a straight, educated hunk to do for employment during a pandemic? Well, you take the advice of friends who suggest marketing your impressive physique to the local gay bars.

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When nightlife wizard Eduardo Cordova announced a casting call for “model servers” and “model bartenders”, Danny showed up to The Garden with a winning smile and gym credentials in hand (or under his shirt, in this case). Asked why he wanted to work at The Garden, Wilkinson candidly answered “My gay friends think I’m cute!”.

If you remember my article on “Men of the Garden“, you’ll notice that Danny wasn’t included. He’s not quite as “showy” as some of the other boys. He’s more likely to kindle a slow burn…one that gets hotter upon return visits. Clever, observant, and genuine, he leaves a lasting impression with casual conversation and a laser-sharp gaze. Mandatory facial coverings can’t conceal that radiant smile, either.

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It took a long time for this article to come to fruition. Several months into the idea, Danny and I finally sat down for drinks and to talk about it. What I learned was that to survive in “new Las Vegas”, Danny rolled with the punches, was receptive to daring ideas, and still manages to have fun in a demanding new position.


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Your social media pictures depict a guy with a wacky sense of humor, yet you come across as really conservative when at work. Who’s the real Danny Wilkinson? Hhhmmm…. I’m definitely a fun loving guy that always wants to make people laugh and ensure that they’re having a good time, as well as have a good time myself. 

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What came first…the big muscles or Amazon.com? Hahaha! The muscles did! As the second youngest of seven kids, I was always trying to compete with my siblings. Naturally I wanted to be better at something than they were, which proved to be extremely difficult because they’re all very talented.

When did you start cross-fit training, and how does it fit into your daily routine?  Man… I started doing cross-fit seven years ago, if I remember correctly. Exercise/working out has done a lot for me mentally, as well as physically, so I try to make sure I get in the gym or work out at least once a day. Or at least do something active every day of the week! 

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Where did you go, pre-pandemic, for fun in Las Vegas?  I really enjoy drinking coffee and trying new breweries in town. So definitely going to coffee shops and checking out new ones in town and all the local breweries. Oh, and definitely checking out new restaurants…I’m a self proclaimed foodie that loves sweets.

Favorite restaurant in Las VegasThis is tough. I love food…. bbbbuuuutttt I’m going to have to go with Tacos & Beer or Bajamar Seafood & Tacos just by the Arts District! 

Are you more of a night owl or a day-dreamer? I’m honestly like a reversible shirt… definitely adaptable to every situation. But I’d say that I do enjoy the day and being in the sun. I’m a child of the sun!

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This is my boy Gabe. He is a lethal white Australian Shepard. He is 4.5 and I got him from A Home 4 Spot, a rescue here in Vegas. Gabe is literally my best bud!

You just lost a bet and you have to do something embarrassing in front of a crowd. Will you do a sexy dance or sing a romantic song? Oh wow… well I’m absolutely terrible at both, but I’m going to say that my voice is way worse than my dance moves. So a sexy dance it is!

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You just won a vacation and your choice is Alaska, Hawaii, or Miami? Which one…and what would be the first thing you do when you got there? Oh man! I’m going to Hawaii! First thing I’m doing is looking at booking a sky diving jump and a swim with the whale sharks! That’s on my bucket list to do both of those in the same day!! 

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Do you have a favorite charity or social cause? I’d say anything that can benefit kids and can offer them more resources, or ability to participate in sports. 

People would be surprised to know that you __ are a huge nerd. I really enjoy reading, subject matter is usually self-development, and I geek out on computer stuff. I don’t play many, or any video games, but building computers and seeing how people push the performance limits of them is pretty cool! 

You’re going to be locked in a room for three days and can only eat one type of food. What are you taking in with you? Oh this is too easy! I’m bringing all the fixings for a peanut butter and jelly hahaha! Yes, I do eat them quite regularly! 

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Hollywood is about to make a movie on your life. You get to choose the actor playing Danny Wilkinson. The actor is definitely going to be whoever the sexiest leading male actor is at the time! Hahaha, I’m kidding… or am I?! The real actor would be… seriously though, I think Jensen Ackles (SUPERNATURAL) would be a good fit! 

Favorite big-screen movieOoohhhh, that’s a tough one, too!!! I really enjoy going to the movies! It’s a bit nostalgic for me as I frequently went to the movies with my father growing up… but I’d say… THE CONJURING 2.

Is this the first time you’ve worked at a gay bar? How do you deal with flirting? The Garden is the first time I’ve worked at a gay bar. And usually I’ll laugh it off awkwardly, strictly because I’m a bit awkward. But most recently, I just flirt right back, haha.

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The Garden launches a sexy new themed night and bartenders are required to work shirtless. Your response is A) Do I really have to? B) Hell, yeah, I can finally show what I’m made of, or C) Whatever…I’m easygoing – I would say that I’m a mix of B and C. You know, we gotta be comfortable showing the guests what they want to see! 

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The Garden Las Vegas is located at 1017 S. 1st St Suite 180, Las Vegas, NV 89101. It is open Thursday through Sunday from 6pm to 1am. Call 702-202-0900 or visit their website to make reservati0ns. 

Esther’s Kitchen Leads a Wave of Restaurant Re-openings


Chef James Trees and team bring “Seasonal Italian Soul Food” back to Arts District…

It’s an absolute thrill to share news that life as we remember it might just be inching towards “normal”. Of course, there will be adjustments galore for both businesses and patrons…but let’s take what we can get and enjoy the wonderful experience of dining out once more.

The following is a press release I received from Eric. C. Gladstone this morning. Eric represents some of Sin City’s finest restaurants (La Strega, Vegenation, Lotus of Siam) and food festivals (Vegas Unstripped). Continue beyond the press release to my February 2019 write-up of Esther’s Kitchen, which was also featured in BestOfVegas.com. Please note that hours, menu and prices may have changed since the original publication.

Enjoy….and welcome back to the real world!

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Chef Trees during a recent online cooking class May 6, 2020

(credit: Cyndi Graham)

(May 11, 2020) – Chef/Owner James Trees has announced the reopening schedule for Esther’s Kitchen, following the statewide shutdown for COVID-19 quarantine. Esther’s Kitchen will resume dinner service next Friday, May 15 from 5-11 p.m. and open again for the same dinner hours Saturday May 16 and Sunday May 17.

The following week, the restaurant will resume dinner service Wed May 20 through Sunday May 24, and then dinner service will resume a 7 day schedule from Friday May 29. Weekend brunch service will resume Saturday & Sunday, May 30-31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Weekday lunch service will resume on Monday June 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 pm.

Per guidelines set by the State of Nevada and SNHD, Esther’s Kitchen will reduce the number of tables in the restaurants by 50%, with no bar seating until further notice. Dining on the front and rear patios will also be available. All service staff and kitchen staff will meet and exceed all mandated safety precautions while maintaining highest levels of service. Reservations through the website and over the phone will be strongly recommended, and guests will be asked to respect proper social distancing.

The restaurant will also be debuting a new menu, featuring more new vegetable-forward dishes, more new pastas and more main courses alongside many of diners’ established favorites. “We are excited to be getting back to serving our friends & neighbors,” said Chef Trees, “and especially excited to share some of the new dishes we’ve been working on.”

Key Dates:  5/15-17: Dinner resumes, 5-11 p.m.

5/20-5/24: Dinner service, 5-11 p.m.

5/29: Dinner returns to seven-day schedule, 5-11 p.m.

5/30-31 Weekend Brunch resumes, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

6/1: Weekday Lunch resumes, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.


ESTHER’S KITCHEN TURNS BRUNCH INTO ART

Feb 15, 2019 | By Sam Novak

Sometimes the best new offerings in any city are ones that spring up in gentrified areas. For Las Vegas, the eighteen-block region now known as the Art District was once a collection of run-down warehouses and abandoned shops. These days, a new vibe of hipster-cool is drawing both young and old back to the area.

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Nestled in among the graffiti-style wall murals, art galleries and coffee shops is a grand little place named Esther’s Kitchen. While technically located at 1130 S. Casino Blvd, the cafe physically faces E. California Avenue, unit #110. So while it may be a bit tricky to find, Esther’s Kitchen is definitely worth seeking.

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Esther’s Kitchen is the brainchild of Chef James Trees, whose late great-aunt Esther bequeathed him the funds to make the restaurant possible. A protege of sorts of the world-famous Michael Mina, Trees made his mark in countless establishments on and around the Strip before venturing out on his own.

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Esther’s Kitchen is the culmination of Chef Trees’ storied career…and a wonderful reflection of his upbringing. His goal is for every guest to feel welcome and cared for. The open kitchen, whimsical decor and friendly staff may remind you of visits to a favorite relative, but it’s with the food that Esther’s Kitchen really shines.

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Esther’s boasts a farm-to-table operation. Everything is locally sourced or brought in from the best nearby suppliers. It’s worth noting that prices are far less than you’d pay elsewhere for dishes of this quality and presentation.

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The weekend brunch, for which I was an invited guest, features a variety of familiar favorites given a homespun Italian slant. My companion and I were invited to select two entrees to accompany a sampler of Chef’s choices.

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We started out with a plate of warm fluffy Biscuits with Chive Butter ($5) along with Toasted Italian Bread under layers of cream cheese, smoked salmon, red onions and capers ($11).

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Next came a bowl of Malfada Nero ($19), a dish whose dark mafaldine pasta is colored with cuttlefish ink. The unique wavy noodles are tossed with big chunks of lobster (flown in directly from Gloucester, Mass.), fennel, lemon and truffle butter, and the dish is as mouth-watering as it sounds.

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My main course from the list of “Egg Dishes” was a plate of Polenta with two sunny-side Chino Ranch eggs, mushrooms, truffle butter and frico chips ($14). My guest took a cue from the lunch menu and indulged in an enormous Chicken Parm ($13) smothered in provolone, organic tomato sauce and basil. Sandwiches are accompanied by housemade root chips and a simple salad.

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Some of the other brunch specialties include Ricotta Pancakes topped with blueberry compote and lemon butter ($12), a Breaky Sandwich with sausage, fried egg, fontina cheese, greens and potatoes ($12) and Bread Pudding French Toast Sticks served with maple and golden dipping syrups ($10).

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During weekdays, Esther’s Kitchen caters to the Downtown lunch crowd with fast counter service. Parties of six or more can make reservations for full table service. The lunch menu has a variety of delectable pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches.

Esther’s dinner menu builds on crowd-pleasers from the lunch menu, and adds a hearty selection of main courses. Market Fish with charred orange braised endive ($28), Pachamama Farm Porchetta with squash and brussels ($27) and Rye Tagliatelle with braised duck and mushrooms ($24) should satisfy your cravings.

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Despite the intimate size of the dining room, Esther’s Kitchen boasts a full bar whipping up classics, alongside Seasonal Market Cocktails. It also hosts a daily “Pasta Happy Hour” – from 5 to 7 and 9 to 11, enjoy any adult beverage and get half off a pasta entree at the bar.

Whatever time you show up, you’re sure to enjoy Esther’s Kitchen. And if you’re feeling especially appreciative of your experience, you can send a round of beers to the kitchen for only six dollars.

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Esther’s Kitchen is open for brunch Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and for lunch between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Dinner is served daily from 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. For reservations, which are suggested, call 702.570.7864.

Photos: Sam Novak unless otherwise credited

 

 

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW ‘CELESTIA’ STAR VIP EXPERIENCE


Cosmic circus production invites guests to be a part of the show…

CLICK HERE TO READ THIS ARTICLE VIA THE AWESOME BESTOFVEGAS.COM WEBSITE…

BestOfVegasIn today’s era of heightened reality, the world of entertainment continues to become more immersive. From 3-D movies to interactive video games, audiences yearn to be a part of the action. Now The STRAT Hotel Casino invites you to ascend to the cosmos of CELESTIA with ‘VIP Star Experience’.

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CELESTIA fondly harkens back to the days of pure circus artistry that many of us grew up with. Live music, death-defying acts, dazzling lighting and a large cast of international talent come together under a glorious Big Top that is unlike anything Las Vegas has ever seen. The interior of the tent is awash in astral projections that transport the audience beyond the planets and to the furthest reaches of the galaxy.

                                         CELESTIA is appropriate for all ages…

Star VIP Experience allows up to eight guests at a time to witness the magic of CELESTIA right on stage with the performers. You will feel the heat as flaming batons fill the starry sky and gasp in awe as acrobats sail through the air, mere inches from your seat. Surrounded by musicians, dancers, aerialists, and contortionists, you’ll be drawn into the show in a way never before possible.

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The journey of CELESTIA‘s characters culminates in the Wheel of Death, a massive spinning structure on which two daredevils run, jump, skip rope and flip. As a VIP Star, you’ll feel the rush of air as the Wheel of Death spins faster and faster. Your seats will rumble from the shockwave created by the giant device, and your heart will skip a few beats as you witness this amazing climax closer than ever before.

CELESTIA‘s new VIP Star Experience is more than an artist’s-eye view of the performance. As a participant, you’ll be welcomed into the Big Top through a dedicated entrance, where you’ll receive a commemorative laminate, hot fresh popcorn, and a cocktail or beverage. Members of the cast will greet you before the show begins and personally escort you to your onstage vantage point for 70 minutes of award-winning excitement.

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Individual photo opportunities wrap up the Experience, including onstage pics with artists in front of the famed Wheel of Death. Then you’ll receive a tote bag filled with CELESTIA merchandise before returning to the Earth-bound confines of your everyday world.

Since opening, CELESTIA has set itself apart from its Vegas counterparts in numerous ways. The Big Top’s north-Strip location makes CELESTIA a unique gateway to the city’s Arts District. Late last year, the show’s outdoor courtyard began hosting Artists’ Square, a weekend showcase provided free-of-charge to local artists. Performance pieces and stationary exhibits will greet visitors each Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening.

Every Friday and Sunday at 4pm, CELESTIA hosts an Open House inside their 30,000 square foot tent. Also complimentary, these 30-minute forums give new visitors and returning fans alike the rare opportunity to meet performers and learn what it takes to be a part of the circus. You can witness their challenging training techniques and enjoy awe-inspiring demonstrations of their amazing skills.

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                 CELESTIA is perfect for groups of friends. Tickets start at only $29…

CELESTIA performs Wednesday through Sunday at 7pm with an additional 9pm performance on select weekend nights. The show is appropriate for all ages. Click HERE to order tickets through BestOfVegas.com. 

Photos: Sam Novak, Bobby Watson, CELESTIA via Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hot Guys of Vegas: Shyllon Melatti


Sin City native is the latest cast member to sizzle at CHIPPENDALES…

Stop it. Just stop it! We mere mortals can only handle so much sex appeal on one stage. Blame the people at Chippendales for raising body temps…and maybe even contributing to global climate change. But here we are once more with another absurdly sexy cast member…and this time his name is Shyllon Melatti.

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If you’ve seen the outrageous adult comedy “Sex Tips” at Paris Hotel, you’ve probaby already experienced plenty of Shyllon as “Stefan”. He joined a cast of handsome pleasures like Jai Rodriguez, Douglas Katch Gray, Mark Gregory Melton, and Louis D’Aprile, who all portrayed the wacky sex advisor “Dan Anderson”. There have been gorgeous ladies like Kendra Wilkinson, Katie Kenner, and the current MaKenzie Fly as tightly-wound “Miss Brown”.

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But it’s the character of ‘Stefan’ that has the most….er…”exposure” in this modern retelling of “My Fair Lady”. The hunky and linguistically-challenged stud earns a living as the lecture’s lights-and-sound tech. But when the moment arises, he’s called upon by Dan to strip down for a variety of demonstrations. The immigrant protests, of course (“Stefan is not stripper. I am scientist!”). That is until audience reaction sways him into a boom-chicka-wow-wow frame of mind.

Previous cast members Chris Hodgson, George Blick, and Colin Cahill have given their all for awesome interpretations of “Stefan”…and each has been featured in this column (for obvious reasons). Then the role went to our title man Shyllon Melatti. I was fortunate to be in the audience for Shyllon’s premiere performance. The gasps when he disrobed rippled through the audience…much like his stunning abs (see what I did there?).

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Shyllon is represented by TNG Models right here in Las Vegas. The six-foot hunk boasts a 40-inch chest, chiseled 32-inch waist, brown hair, and brown eyes. His distinctive scruff is even more appealing when he slips on a pair of eyeglasses. But you’ll be wanting Shyllon (rhymes with “nylon”) to slip out of those designer outfits and into something a lot less confining.

A self-described goofball, the Las Vegas native has appeared as the handsome lead in films like Goodbye (2011) and Hooked (2012). Athletic and adventurous, Shyllon loves the outdoors as much as he adores dogs and cats. Rock climbing, snow skiing, bicycling, camping, and diving into a waterfall…they’re all just a normal day for Mr. Melatti.

Much like his character, Shyllon is as academic as he is attractive. The UNLV graduate earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and lists himself as Executive Assistant at Daniel Franzese Entertainment. Previously a brand ambassador for Rockstar Energy Drink, he was once a lifeguard at Mandalay Bay’s DAYLIGHT BEACH CLUB (swoon).

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Shyllon’s dabbled in the music industry at Lava Records and done charitable work through Rebuilding Together Southern Nevada (RTSNV) and as a Big Brother for Boys and Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada. And did I mention that he loves cats? (yeah, that one is worth mentioning twice).

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Sex Tips was Shyllon’s first role in a live stage production, and he clearly made quite an impression. In the early part of this year, his role was re-acquired by George Blick so that Shyllon could take on hosting duties at Chippendales. Alas, the pandemic shutdown had other plans.

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So for the time being, Shyllon and the rest of the Chippendales cast are up for grabs via Chippendales@Home. You and your friends can book a personal online party with the boys. Dance, chat, play naughty games and more. Check out my article right here for all the details.

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If you absolutely MUST see this hunk in person right away, Mr. Melatti is flaunting his biceps while pouring drinks at brand new The Garden. The swanky, stylish restaurant/lounge just opened in downtown’s Arts District and is spearheaded by nightlife impresario Eduardo Cordova. Click this link to learn more about The Garden. Then make reservations to spend the evening with Shyllon and his steamy colleagues.

While I can’t guarantee that Shyllon will take off his shirt for you from behind the bar, he just might flash his abs if you buy a round of shots. And you can always request a personal Chippendales Cameo message from him before he returns to the stage at Rio Las Vegas sometime soon.