The team behind Libertine Social doesn’t want to simply feed guests an amazing meal — they want them to feast on an immersive storytelling experience designed to tap into a journeyman’s spirit of adventure.
James Beard Award-winning Chef Shawn McClain and Studio Munge collaborated on the gastropub within Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas with the desire to create something never done before in a casino-resort setting. The theme and design elements speak to McClain’s belief that life’s greatest moments are those shared with good food and friends.
The concept features work from a world-famous graffiti artist, a “house party” look and feel, hiding a bar-within-a-bar, among other elements and the restaurant was designed with an open layout to enable guests to move through the space freely and mingle with others. The personalized elements in the décor were curated by the creators themselves from collected travels and experiences. What truly separates Libertine Social is an overarching narrative designed to provide diners with a customized experience.
The process of constructing this life story began with a delayed business trip for McClain, Studio Munge’s Principal Interior Designer Alessandro Munge and Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. They were detoured to Venice Beach’s Abbot Kinney neighborhood and the tale crafting was sparked by the journey.
“The eclecticism of Abbot Kinney is what really inspired the idea of Libertine Social,” said McClain. “While exploring the neighborhood, we created this fictional persona of ‘Kyle,’ who is the soul of the town – both as an entrepreneur and as the host of its social scene. Eventually, ‘Kyle’ would guide every decision we made while creating the concept and design for Libertine Social.”
Transporting the stylistic elements to a casino locale was the handiwork of Munge Studio.
“Las Vegas is a city where it’s transient in a sense so we wanted to capture space that is worthy of conversation and intrigue,” Munge told Modern Restaurant Management magazine. “This is not a cookie cutter project. We wanted it to be an authentic, organic, cool place where people can explore the layers. It’s not creating space for pretty pictures, but putting a pulse in the space that evokes emotions and makes guests part of the process. Who wants to go to a space that doesn’t have a heartbeat?”
Libertine Social repurposes existing structures within the space–the restaurant’s exterior utilizes the previous façade, but it will be transformed with a large-scale graffiti artwork by street artist Alex Diaz. Diaz, whose murals draw inspiration from nature, animals and surrealism, will also design an original tag on Libertine Social’s outdoor patio.
The “house party” atmosphere features two bars, a social dining room, chef’s table and patio. Guests will enter Libertine Social through Voyeur, an eclectic lounge filled with curated furnishings and highlighted by a retro jukebox where guests can pick a song and set the tone for the night. Anchoring the lounge will be Social Bar, layered with rich textures and eye-opening decor such as a large, antique glass arch centered over the bar and a “Stay Wild” neon light. A second smaller bar reminiscent of a fine English pub, used to showcase the expert craftsmanship and art of mixology, will be tucked away at the rear of the restaurant. An open kitchen and chef’s table will feature exposed grills and prep areas where guests can interact with chefs to become a part of the culinary process. Other elements include an intimate dining room space, outdoor patio designed as a rooftop terrace and a food truck inspired to-go counter.
The variety of experiences available at Libertine Social will ensure that a guest never has the same encounter twice, Munge pointed out.
“People will hear about it and be curious. It’s pairing food with atmosphere and guests will feel and understand something authentic.”