Born and raised: Natives offer perspectives on why Las Vegas will always be home

While in the design stage of Born and Raised, the Godino’s were adamant to work only with local Las Vegas companies, Alice Roussos of Interior Motives worked as the designer along with Tammi Grassi of Somers Furniture to build customized furnishings for their location.

Las Vegas Sun Article…

Having a fake ID in Las Vegas was a given. Siblings Scottie and Ali Godino knew this. They both had fakes by the time they were 16, and they put them to good use. Scottie fondly remembers stuffing his Bishop Gorman High School uniform in the trunk of his car and hitting up Spearmint Rhino, Ra nightclub or one of the Station Casinos for some baccarat. “That was the equivalent of basketball for us,” he says. “It”s just what you did.”

Now 29, Scottie says his hard-partying days are long gone. “I have friends from out of town who come to visit now, and they want to go crazy, but as a local you get all of that out of your system early.”

That background has its benefits — and its consequences. It becomes part of your identity. When Scottie moved to South Carolina for a golf-focused college prep academy, he was known as “the kid from Vegas.” Sometimes you can take the boy out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the boy.

And why would you want to, anyway? An adage goes that the children who live near the tracks are never the ones hit by trains. When you’re raised in America’s adult playground, you see the downsides of indulgence, sure, but you also know how better to protect yourself from temptation — and from vultures.

“Growing up here, you have a street sense because you’ve been exposed to so much,” Scottie says.

His younger sister agrees. “Vegas allows you to be an adult,” Ali, 22, says. “You can partake in all this freedom if you want to. It’s your decision here.”

When Ali moved to Tucson to attend the University of Arizona after high school, she was reminded firsthand of the unique liberties allowed in her hometown. “Once, I made the mistake of walking outside a bar with a beer. I was yelled at so quickly. It was like, ‘You cannot do that here!’ And, you know what, I feel like you should be able to do that.”

The incident made her miss home, where even if you never drink liquor on a public street corner at 4 a.m., you appreciate the right to do so. It might be a strange thing to find endearing about your hometown, but Ali just accepts that as part of the novelty of growing up in Las Vegas. “It is what it is, but I see slot machines in grocery stores and I find that comforting.”

Ali wasn’t really a fan of Tucson. “I guess it wasn’t Vegas enough for me,” she says. “My family has been season-ticket holders for the Rebels for 20 years. So, when U of A played UNLV, I wore Rebel red and sported all my UNLV stuff. All of my friends were confused, and I had to explain to them, ‘I’m sorry, but that’s my hometown team. I’ll root for U of A any day but when they play (UNLV).’ ”

Although Ali believes her bond with Las Vegas stems more from the familial ties and familiarity than the atmosphere or city itself, Scottie sees things differently. “I love that Vegas is a new town,” he says. “We have the luxury here of being able to build what we want. If you want to start a business, you don’t have to adapt it to fit a specific old kind of building, like you might have to in a place like downtown Chicago. Here, you can give it your own sense of character.”

That is precisely what he’s done with his labor of love, Born and Raised, a restaurant and tavern dedicated to Las Vegas and its people. BAR opened in October and features rare Las Vegas photos on the walls, donated high-school yearbooks and other endearing bits of local memorabilia. The centerpiece: A chandelier with 100 tiles, each engraved with the name of the first 100 customers who brought in proof that they were native Las Vegans.

“After talking to people and getting to know the history of the town, we wanted to bring that sense of being taken care of back. We don’t want to be four walls with a big bar in the middle. It’s like De Niro in ‘Casino’ when he walks in the room and asks everyone how they’re doing. We want people to feel welcome, and we take care of those regulars, those locals.”

The Godinos believe there isn’t enough of that anymore. “The casinos still take care of you, but only if you’re a high roller,” Ali says. “That’s not good. You cannot survive on bottle service alone.”

Scottie nods. He says he hates that aspect of the hospitality industry. In fact, he hates a lot of things about this city.

“I hate the direction it’s going,” he says. “These debt-ridden casinos and companies aren’t working. We need to get back to single-owned properties that don’t get lost in corporations.”

Still, Scottie’s not headed out of town anytime soon. He recalls working late one night at BAR. “I was completely exhausted and I thought to myself, ‘We really need to get everyone out of here and close so I can go to sleep.’ Then, I realize, we are never going to close. This is a 24-hour operation. That’s just how it works in this city.”

And living in Las Vegas isn’t so different, either. It may make you exhausted and it may have its shortcomings, but that’s just how it works. You push through it because you feel committed to its past … and to its future.

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