A Chat with Andy Masi
The CEO of Las Vegas-based Light Group delves into his latest projects
What's next for you?
Right now we’re working on a few interesting concepts slated to open in 2014. We’re putting an updated twist on the fun, casual dining scene with three new venues: an indoor-outdoor beer garden, an approachable gastropub, and an exhibition-style Mexican kitchen.
Any other trends or influencers you all are paying attention to?
I was in Chicago over the summer and was impressed with the food scene out there. We saw a lot of these interesting, out-of-the-box dishes created by individual chef/owners at many of the restaurants. I haven’t been that impressed with an overall restaurant scene in a long time.
You just opened Kumi. How did it come about?
Kumi is Light Group’s second project with chef Akira Back. Working with chef Back is always exciting, and the opportunity to create a high-end yet approachable restaurant at Mandalay Bay made sense. We felt a modern Japanese restaurant with a Korean-American twist was the perfect fit.
Light is an amazing feat with Cirque du Soleil. How did it come about? What did you want to bring to Las Vegas?
With Light, it was great to bring back the club that started it all for us and do something special with it. We were able to merge our nightlife expertise with Cirque du Soleil’s expertise in entertainment, and it all came together to be one of the best nightclubs in the world. Guy Laliberté from Cirque has always been known to throw these elaborate parties and his shows speak for themselves. We were able to take what we do and what they do and create something together that’s far from the average nightclub experience, and we are extremely proud of that.
What are the design highlights of your new establishments?
At Kumi, some touches that mesh traditional Japanese carpentry and pottery with distinctive design elements, like a custom-created iridescent black canvas ceiling featuring Japanese calligraphy in gold leaf. The venue’s two-story rotunda features a specially commissioned photograph of a distorted cherry blossom tree in bloom, snapped in Toronto.
One of the best design elements of any venue we have ever done is the Acrowall at Light. It’s a massive wall behind the DJ booth that the Cirque dancers physically bounce and jump off of during their performances. Visitors have a view of the DJ booth and the unbelievable visuals and video mapping behind the DJ. The Cirque dancers look like they are flying off the wall and through the club. It’s completely different than any other venue on the Strip.
How has the trend in craft mixology changed the direction of your bar programs?
Whether it’s using rare spirits for our Private Stock Menu at Lily Bar & Lounge or coming up with new and exciting cocktails at the restaurants, we always offer great, quality drinks to our guests. We tailor our menus to our customers wants. We take great pride in knowing our clientele and what they are looking for, so it’s easy for us to create a beverage program that is geared towards them.
With so many venues in Las Vegas, how do you stay current and make sure not to compete with yourself?
With all of our venues, we carefully think of the concept and about building a great experience for our customers. We don’t just rush into every deal. In the last year, we have put a lot of focus on our Mandalay Bay projects, which have helped contribute to the revitalization of the property. By the nature of the venues themselves, we create unique spaces that complement, rather than compete with each other. For example, you can head from a sunlit day party at Daylight—an Ibiza-style beach club—to an epic night at Light on the same property.
It's been a tough few years for Las Vegas and the hospitality industry. Do you see that the industry is picking up? What's your outlook on the next year or so?
The industry is definitely picking back up. People are going out to dinner and enjoying themselves again compared to a couple years back. While people are feeling a little more comfortable with spending money, we still strive to keep the cost of our products within a price range that’s affordable to our guests.