Why are so many downtown businesses expanding uptown? In a word, opportunity

Staci Linklater and James Reza, owners of Globe Salon, are shown Friday, May 18, 2018. Later this year, the downtown-anchored Globe will open a second location, just outside of Summerlin.

Globe Salon has been in business for 18 years. (Full disclosure: I’ve been a customer of theirs, on and off, since 2001.) For 10 of those years, they’ve operated out of the Soho Lofts high-rise at the corner of Charleston and Las Vegas boulevards. Globe’s downtown space is as modern as they come — high ceilings, sleek glass fixtures — and their hospitality is pure old-school Vegas: hot towels, shampooing stations with Italian-made massage chairs and staffers trained to the point they could easily run salons themselves.

You could drop Globe into LA or New York City and it wouldn’t seem remotely out of place, which makes it all the more extraordinary that its co-owners Staci Linklater and James Reza chose downtown Las Vegas — and at a time when downtown’s bankability was anything but assured, back when peoples’ idea of the city core was more Mad Max than Manhattan. Getting people to Globe, back then, took convincing.

“We're pioneers downtown,” Linklater says. “We faced a lot of misconceptions about downtown’s parking problems, its homelessness, its general safety. We’ve combated all of that.”

“We have a lot of guests who come to us … who are already urbanites in their mindset,” Reza says. “Maybe they moved here from New York or San Francisco and they don't harbor any fear, because they know what a real big city’s challenges are. They come to our downtown and say, "Oh, this isn't a problem at all."

“But the idea of going somewhere that seems a little less challenging puts a smile on my face,” Linklater says.

That “somewhere” is the west side. Later this year, Globe will open a second location just outside of Summerlin, in a recently remodeled shopping center at the intersection of Charleston and Rampart boulevards. And as it happens, Globe is part of a wave of downtown businesses that are opening second locations in the rapidly expanding west and southwest: They follow “breakfast and lunch joint” Eat, Latin-inspired coffee bar Makers & Finders, comfort food spot MTO Café and others that have already made the move. And they’re just a few steps ahead of several more — wine bar Bin 702, sandwich shop The Goodwich and others — who are also headed for the suburbs.

In other words, the downtown businesses that many said would never draw customers from the suburbs ended up drawing so many that it makes financial sense for their owners to open up shop closer to their neighborhoods. They’re attempting to export the big-city otherness of their downtown flagships to less bustling suburban settings, and so far, it’s working.

Eat owner Natalie Young, asked why she opened a “Summerlin proper” location, is succinct: “Opportunity.” She says the only reasons she considered opening a second location would be to create opportunities for deserving friends and to “benefit the community” — and her new westside location does both. Summerlin’s not yet doing the gangbuster business of Eat’s original location, but “it’s slow and steady, consistent. We’re paying the bills and making a bit of money on top, so it’s all good.”

“There are people who still may be a little afraid to come downtown, but Natalie has an amazing restaurant, and she wants that experience to be available for more people,” Linklater says. “That's the same for us. We want more people to experience what we do as a brand.”

Another thing motivating these moves is a sea change in the way local dining and retail is presented. The strip malls of Vegas’ 1990s boom years are slowly giving way to “lifestyle centers” like Town Square, The District and Tivoli Village — stylish, open-air malls that invite you to linger on outdoor patios and in shaded plazas. Until recently, these centers were largely the domain of regional and national chains — but as Las Vegas develops its own robust dining and retail culture, more and more of it is finding its way alongside the Apple Stores and Wolfgang Puck bistros.

“Globe Salon does not fit into a typical shopping center,” Linklater says. Their soon-to-open second location is at Rampart Commons, recently remade by Kite Realty from a strip mall into a lifestyle center in miniature. Their neighbors are largely national chains (Williams-Sonoma, North Italia), but they’re located immediately next door to beloved local bistro Honey Salt. It’s hard not to see this as the beginning of a wave of local authenticity, flooding into spaces that were previously the sole domain of out-of-towners.

“There’s definitely a need out there,” says Vesta Coffee owner Jerad Howard, who’s actively considering west and southwest locations in addition to his original Arts District spot. “With the city getting so large, a little more accessibility for people on that side of town is a win.”

Globe’s Linklater agrees. “If Summerlin's going to be booked on a Saturday, we’ll be happy to schedule you an appointment downtown, or vice versa. … You want to make your brand available to as many people as you possibly can.”

All that being said, Globe’s commitment to downtown remains steadfast. Asked if they’d consider opening yet another business, Linklater and Reza are cagey — after all, Globe’s second location isn’t even open yet. But they agree on one thing: where it would be.

“I think that there's a lot of opportunities for the concepts we've been developing in downtown, so that's where I would go,” Reza says. “Thankfully, my business partner agrees with me.”