Las Vegas Sun

October 21, 2020

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Loyal customers relish last visit to storied Las Vegas diner Vickie’s

Vickie's Diner Closes on Las Vegas Strip

Steve Marcus

Regular customer Mandy Payne takes a selfie with owner Vickie Kelesis during the final day of Vickie’s Diner in the White Cross Market on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. The diner, one of the oldest in Las Vegas, is planning to reopen in another location.

Vickie's Diner Closes on Las Vegas Strip

A group has lunch during the final day of Vickie's Diner in the White Cross Market on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. The diner, one of the oldest in Las Vegas, is planning to reopen in another location. Launch slideshow »

A retired Clark County School District grounds worker, Michael Turner has fond memories of eating lunch at Vickie’s Diner when he was in the neighborhood. 

When he heard the throwback diner — at 1700 Las Vegas Boulevard South, near the Strat — was set to close, he knew he needed to get one last meal. 

“The food was always good and the service was good,” Turner said. “I liked coming here.” 

Along with his son and daughter, Turner was one of about a dozen people lined up in 110-degree heat Sunday over the noon hour waiting for a table outside the diner. 

Turner said he planned to order the corned beef. Vickie’s chicken-fried steak and ham steak have also long been popular. 

The diner, which for years was called Tiffany’s Café, served its final meals before closing the location for good Sunday. 

It opened in the 1950s and for years served comfort food to Las Vegas locals and tourists alike. 

Owner Vickie Kelesis, its namesake, said the owners of the old White Cross Drugs strip mall where the diner was located — it sports a blue-and-white façade that makes it look like it’s right out of the 1950s — plan to tear the complex down. 

Kelesis said she’s in the process of locking down a new property to reopen the diner, which she said will likely be in the downtown area. 

Kelesis, whose uncle Pete Kelesis ran Tiffany’s for many years, used to waitress at the original café, which has long been known for its homemade food and large portions. She bought the diner in 2014. 

Click to enlarge photo

Owner Vickie Kelesis, right, poses with regular Harry Sullard during the final day of Vickie's Diner in the White Cross Market on the Las Vegas Strip Sunday, Aug. 16, 2020. Sullard said he has been coming to the diner since 1979 when it was Tiffanys. Vickie Kelesis took over the diner from her uncle in 2014.

As customers arrived and departed over the lunch hour Sunday, Kelesis greeted many by name while fighting back tears and offering hugs. 

“People have been lining up to get in since 6 a.m.,” Vickie Kelesis said. “They don’t care about the heat. It’s been about making relationships. I care for people, and they’re showing that they care in return. I’ll miss this spot, all the locals and tourists who have come in over the years.” 

Legend has it that Elvis Presley used to get his prescriptions filled at the drugstore. On a street-facing window, a stack of pancakes is painted on with the words “Elvis ate here.” 

As Kelesis talked, an employee walked around with a legal pad, taking down contact information from customers who wished to stay abreast about the new diner’s eventual reopening. 

Before the pandemic, Vickie’s was open 24 hours. During its final weeks, it was open for breakfast and lunch. 

Michael Turner and his children actually came by Vickie’s on Saturday, although it closed before they could get a table. Michael’s daughter, Tyiama Turner, experienced enough during their wait to know she wanted to come back. 

“I’ve never been here before,” Tyiama Turner said. “From what I was smelling (on Saturday), though, I said we have to make sure to come back for the last day.” 

Mandy Payne also stopped in for one last meal on Sunday. Since discovering the diner after moving into a downtown condo, Payne knew she had to get one last meal. 

“I’m going to probably just order whatever they have left,” she said while waiting for a spot to open inside. “Whenever I had guests from L.A., I’d always bring them here.” 

A resident of the Huntridge neighborhood, Jimmy Johnson said he came to Vickie’s two to three times a week for breakfast. 

Like the diner’s owner, he was a bit sad about the closing. 

“I don’t like change, so, yes, I’m a little sentimental,” Johnson said. “This is a nice place. They still know your name here. I’m going to miss it.”