It’s Christmas Day 1991, Kelly is sending her newlywed husband Larry on a wild-goose chase all over the Las Vegas valley in search of one item. Due to the holiday, virtually every store is closed, it became a tedious scavenger hunt.
After hours of aimlessly driving around the city, Larry saw a lit ‘Open’ sign at White Cross Market on the corner of Las Vegas Blvd and Oakey. He entered the store and found the item his wife needed – a pregnancy test. 7 months later, Kelly and Larry welcomed their twins Ashley & Jennifer (me) into the world.
It seems that every Vegas native has a story that goes back to The White Cross Market. The beloved staple and it’s attached restaurant, Vickie’s Diner, have served locals for over 50 years. But they are finally closing their doors for good.
White Cross Market originally opened in 1950. It’s convenient location just north of the Strip, made it an instant hotspot for casino employees and legendary entertainers including Liberace, Elvis, and members of the Rat Pack. In the decades since, it remained a popular breakfast spot for locals to retire after a night out.
The drugstore closed in 2015, but it’s attached restaurant, Vickie’s Diner (originally Tiffany’s), served its last meal on Sunday. Generations of Las Vegans are mourning the closure of one of the oldest restaurants in the city. It feels like the end of an era for some.
For Vegas local Christian Ulloa, Vickie’s has been his first-choice stop for steak and eggs after a long night of drinking for over a decade.
“There aren’t a lot of places left like this in Vegas, it feels like a small part of our city’s history is getting torn down,” said Ulloa. He was saddened, but not surprised to hear the diner would be soon closing.
Sometimes it’s the unsusceptible experiences that become the most memorable. One morning, Ulloa dropped by the diner before heading to Traffic Court to pay a speeding ticket. He sat at the counter, drank his coffee, and stared out the window.
“I thought this was the best coffee in all of Vegas, and you get a free show. That intersection – you get it all: the transients, casino workers, tourists, street walkers, and business types,” said Ulloa.
“You’re looking at the soul of the city. It was then I realized how special the place was, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting with a Vegas twist.”
The building was recently sold, and the owners were given a 30-day notice to vacate. The current owner Vickie Kelesis worked as a waitress at the diner for 8 years before becoming the owner and changing its title to her namesake. She hopes to reopen the diner to a new location in the next few months.
“It’s a shame really, the whole building is a neighborhood landmark. Vickie’s had seriously great food, great staff and prices and the whole place just brought a lot of character to the area,” said Ulloa.
In addition to its kitsch mid-century aesthetic and its array of comfort food favorites, people have flocked to the old-fashioned diner to take a selfie with a peculiar painting perched on its wall.
Simply known as “That Painting,” its unusual canvas features the face of a primitive looking man with two guns, while inexplicably being juxtaposed into a forest landscape. There is even a Facebook group dedicated to said painting, because… of course there is.
Locals and tourists frequently post selfies with the painting to the Facebook group, which is described as a place for “people who have special feelings for ‘That Painting,’ you know the one!”
Vickie’s served its last meal on Sunday, August 16. It’s dining room was filled with patrons sharing memories and savoring what would be their last time at the beloved staple.
“There aren’t a lot of places like this in Vegas, it feels like a small part of our city’s history is getting torn down,” said Ulloa. “That’s Vegas you know, out with the old, in with the new.”