Las Vegas' s Bagelmania, whatever happens there, stays there

Aug 14, 2012 3:08 AM

It’s called Bagelmania on the outside, but the longtime breakfast, lunch and brunch favorite is really a daily board of directors meeting.

Everyone needs a favorite gathering spot, whether it’s a tavern, sports book, ballgame, restaurant or casino where the pressures of life are removed for a short time and replaced with pure fun, pleasure and relaxation.

It’s done all of us a lot of good.

Weekdays and Saturdays are usually when the power groups show up for great food, lively discussions and stories that recall how Las Vegas is now and really was back in the day. And that day, according to former Frontier owner and Desert Inn executive Burton Cohen, who was mentioned weekly in the old “Vega$” television series, is “off the record.”

Recently, a large portion of the group posed for a photo sure to be a part of Bagelmania folklore for years to come.

At least, that’s the rumor.

It has developed a “locker room atmosphere” where truly whatever happens there, stays there.

The “breakfast club” centers around Vegas icon Gene Kilroy, whose stories cover several lifetimes of experiences in his roles as casino/resort power broker, personal confidant to the legendary heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali and mover and shaker with the Philadelphia Eagles. Gene is the magnet that draws so many personalities to his favorite early morning eatery.

“In New York City, they had Toots Shor’s, a Who’s Who’s where everyone had dinner,” Kilroy said. “In Las Vegas, our Toots Shor’s is  Bagelmania.

“People come here from all over the world,” he added. “They’ve read about the place from as far away as Berlin, Germany. This is the spot to be.”

Legendary Las Vegas comedian Shecky Greene is a frequent guest and always makes a grand entrance, treating friends and strangers to an opening monologue from a simple hello. And Steve Lawrence will make Sunday appearances from time to time both with and without Eydie Gorme.

Athletes like Earnie Shavers (boxing), UNLV and NBA great Larry Johnson (basketball), Dwight Clark and Roger Craig (NFL San Francisco 49ers) and Howie Landa (past UNLV basketball coach) drop by when they can find time. And when they do, there’s always a seat at the “reserved” head table thanks to the Bagelmania owner and fellow club member Nancy Horns.

“Having the group here every day is wonderful,” Horns said. “They really support Bagelmania and I truly love these guys.”

Government is represented with our matriarch Thalia Dondero, the first woman commissioner elected in Clark County, and legendary Sheriff Ralph Lamb, the subject of the CBS television show entitled “Vegas” scheduled to debut in late September.

The Twain and Swenson locale is also privy to outdoor guests ranging from the homeless to a swarm of bread-crumb eating pigeons that would make Marlon Brando proud.

We come for the food, but secretly it’s the company and the stories of old Vegas that have us leaving with a lot more knowledge than when we arrived.

The recent group portrait is for all to see. It hangs next to the huge mural that is the signature piece of Bagelmania. No subject is off limits and the language can get real salty.

It’s also not a bad place to pick up a few football selections, but of course you will absolutely see no documentation.

Burton Cohen will see to that.