Masi is back in town and in business

By late 2014, Andy Masi had overseen 26 nightclubs, restaurants and a topless pool in Las Vegas in a dozen years. But this mammoth venture, the Light Group, weighed heavy on his mind.

“Nothing was fun. Every day was a struggle just to get through the mundane. I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore,'” Masi told me in a private dining room at Red Rock Resort, as a server stood server-silent, pouring aqua in thin glasses.

Masi’s partners were in agreement. Light Group (a management company operating businesses in hotel-owned properties) sold its remaining interests to rival Hakkasan for (reportedly) $36 million — and that was after Light Group had sold most of its interests to Morgans Hotel Group for (reportedly) $46.5 million.

“It was a pleasant sale,” Masi said calmly, as if we were discussing eBayed sneakers.

Masi next repaired to San Diego with his wife and two children.

“I love them,” he said. “Life was great. Everything was good.”

But big-money, power-brokering, industry-creating CEO types just can’t leave well enough alone.

Two weeks into Masi’s San Diego breeze, an old friend phoned.

“Bill McBeath called and said, ‘I’m the new president of Cosmo, let’s get working on something,'” Masi recalled. “When Bill McBeath calls you up and says, ‘Do you want to build a bar in the middle of the Cosmopolitan,’ you’re a fool to say no.”

So Andy Masi, club legend, is back on the scene but not in clubs. He’s CEO of CliQue Hospitality, working with Light fixtures Shane Monaco (head of development) and executive chef Brian Massie.

Let’s be real. Masi never let go of Vegas. His partners held onto the new Red Rock Resort restaurant Hearthstone. Since then, they have launched Salute restaurant in Red Rock (where we were talking over water).

And ambition resumes. CliQue soon will remake Red Rock’s Mercadito restaurant, rebranding it Libre; CliQue is opening two restaurants at Green Valley Ranch (an Italian light farmhouse, and a Mexican place); CliQue will open The Cosmopolitan’s “avant-garde” CliQue Bar and Lounge by New Year’s Eve.

“And then we have a project I’m not technically supposed to announce, in Mirage, in the next six months, ” Masi said. (Masi used to run Mirage’s 5,000-square-foot Revolution Lounge.)

The most pressing of these developments is Cosmopolitan’s CliQue, a 3,300-square-foot elegant bar with dark, sexy warm colors, designed to hold a boutique number of people, 250.

Unlike Masi’s club ventures, CliQue bar will have no cover charge, no $5,000 bottle service, offering itself as a more democratic meeting place, a la his old Lily lounge in Bellagio.