Atomic Liquors

Atomic Liquors on Fremont Street, Las Vegas.

I convinced Sandee to join me at Atomic Liquors on Fremont Street, just beyond the Western Hotel Casino in what the Las Vegas Sun calls the “gritty underbelly of Las Vegas.”

Owner Joe Sobchick and his wife Stella started business in 1945 with a cafe called Virginia’s. They converted it into a bar in 1953, and changed the name to recognize their proximity to the nuclear tests just 60 miles away.

Now nearly 90, Joe believes he’s been in business longer than any other single bar owner in town, and it’s been a good run. You’ll see his sign in TV, magazines, and movies, most famously perhaps in Martin Scorsese’s Casino (1995) with Robert De Niro and Sharon Stone.

The decline of the neighborhood challenged the Sobchiks, but they fought back. And amazingly — for a city that is constantly reinventing itself — the community seems to have stood behind them.