SHe by Morton’s Gets a Woman's Touch
By Matt Kelemen
Shannon DuPont adds a female touch to the new SHe steakhouse.
Shannon DuPont is often credited as being Las Vegas’s first female VIP host, and she may have also introduced to the city what is these days a nightlife staple as ubiquitous as DJs and go-go dancers: bottle service. Now celebrity restaurateur Eva Longoria and partner Tilman J. Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s, are looking to DuPont to bring innovation to Crystals, where she is currently overseeing the re-imagination of Beso Steakhouse into dining and nightlife concept SHe by Morton’s.
DuPont’s enterprising spirit kicked off shortly after arriving in Las Vegas nearly 15 years ago, while she was working at Babys nightclub inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (where she met husband Cory McCormack). “I was a server, and people were coming in from Miami and New York, and they would try to order bottles,” she says during a late-morning interview at Mandarin Oriental’s Tea Lounge. The Florida native knew bottle service existed in Miami, but it had yet to surface on the Strip. DuPont’s request for a full bottle was unfathomable to her bartender, so she asked how many shots it contained. “I don’t remember how many it was, but he told me,” she says. “I just rang it up that many times.”
Fast-forward past her convincing Hard Rock head honcho Peter Morton to override a manager who said a VIP hosting job “wasn’t for women,” which launched her career. She became one of the most in-demand figures in Vegas nightlife, working for the N9NE Group at Palms, The Light Group, and Hard Rock again before Wynn’s Surrender and Encore Beach Club snagged her in 2010. A November 2011 dinner discussion led to what is now Epic Entertainment, a partnership between DuPont, McCormack, and Steve Gogolab (ex-director of customer development for Cosmopolitan steakhouse STK), which set about developing SHe with former STK chef Todd Mark Miller directing the kitchen.
Stakes are high. SHe is poised to become a new brand with franchise potential under Landry’s restaurant umbrella. The venue has been completely redesigned with women in mind and to synergize with Crystals. The modern Art Deco design theme includes a new exterior entrance and valet, a runway inside the restaurant, and a large patio for outdoor dining. The steak menu will have “She,” “He,” and “We” (small, traditional, and shared) cuts, while the nightclub upstairs will create atmosphere with theatrical vignettes courtesy of producer Jeff Kutash.
When SHe opens on New Year’s Eve, DuPont plans to be at the front door, applying the sum total of her many years of nightlife experience and creating the highest standards for customer service possible. “I know who’s who, by name or face,” she says. “Whether he’s important or not, I just want to assume he is and treat him that way. That’s part of what I want to bring back, for us to be nice at the door.”
photography by leila navidi