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Sammy?s two-level, 15,000-square-foot flagship Cab o Wabo Cantina

Von: Rushgedlife (rushgedlife@yahoo.com) [Profil]
Datum: 11.12.2009 18:37
Message-ID: <d5430286-7f9b-4b2e-a5da-b247ac81508a@p35g2000yqh.googlegroups.com>
Newsgroup: alt.music.van-halen
Sammy Hagarís 18-year journey from Baja to the Strip
By Robin Leach
Dec. 8, 2009

Rocker Sammy Hagar has finally opened his Las Vegas flagship outpost
of Cabo Wabo Cantina that he founded in 1991. Itís taken 18 years to
bring the party playground up from the Mexican Baja to Sin City. Just
hours before its official weekend opening in Planet Hollywoodís
Miracle Mile Shops, Sammy flew in from his San Francisco Bay Area home
to give me a tour and chat about his near two-decade journey:

Robin Leach: For a man who loves the rock and roll of Las Vegas, why
the heck did it take you so long to bring Cabo Wabo here?

Sammy Hagar: Tell me about it. I have been trying to make different
deals in this town, and something would always happen. Maybe the guy I
was trying to do it with would get fired or the building would get
repossessed. Itís crazy, and I didnít want to be attached to just
anything because Cabo Wabo has such a vibe, its own energy and theme,
that it doesnít go along with some of the other themes of the hotels.
And these other theme hotels were trying to get me to put a Cabo Wabo
in, and I was like no, it doesnít work there, it has to be kind of
standalone. I have just been too uppity.

RL: How long has Cabo Wabo been in Cabo?

SH: Since 1991. I started it in 1988 when I wrote the song ďCabo WaboĒ
for the Van Halen record. I bought the property, and then it took
about three or four years to build down there then since everything
was done by hand. Itís been a great success story because most people,
when you do a business south of the border to start with, who knows
how long it's going to be, but it has been consistently successful
from the first year, and I am the luckiest guy in the world to have

RL: I go there twice a year because itís so special, but what is it
that attracted you to the place? What did you feel, what did you
taste, what did you sense when you went there for the first time?

SH: Well, itís still there to start with, even though itís crowded
with wall-to-wall hotels and businesses and everything else. To me,
the same thing that is still there is something really spiritual and
magical about Baja, the whole peninsula and Cabo being down there just
has a special feeling. The weather is phenomenal, the water is
phenomenal, but what put the hook in me is I went down there in 1982,
I was a rock star, I had been on MTV. You know thatís when MTV first
started, so I had my videos, and I was pretty famous, and anywhere I
went, people would know me. Anyone that knew rock íní roll would be
like, Ďthereís Sammy Hagar.í I went to Cabo and I could have walked
down the street in my stage clothes screaming and yelling my biggest
hit, and people would have thought who is this crazy gringo and what
is he so excited about. That really appealed to me. I thought. ĎMan,
this is pretty cool. I can totally go up and sing with mariachis, and
nobody wants to come up and take a picture or wants an autograph.í And
I loved that lifestyle and the smells of barbecue chicken and shrimp
on the barbie walking down the street, and the mariachi music and the
ambiance just gives me goose bumps. And I said I am going to buy a
house here, and I did in 1982, and then I said I am going to build a
freakiní place where I can play music, and I did, and I still love the

RL: So what have you captured of that magic from Cabo in this Strip-
front restaurant here at Planet Hollywood?

SH: Itís kind of early for me to judge it because I have only been
there once. The last time I saw you at Emerilís charity in The
Venetian -- you know thatís twice in two weeks after not seeing you in
20 years -- I went over there right after, which was the first time I
had seen it. It was great, but the food, we are trying to keep it
authentic. We have the Cabo shrimp, and we use a lot of tequila-based
sauces, which give the smells when you heat it up. Like fajitas
marinated in some tequila and when you throw them on the fire, and you
start smelling the agave coming off and you are drinking tequila, you
really do kind of get that smell and that feeling and that little buzz
that you get from tequila. And you can maybe close your eyes and think
you are in Mexico, at least at the Cabo Wabo.

Iím really just trying to bring the rock íní roll aesthetic to the
glitz and glamour on the Strip. If I had put the authentic Cabo
Cantina in place here, people would say, ĎNo, this belongs downtown.í
Itís a little too authentic, so we tried to make it modern, cool, a
little more high-tech Cabo Wabo. But the food is still authentic, and
the drinks are fantastic. I donít drink those big slush yard drinks
they sell for 39 cents, but the real margaritas are made from hand-
squeezed lime, and they are handmade margaritas that are awesome, and
the food is great. Like I said, my friends and my music will be
predominately played here, and weíll be live, so people who come are
guaranteed to have a good time.

The main thing is that it is a flip-flop, tank top, around-the-clock,
nonstop-type vibe that you donít have to get dressed up for. Come as
you are, and you hopefully donít have to wait in line. Sometimes it
might be packed to get in, but nobody is ever going to cut in line
ahead of you. You know I like the down home way of life. First come,
first served. Hey, I earned this. I deserve it. So that is what Cabo
Wabo stands for, and I am going to keep that enforced.

RL: Are you happy being a restaurateur or a vocalist?

SH: Robin, that is such an unfair question. I really love both. I love
all kinds of things. I get excited about an idea, and I just want to
do it. My reason for doing things anymore is because I love doing it.
I love seeing a project through, and I think if I had to do only one,
I would of course be a singer. But I love being able to do the other

RL: You have this new group called Chickenfoot, so you are still
rocking. Are you gong to go out like Jagger, 70 years of age and still

SH: I hope so. Itís not a plan, but every time I go on a big trip or
tour, like Chickenfoot we did a world tour this year, the hardest I
have worked in so long, and I really got tired at the end of it and
thought, ďMan, I donít know if I want to do this anymore.í Then I tak
a month off or six weeks, and I am thinking I want to go play the Cabo
Wabo, so I go pop into town and jump up onstage. I love doing it, and
I donít want to necessarily just pack up and live out of a suitcase
for the rest of my life, but I want to go play. Thatís the good thing
about having a Cabo Wabo. I can go to my own places and jump up on the
stage every night of the week if I wanted to, and singing is a special
thing and it really does get in your skin. I hope Mick isnít doing if
for money.

RL: No, I think he is doing it to keep the 470 people on his payroll
employed. Thatís the problem of touring with a big rock íní roll band

SH: Yes, they have a huge overhead. We are a little more low-key than
that. The cool thing about Chickenfoot is that I put together a band
of people that I have dreamed of and wanted to play with. I said
whatís my dream band: Joe (Satriani) on guitar, (Michael) Anthony on
bass and myself singing. Thatís my dream band, and it worked. It went
gold in every country, and to do that at my age, man, I feel good
about it. It shows that my passion is still there for it.

RL: If you were to take your wife for dinner and drinks at this new
restaurant, what would you order? What is you favorite?

SH: I would go with the Wabo shrimp, and I bet she would have the
chicken fajitas, or I might toss about the beef fajitas. Most fajitas
are not made this way, but we have a twist and marinate it in the
tequila, and then you put it on that hot pan and those smells are
coming off and you take that shot of tequila. That is where you are
going to get that ambiance of the true thing walking down in Cabo. If
you have two shots, that happens and you smell the fajitas. If you
could hear the mariachi music at that moment, you might get

I am straight tequila guy. Margaritas are the best drinks ever
invented. I love them, but to me, tequila, I love tequila. I like the
way it tastes, no salt, no lime. My way to drink it is you do take
salt the very first time before you take tequila because it sets your
palate properly, so you use a little sea salt or kosher salt, but a
little bit. Then you start drinking tequila, you donít slam it, you
know a couple ounces should get you three or four sips. Itís a great
high, a great drink. It makes you a different person, I hate to say
it. You know people donít fight on tequila. You drink whiskey, you
start fighting. You drink beer, you start fighting. You start drinking
tequila, and you are on the stage taking your clothes off and usually
wind up in love.

I am not a big drinker. I just get my little buzz and nurse the rest.
I take it easy these days!

Sammyís two-level, 15,000-square-foot flagship Cabo Wabo Cantina is
located at Planet Hollywoodís Miracle Mile Shops on the Strip. He
performed opening night with the Waboritas, and not only did members
of Chickenfoot show up in support, but country pal Kenny Chesney also
performed a duet with him.

Ole Mas Tequila por favor! Andiamo!


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