The country singer is set to open his new Ole Red bar in Las Vegas next year
Blake Shelton is standing in an under-construction building in the center of the Las Vegas Strip. As of now, there’s no doors, no flooring, very little paint and sawdust litters the ground, but the country singer "couldn't be more excited."
During an exclusive tour of the space, which in early 2024, will be Shelton’s sixth and largest Ole Red concept and will be packed with people letting loose, listening to country music and enjoying cocktails and beer, the singer, 47, reflects on how far the venue — which he first announced in 2021 — has now come.
“The last time I stood in this spot, I mean it was literally just a hole in the ground. We’ve come a long way,” Shelton tells PEOPLE.
“We're in the thick of things down here, dead center,” he says of the famed Strip. “I couldn't be more excited about this spot and what we have to offer people coming to Las Vegas looking for entertainment versus really anywhere else.”
Ole Red Las Vegas will be the sixth of Shelton's bars, and is located in front of the Horseshoe and on the corner of one of the city’s busiest intersections, is a 27,000-square-foot $30 million development that includes four stories of food and entertainment and a 4,500 square-foot rooftop bar with views of the Las Vegas skyline. It sits directly across from the famed Bellagio fountains.
Although Shelton has opened bars before — locations of other Ole Red include those in Nashville, Orlando, Tishomingo and Gatlinburg — he explains that this one is different because of the sheer scope of it.
"I've seen this phase of the process enough times to know that I can picture it now and there's similarities to all the Ole Reds, and there's some similarities to... Nashville with the balcony that looks down on the stage and the bar placement and all that stuff," he explains.
"But it's also just so much bigger. I mean, this is a giant, and so I don't know that I would say I’m emotional, but it is overwhelming and it's hard for me to take it all in right now and just accept that this is really happening and we're almost to the finish line."
Like his other locations, Ole Red Las Vegas will feature live music nightly, and Shelton is already promising to take the stage there. In fact, he plans to christen the stage when the doors open.
“I don't want anybody singing on this stage before I do. I want to break it in,” he says while pointing to the area that will soon provide the soundtrack of the night and be the heartbeat of Ole Red.
And thanks to his proximity to the new Ole Red location, Shelton says he plans to stop by plenty once it opens.
“I'm in L.A. still a lot and this is awful close to not be stopping in a lot, so I'm sure you'll see me here quite a bit. Everybody looks for an excuse to be in Las Vegas. There's not a better reason than if you own a bar here, and they can’t kick me out of my own bar.”
Shelton — who last month celebrated wife Gwen Stefani being honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — spoke to PEOPLE earlier this year about the new venue, promising that it will have live music every day of the week and sharing more about the cuisine that will be on offer.
"I had the idea of a chicken-fried state — your chicken-fried steak would come out looking like the shape of the state the Ole Red is in, like Oklahoma or Tennessee," he revealed in January. "Something about that just turned people off, so I decided maybe I'll stay out of the kitchen and let the pros do it. I think a Florida-shaped chicken-fried state sounds brilliant."
Shelton continued, "I cook at home a lot, but I make regular chicken-fried steaks — not states, because the shape of Florida can be inconsistent when you're frying something. They don't want it to look like a fried penis on people's plates. It's a good point!"
Back in 2021, shortly after Ole Red Las Vegas was first announced, the country singer spoke to PEOPLE about why he wanted to open a bar in Nevada city.
"I've been going to Las Vegas for 20 years now, and the one thing that I've noticed, and people talk about, is there's not enough country music venues," Shelton said during the November 2021 interview, which took place at Ole Red Nashville. "There's especially nothing right down in the midst of the strip and in the center of everything."
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The country star went on to share that he felt the new venue would provide an opportunity for people to "chill out" amid all the excitement Vegas has to offer.
Shelton continued: "You want to see all kinds of things, but at some point, I think it can be a little overwhelming and tiring. Maybe you just want to have one of your nights in Vegas to just chill out, have a drink and listen to some country music? To have it there so accessible and right there in the middle of everything, it's just going to be perfect."
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