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Atomic Liquors plans to reopen in December

Atomic Liquors is back! Well, almost.

Friday, three new owners take the keys to the historic building, which has been shuttered since Jan. 1, 2011. Attorney Lance Johns; his brother Kent, a real estate broker; and Derek Stonebarger, owner of Theatre7, bought the bar’s liquor license last week and signed a building lease with the option to buy. The bar will re-open in December.

The owners intend to renovate and add new features. Planned are larger bathrooms and bar upgrades, outdoor seating and a beer garden. The attached mechanic’s garage will be converted into a live-music venue, and Stonebarger hopes to host drive-in movies in the parking lot. A permanent movie theater is also being considered.

Décor will lean historical, with retro Vegas art and themed spaces, such as the Rat Pack Corner, Smothers Brothers Alley, Barbara’s Seat, Bugsy’s Bar and Hangover Hideout to honor the hangout’s famous guests.

Joe and Stella Sobchik of Las Vegas were the bar’s original owners and ran the business up until they passed away three months apart in 2010. The building opened in 1945 as a cafe called Virginia’s, but changed its name to Atomic Liquors in 1952 because the spot became known for its roof-top patio, where patrons could drink and watch atomic blasts from the test site. Atomic Liquors later received the first package liquor license and off-sales permit in 1957. To this day, it holds the oldest liquor license in the city.

Stonebarger, a filmmaker and artist, says he’s most excited to unify Las Vegas’ creative communities.

“The potential for this place is huge,” Stonebarger said. “It has showbiz in its veins. It has creative juices on tap. It’s a true blast from the past. I think it is just what we need right now to pull us all together.” KRISTY TOTTEN