Secret Safe Uncovered in Vegas Liquor Business

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By Doug Johnson

LAS VEGAS (KVVU) — While putting in a new floor in the oldest freestanding bar in Las Vegas, Atomic Liquors, Derek Stonebarger and his business partner Lance Johns finally discovered why there was a bump in the floor.

“A floor safe from approximately 1945 to 1950,” Stonebarger told FOX5.

Stonebarger and Johns are currently renovating to reopen the bar as The Atomic.

Finding an old safe in a city once ruled by the mob made both men immediately think it could be connected to Jimmy Hoffa, especially since they had just discovered he’d been in the building before.

“We got a call from somebody who claims to be Jimmy Hoffa’s driver while he’s in town and said that they used to hang out here all the time,” Johns said.

But instead of calling Geraldo Rivera, Johns and Stonebarger took a hammer and cracked the safe open.

There was nothing connected to Hoffa inside, but they did find a pile of old receipts from the 1950s, including one for 20 cases of alcohol for just $300.

Stonebarger said today that would cost about $3,000.

One of the receipts also had a phone number that was just three digits long.

Stonebarger and Johns feel one thing they found in the safe will remain timeless, an old newspaper ad they plan to run when the Atomic reopens this spring.

“Atomic Liquors, it says, beer, bar, the coolest spot in town, and that’s it,” Stonebarger said.

Stonebarger said they’ll put those receipts on display and will put a piece of glass over the safe so that everyone will be able to see it.

Atomic Liquors had the first package liquor license permit in Las Vegas.

It originally opened in 1945 as Virginia’s CafĂ©, but the name was changed to Atomic Liquors in 1952 when patrons started using the roof to watch the blasts coming from the then-named Nevada Nuclear Test Site.

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