Westgate cocktail waitresses remember good old days

Westgate cocktail waitresses remember good old days

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Las Vegas is a city constantly evolving and changing. While the hospitality industry is still the driving economic force, it too has changed. The look, the service but not always the people.

At one point, what’s now the Westgate was the world’s largest hotel. Still, it’s one of the city’s oldest and comes with a storied past and some of the employees have been around to see it all.

If Las Vegas has an unspoken motto — it’s out with the old and in with the new.

The Westgate opened in 1969 as the International Hotel.

The bygone era is just that – history. But if walls could talk, the walls of the Westgate would tell one heck of a story.

Although the walls can’t talk, there are some longtime cocktail waitresses who can.

“When I waited on George Burns, he was so funny. He made me laugh so hard with his cigar and he had a working girl with him. He said, ‘come up to my room and get all my flowers,’” said Betty Ghedini, cocktail waitress.

Cocktail waitress Betty Ghedini and actor George Burns. (Credit: Betty Ghedini)

Ghedini has been serving customers for more than four decades and remembers the early days.

“When I first started in ’79 Kenny Rogers was in the lounge. He was a superstar and he used someone else’s credit card so I didn’t know his name.”

It was a place to see and be seen.

“The best gold. The best jewelry. The best high heels. The best dresses,” Ghedini said.

“It’s changed over the years,” said cocktail waitress Joni Dixon.

And not just the casino’s name.

“We once had tuxedos,” Ghedini said.

Cocktail waitress Joni Dixon (far right) (Credit: Joni Dixon)

“In the sportsbook we had the green outfit, you know with the hat,” Dixon added.

Even the drinks are different.

“Before it was just basic, bourbon coke, bourbon seven, whiskey seven, whatever,” Dixon said.

She has been cocktailing at the property for almost 40 years.

“I started as a bus girl. They promoted me to a food server. I did that for a year. Then when I turned 22, I became a cocktail waitress,” Dixon said.

And over the years, she’s seen it all.

“Sylvester Stallone. He was kind of short. He wasn’t tall. I’ve seen Muhammad Ali. Almost all the fighters,” she said.

The Westgate was home to all the big boxing matches and its showrooms were packed with resident superstars like Liberace.

Cocktail Betty Ghedini and pianist Liberace. (Credit: Betty Ghedini)

“Flamboyant and very, very awesome. Beautiful personality. A lot of warmth in him,” Ghedini said.

Ann Meyer has also been around since its heyday and she said so have a lot of customers.

“We have a lot of people come back here over the years and they’re looking for us. They’re looking for a few familiar faces,” she said. “We’re like family here.”

That keeps these ladies smiling.

“This is where I grew up, basically,” Dixon said.

Grown-up but not ready to hang it up.

“I have to stay active,” Ghedini said.

“I don’t think I’ll retire. I’m just going to keep working until I can’t do it anymore,” Dixon said.

“Maybe one day. Maybe I will. But not for now. Not anytime soon,” Meyer said.

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