Sparkling lights, slot machines and a cardboard cutout of Elvis Presley greet people at the Little Vegas Wedding Chapel and Theater in ViaPort Rotterdam.
It feels like you could be in Las Vegas and that’s the idea, said owner Bill McGrath.
“People can do the Vegas experience right here in New York,” McGrath said.
McGrath — who has been doing Elvis impersonations for 20 years– said many people had remarked that he looked like “The King of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” so he decided to take it up.
The Rotterdam native said he’s done shows and been at weddings in the past but wanted to have a little location locally so he could officiate weddings.
“All I wanted was a little place to make a kitschy little thing,” he said.
But with 5,600 square feet of space in the old American Eagle location he had tons of room for other stuff, so he added to it, making it a place for bigger events too.
“There’s tons of potential,” McGrath said,
People can come in for a quick wedding where they can get married by Elvis or another officiant. The basic wedding package is $499, according to the company’s website. McGrath said couples who do get married get a photo, video and a T-shirt to remember the occasion. He said a wedding can be done about every 45 minutes and the business is able to stay open until midnight because the movie theater is open until then.
There’s also the option to hold the reception at the venue because McGrath was able to add in a stage and seating. Catering is available, McGrath said, noting they are working with Brown’s Catering, also known as Backyard BBQ in Scotia.
Behind the bar where mocktails are served is a Las Vegas sign, just another detail added in to give the feeling of a Vegas wedding chapel.
“We want you to come in and go, ‘Holy crap! This place is cool,’” McGrath said.
But the place isn’t only for weddings. He’s fashioned it toward bus tours, garnering interest from those who want to stop and see a show and then head over to places like Rivers Casino.
He already held one show on Dec. 19, when it opened up.
“It went well,” he said.
McGrath’s mind is also wandering toward hosting larger events like bridal shows and even pageants.
“We got it set up to do anything,” he said.
He’s already booking into February for events and weddings, with Valentine’s Day quickly filling up, he said.
Next up for the business is a New Year’s Eve celebration where McGrath will appear as Elvis.
He said while it’s great the business is taking off he definitely needs more staff. Right now he’s working with a skeleton crew of four people.
“I’d like to have 10,” he said.
ViaPort General Manager Terri Edmond is excited about the new addition to the mall which has been trying to bring in more businesses since it was taken over in 2016 by Turkish international retail developer Via Properties.
“Retail, it’s just not where it used to be, so we’ve looked at other options,” she said. “It’s something different.”
Because it’s not something you’d typically see in a mall and offers people something else to do, Edmond said, she believes it will bring in more foot traffic. She said people can go shopping, eat at one of the restaurants and then catch a show at the business.
The ViaPort is a great location too, McGrath said, noting he’s right off of Interstate 890 and the Thruway.
The best part, he said, is people from throughout New York, nearby states, and even Canada can come to the chapel/theater instead of having to go to Las Vegas.
“We’re going to try and put the mall back on the map,” McGrath said.