MIKE R. DISTEFANO
HOTEL, RESTAURANT, CASINO, & ENTERTAINMENT MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT
2901 LAS VEGAS BLVD. SO., LAS VEGAS, NV 89109
PHONE: (702) 368-7678 FAX: (702) 733-8152
Riviera Hotel & Casino Resort, Las Vegas, NV., Assistant Entertainment Director/Musician, September 1984-March 1992
• Booked many specialty acts and lounge performers into the Versailles Theater and LeBistro Lounge.
• Oversaw, managed, and directed headlining performer relations and personal valets for numerous performers
including Frank Sinatra, Mickey Rooney, Liza Minnelli, Tony Bennett, George Burns, Norm Crosby, Jay Leno, etc.
• Managed office duties (typed contracts, improved order processing and filing systems in the entertainment department).
• Assisted in management of physical logistics in showrooms - acted as Personal Assistant to the Vice-President of Entertainment.
• House Cocktail Pianist! (Gourmet Dinner Buffet, Kristofer's Restaurant, 'Top of the Riv' private functions, Riviera Wedding Chapel)
Douglas Mac-Valley Stunts, Inc., Regional Marketing Director, Manager and Performer, Las Vegas, NV June 1985-1992
• Oversaw, managed, controlled and directed all marketing for the "Globe of Death Motorcycle Spectacular" specialty act.
• Booked act in various engagements including state fairs, auto shows, the "Splash" show at the Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las
Vegas, NV, and the ABC hit television series "Incredible Sunday!" (1988)
• Managed and paid salaries to employees.
• Produced, directed, filmed and edited all videography of acts.
• Booked and managed numerous international contracts and engagements overseas (television shows, circuses, revues, etc.).
• Assistant Producer of "Coliseum of Thrills" stunt production show.
• Performed in act.
Murillo International Artists, Inc./Unique Entertainment, Inc., Company Manager, Chief Videographer, and Assistant Performer, Las Vegas, NV June 1986-1988
• Helped book and manage acts in various engagements including the stage revue "Splashdance" at the Genting's Highlands Resort
in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the stage revue "Galaxies" at the Jupiter's Hilton Hotel & Casino in Brisbane, Australia, Asahi T.V.
specials in Tokyo, Japan, and the Tihany Circus in Guadalajara, Mexico.
• Managed and paid salaries to employees.
• Filmed and edited all demo videography of specialty acts.
• Helped book and manage numerous international contracts and engagements overseas (television shows, circuses, revues, etc.).
• Assisted in performance of unicycling/juggling/high-wire/aerial acts.
Riverside Hotel & Casino Resort, Laughlin, NV., Producer, and Entertainment Consultant, June 1989-August 1989.
• Designed, wrote, directed, produced, and booked the quarter-million dollar, ninety-minute, stage production show "Stararama."
• Managed and oversaw the issuance of salaries to all employees of production company.
• Managed all physical logistics in showroom.
• Wrote and oversaw all contracts between Producer and Riverside Hotel & Casino Resort.
• Managed, directed, and oversaw the marketing and promotion of show; both independently and in cooperation with the marketing
department of the Riverside Hotel & Casino Resort.
Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc., Entertainer/Cocktail Pianist and Passenger Activities Assistant, Caribbean Sea, July-September 1992
• Performed live solo cocktail piano music, evenings, six nights per week aboard the Carnival cruise ship "Ecstasy's" various dining
rooms, bars, and lounges, including the Windstar Dining Room, the Neon Bar, and the Society Lounge.
• Assisted in the ship's passenger activities during afternoons, (i.e., water contests, Bingo, raffles, etc.).
- additional experience as a professional musician ( solo and ensemble piano) includes:
Amici's Restaurant, Las Vegas, NV, March-July 1992
• Performed live solo cocktail piano music, evenings, five nights per week in the dining room.
Gourmet Dinner Buffet at the Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV, March 1989-March 1992
• Performed live solo cocktail piano music, evenings, six nights per week in the gourmet dinner buffet dining room.
Kristofer's Restaurant at the Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV, May-August 1988
• Performed live solo cocktail piano music, evenings, five nights per week in the restaurant lounge.
Orso's Restaurant, Chicago, IL, October 1987-May 1988
• Performed live solo cocktail piano music, six nights per week in the restaurant lounge.
Doro's Restaurant, Chicago, IL, May-August 1984
• Performed live solo cocktail piano music, weekends, in the restaurant lounge.
"High Roller" parties (dozens)
• "Top of the Riv" Ballroom at the Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
• Desert Inn Ballroom
• Caesar's Palace Ballroom
• Bally's in Atlantic City, NJ
• the Playboy Hotel & Casino, in Atlantic City, NJ
• The Riviera Wedding Chapel at the Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
• Chapels and hotels all over Las Vegas and Chicago
• "Keep Smilin' America," at Harrah's, Las Vegas, NV (piano accompanist/conductor for star singer impressionist, Bob Anderson) 1990 & 1992
• "Solid Gold" & "Splash," at the Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV (substitute pianist)
• Spotlite Magazine Feature. 1990
• Downbeat International Magazine award for Outstanding Performance on Jazz Piano. 1986
• New Trier Jazz Festival Award for Outstanding Musical Achievement. 1984
• Eight First-Place Gold Medals in the Wisconsin State Music Competition on voice, concert-snare, timpani, drum set, piano, concert band
(percussion-1st chair of 12), and jazz band (drum set) 2 years in a row. 1982-1983
• Scholarship - Interlochen National Music Camp. 1983
• Instrumentalist Magazine Award for Outstanding Musicianship. 1983
• Wisconsin Federation of Music Clubs Merit Award. 1982
• National Music Federation Festivals Honor Award. 1981, 1982, & 1983
• National Federation of Music Clubs Superior Rating on solo piano for three consecutive years. 1981, 1982, 1983
MRD Productions, Inc., Entertainment Consultant and Manager, Las Vegas, NV., June 1993-present
• Advise clients regarding career opportunities and advancements.
• Accomplish bookings/contracts for various engagements.
• Assisted in booking name artists such as Frankie Avalon, Al Martino, etc., into the Festa Italiano in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the
late '90's-early 2000's.
• Write and interpret contracts.
• Tend to all office duties and managerial tasks (scanning, filing, organizing, ordering, typing, receiving and sending faxes, word
processing, computer programming, and handling contracts, etc.).
CLICK ON ANY PORTION OF ANY ITEM TO VIEW THAT PARTICULAR PORTION'S CORRESPONDING INFORMATION
(I.E., CLICKING ON THE GRADUATION YEAR ENABLES VIEWING OF CORRESPONDING DEGREE/DIPLOMA, ETC.)
Certificate Of Achievement-Hotel Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Associate Of Applied Science-Hotel/Industry Security-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Associate Of Applied Science-Hotel Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Bachelor Of Science Hotel Administration-UNLV-National Omnicron Psi Honors-2004
Master Of Science Hotel Administration-UNLV-National Omnicron Psi Honors-2007
Bartending Course Certificate-Certified Bartender-National Bartenders School-1997
Practical Bar Management Course Certificate-Certified Bar Manager-National Bartenders School-1997
Bar & Beverage Mgt Course Certificate-Certified Bar Manager-American Hotel & Motel Association-Academic Honors-1997
Techniques Of Alcohol Management Training Course Certificate-Certified Server/Seller-TAM/Nevada-1997
Foodservice Operations Management Course Certificate-Cert. Restaurant Manager-National Restaurant Association-2000
Purchasing For Foodservice Managers Course Certificate-Certified Food Purchaser-National Restaurant Association-2000
ServSafe Training Course Certificate-Certified Food Protection Manager-National Restaurant Association-1999
International Food Safety Council Membership Certification-1999
Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Point Course Certificate-HAACP Certification-National Restaurant Association-2000
Menu Planning Course Certificate-Certified MenuPro Specialist-CCSN-1999 View my menus: "DISTEFANO'S" "VEGA$ CAFE"
Foodhandler Course Health Card-Certified Foodhandler-Clark County Health District Nevada-1998
Culinary Union Membership Card-Culinary Workers Union, Local #226-1998
Food Server Course Certificate-Certified Food Server-Southern Nevada Culinary & Bartenders Training Center-1998
Certificate Of Achievement-Food And Beverage Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Associate Of Applied Science-Food And Beverage Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Roulette Dealing Course Certificate-Certified Roulette Dealer-Casino Gaming School Of Southern Nevada-1997
Baccarrat Dealing Course Certificate-Certified Baccarrat Dealer-Casino Gaming School Of Southern Nevada-1997
Blackjack Dealing Course Certificate-Certified Blackjack Dealer-Casino Gaming School Of Southern Nevada-1997
Craps Dealing Course Certificate-Certified Craps Dealer-Casino Gaming School Of Southern Nevada-1997
Poker Dealing Course Certificate-Certified Poker Dealer-Casino Gaming School Of Southern Nevada-1997
Pai Gow Poker Course Certificate-Certified Pai Gow Poker Dealer-Casino Gaming School Of Southern Nevada-1997
Pai Gow Tiles Course Certificate-Certified Pai Gow Tiles Dealer-Casino Gaming School Of Southern Nevada-1998
Certificate Of Achievement-Casino Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-1999
Associate Of Applied Science-Casino Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-1999
Certificate Of Achievement-Travel & Tourism-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2003
Associate Of Applied Science-Travel & Tourism-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2002
Associate Of General Studies-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-1999
Associate Of Arts-Liberal Arts-CCSN-1997
Associate Of Arts-Communications-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2002
Associate Of Arts-Broadcasting-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2003
Associate Of Applied Science-Accounting-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Associate Of Applied Science-Finance-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2003
Certificate Of Achievement-Business Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Associate Of Business-CCSN-Phi Theta-Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Associate Of Applied Science-Business Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Bachelor Of Science Business Administration-Operations Management-UNLV-National Omnicron Psi Honors-1999
Master Of Business Administration MBA-UNLV-National Omnicron Psi Honors-2007
Associate Of Applied Science-International Business Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2003
Associate Of Applied Science-Public Sector Relations Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2001
Associate Of Applied Science-Small Business Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Associate Of Applied Science-Human Resource Management-CCSN-Phi Theta Kappa-Summa Cum Laude-2000
Bachelor Of Science Business Administration-Human Resource Management-UNLV-National Omnicron Psi Honors-2000
Juris Doctorate-UNLV WSBSOL-2002
Honorary member of the Alpha Xi Beta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society
Honorary member of the National Omnicron Psi Honor Society
Special Mayoral Honors for Outstanding Academic Achievement, Las Vegas, NV. May 2000
National Dean's List 2000, 2003
Dr. John Schibrowsky, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Marketing, UNLV
Bob Maheu, Chief Financial Officer, Howard Hughes Corp., Personal Financial Advisor to Howard Hughes
Dov Odents, Vice-President of Food and Beverage, Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Lorraine Hunt, Lieutenant Governor of the U.S. State of Nevada
Jan Catalano, Vice-President, Riviera Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Anthony Cocco, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Accounting, UNLV
Claudina A. Vespia, OPC, Marketing Consultant, Grandview Marketing, Inc.
Bernard B. Zadrowski, Deputy District Attorney, Clark County, Nevada
Michael Strong, Attorney, U.S. Sentencing Commission, Judicial Clerk, 4th Dist. Court of Appeals, UNLV Law Professor
Joan C. Gillen, Food and Beverage Consultant, National Bartenders Association
Professor Dina Zemke, College of Hotel Administration, UNLV
Dan Paymar, Casino Management Consultant, Poker Dealer Instructor, Casino Gaming School, Las Vegas, NV
Dr. Robert M. Silverman, Ph.D, President CCSN
Dr. Janet B. Runge, Ph.D., MBA Program, UNLV
Vicky C. Dominguez, Associate Professor of Accounting, CCSN
Joseph R. Niemiec, Chairman, Dept. Of Public Safety & Human Services, CCSN
Douglas MacValley, President and Owner, Douglas MacValley Stunts, Inc.
I have been living and working in the hotel, restaurant, casino,
entertainment, and resort industry my entire life. To give you a
better idea of what my background is actually like, I have to tell
you first about my upbringing, which was quite unique.
I was born an only child to Sam and Pam Distefano. My mother
worked as an airline stewardess for Eastern Airlines in the fabulous,
"self-discovering" sixties! She divorced my father in the late seventies
when I was only 8 years old. My grandmother on my father's side, my
father himself, my uncles and Godfathers (all of whom were Sicilian
bachelors) raised me on the south side of Chicago and in Lake
Why Lake Geneva, you say?
Well, because there was a Playboy Hotel & Country Club Resort there,
You see, my father worked for Playboy for over 25 years.
He opened the first Playboy Club for Mr. Hefner in Chicago on Walton
St., in the late fifties as the house pianist and musical director. He also
worked at the Miami Playboy Club in those same positions until 1968
when the company completed construction of the 2300-acre Playboy
Resort in Lake Geneva where he took over as Entertainment Director.
Eventually my father became the Vice President of Entertainment for
the entire chain of Playboy Clubs and Hotels, International.
This made for quite an exceptionally educational experience for an 8
year old child - not to mention a very glamourous and exciting one!
But the reason I mention this is because Hugh Hefner only hired the
very best in every department. For instance, Henri Lorenzi and Victor
Lownes were in charge of the hotels and casinos. These were two very
top legends in their respective fields. And of course, Arnold Morton of
"Morton's Steakhouse, Hardrock, Tony Roma's" fame, was consulted
on the food and beverage aspects of the Playboy empire.
My father used to take me everywhere with him and consequently, we
would stay and sometimes live for extended periods of time, in the top
suites of all the Playboy resorts, literally around the entire world.
Getting to know all of these then-reigning, top-tiered, hotel executives
and spending so much time with them, afforded me the unique
opportunity to witness firsthand on a 24hr basis, the day-to-day
operations of some of the largest, most successful hotels and casinos
in the world. What better or more intimate way to directly learn and
experience how the very best casino resorts are run?
After my father's 25-year successful run with Playboy, he was
contacted by corporate conglomerate tycoon, Meshulem Riklis of
"McCrory/Rapid American" fame, to head the entertainment
department at his billion dollar mega-casino resort, the legendary
Riviera Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. As the Vice-President of
Entertainment and Special Events there, my father succeeded in
booking top name performers into the "Riv," such as Frank Sinatra,
Paul Anka, Milton Berle, George Burns, Bob Hope, and Liza Minnelli, to
name more than a few! Additionally, he co-produced and booked four
major shows into the "Riv," including the "An Evening at LaCage"
show, the "An Evening at the Improv" comedy club, the sexy "Crazy
Girls" revue, and the multi-million dollar stage production show,
"Splash" which he associate-produced. Fortunately, I was priviliged
enough to have been afforded the incredible opportunity to be his
personal assistant throughout all of these successful and exciting
Of special note is the fact that we lived and actually permanently
resided in the Riviera the entire time we were employed there. Again,
this made for uniquely exceptional educational insight into resort
operations that even few executive hoteliers have the opportunity to
experience! If you've never permanently lived in a hotel, try to
imagine for a moment the trade secrets and industry perspectives
you'd unavoidably gain by residing on the same hotel premises, 24 hrs
per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year, for practically an entire
After our successful, nearly decade-long association with the Riviera,
my father and I went on to successfully manage our own entertain-
ment consulting firm. But many of these shows continued to run
at the "Riv" long after my father's retirement - some to even this
I knew from as far back as I can remember, that I wanted to follow in
my father's footsteps and pursue a career in the hotel/entertainment
industry. But I can still remember to this day, my father's and even
Mr. Riklis' counseling on the matter and their subsequent emphases
on the importance of education.
Well, as you can see from my resume, I took this quite literally and
worked my way through many years of college and vocational courses
to expand and improve my knowledge base. Mr. Riklis used to always
tell me that there is no such thing as "too much education." But
rather, that it is an "infinite process" that begins the moment we "exit
the womb," and continues until the day "God calls us home." It is true
at least for myself, that the more I learn, the more I realize how little I
Quite apparently, I am a firm believer that in the hotel industry
especially, one needs to have training, experience, and education in
all aspects of operations - from HR and front desk to food and
beverage and V.I.P. services; from casino operations and accounting,
to entertainment and security and risk management, etc. It is more
challenging today than ever before to advance in executive positions
without more job-rotation, experience, and education in every
department. Why? Because they are all intertwined! In a hotel casino
resort especially, it is simply not possible for the operations of one
department to not affect the operations of all the others.
Most importantly, I feel that for many indirectly related reasons, the
quality of customer service in the hospitality industry has suffered
greatly. A city like Las Vegas tends to get away with that more often
because of the continually immeasurable volume of "first-time"
visitors to the gaming destination. As a result, many Las Vegas resorts
that provide sub-standard quality of customer service (particularly in
the food and beverage departments) still manage to survive and even
retain profitability without having to rely as much on return
But that is changing. With the rapid growth of newly arriving
competition, the current economic crisis, and national security issues,
Las Vegas is faced with unprecedented challenges in hospitality
operations. But they are not ones that are insurmountable. With
dedicated professional hospitality managers and executives who
possess a genuine passion, truly care, and understand about the
significance of "the customer first," Las Vegas can continue to thrive at
the top of the list of world class resort destinations.
I hope you have found this interactive resume to be as useful,
informative, interesting and fun as it was for me to compile and
If you have any questions at all whatsoever, please do not hesitate to
contact me and/or any references! It is always a pleasure to welcome
those with a mutual interest in the industry!
Thank you very much!