This year has been huge for the Las Vegas culinary scene thanks in part to major happenings on the Strip. While the action on the Boulevard is great, I couldn’t be more thrilled to see how the suburbs are booming, from Downtown and Henderson to the Southwest and Chinatown, and of course, Summerlin and the west side.
I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the past 16 years watching this city grow. When I came here the focus was on the Strip, and the intense competition and imagination that began to transform the city. This evolution turned Las Vegas into the dining destination it is today. But over time restaurants like Vintner Grill, Rosemary’s, Nora’s, DW Bistro, Marche Bacchus and Due Forni paved the way for the movement of great culinary talent into our backyards.
Some huge names that seem to have been Strip-centric—Wolfgang Puck and the Light Group—are venturing out to other parts of the city, certainly a sign of the direction Las Vegas is heading. What’s cooler is that some restaurants are even enticing casino customers to hop in a cab and hit neighborhood restaurants that have received well-deserved national attention.
In the past two years we’ve been lucky to be part of this growth with Honey Salt and most recently Made L.V., a casual bar and tavern concept we recently opened at Tivoli Village. Up for next year, we open Andiron Steak and Sea in the newly launched Downtown Summerlin. It’s beyond imagination to think of how far our very own neighborhood has come in terms of dining.
Moving off-Strip also comes with an eye-opening learning curve: What do our customers look like, and how do we serve them the best we can so we see them again and again and again? Our customers become like family, whether they’re coming in for brunch, a lunch meeting or celebrating birthdays and anniversaries. It’s incredible to have repeat customers who become new friends. That’s something you don’t experience very often on the Strip with its transient nature.
We’ve been lucky enough that we have these remarkable neighborhood locations, but we also have Simon at Palms Place, my first restaurant venture with the indomitable Kerry Simon, and Buddy V’s in the heart of the Strip, so we truly get the best of both worlds. But being in the ’burbs gives you a chance to strengthen ties to the community, whether launching creative charitable efforts to give back or hosting a book club on a Thursday afternoon. It’s nice to be home.