Welcome to One Year In, a feature in which Eater Vegas talks with the chefs and owners of restaurants celebrating their one-year anniversary.
Wolfgang Puck took a risk and brought his fare off the Strip and into the heart of where Las Vegans live when he opened Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill one year ago in Downtown Summerlin.
"When I, along with my managing partners Tom Kaplan and David Robins, first came to Las Vegas in 1992 for the opening of Spago, we quickly rooted ourselves in the city," Puck said a year ago as the restaurant was debuting. "It has always been important for us to become a part of the community in any location in which we operate. It’s exciting we now have a restaurant in the neighborhood, which is something we have been interested in for quite some time while we searched for the right partner and location."
Now his executive chef Mark Andelbradt looks back on the past year of serving Puck’s comfort food that features a changing menu for lunch, dinner and brunch in the 200-seat restaurant with a look that embraces the look of the neighboring Red Rock Canyon.
[Photo: Amelinda B Lee]
Why open a second Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in Las Vegas at Downtown Summerlin?
I think it was a great opportunity to bring our brand a little closer to our loyal client base, as well as establish ourselves as an anchor of such a great development in Summerlin.
What have you learned in the first year of running the restaurant?
We have learned a lot, mostly that what a tourist-based clientele may want is usually not what a local clientele is looking for. We have a very loyal fan base that dines with us as often as a couple of times a week. Some know what they like and want, while others look forward to the frequent menu changes.
What was the menu testing process like? How is it different here than the other restaurant at the MGM Grand?
The menu is very different from the menu at our MGM location. There are a few items that overlap, but for the most part its original to that specific location. We had a very clear idea of the direction we wanted the menu to follow from the start, which made the tasting and testing process more efficient. We tend to change the menu a little more frequently. The farmers market dictates a lot of that change.
Has Summerlin embraced the restaurant?
Absolutely. I think everyone wants to have a place where they can rely on quality of food, service and atmosphere.
Six months in, what changed?
Downtown Summerlin keeps evolving. Over the past six months there have been even more restaurants and shops that have opened, along with a great farmers market.
What’s the most unexpected thing that happened in the first year?
I don’t really think anything was unexpected. Since we opened our doors, I think we were pretty open-minded to see what exactly would work and what would not.
How about the craziest thing?
The days when we do 1,000 covers between lunch and dinner. Things never stop moving, yet our team just digs in and gets it done with the service and quality our customers have come to expect.
What's the must-order dish of the moment?
The must-order dish of the moment has got to be the spaghetti gargano with crab, serrano chili, garlic, basil, mint and olive oil toasted bread crumbs.
How did the Monday Night Flights work out for you? Will you continue doing them?
Monday Night Flights was a huge success. We thought we could keep it to 40 guests or so, but that quickly grew to the entire restaurant. This is definitely a concept that I see us repeating in the future in one form or another.