Green Valley Ranch’s steakhouse has served as a beacon to Henderson residents looking for fine dining. When Hank’s Fine Steaks & Martinis opened in 2005, parent company Station Casinos wanted to open an over-the-top steakhouse that was still welcoming and affordable for local guests. John Bray, the resort’s director of food and beverage, opened the restaurant as the property’s executive chef. Here he talks about some of the crazy things that have happened over the past 10 years, where Hank’s got its name and more.
Who is Hank?
Hank Greenspun was the publisher of the Las Vegas Sun Newspaper and owned much of the land where Green Valley Ranch is now located. The family originally was in a partnership with Station Casinos when Green Valley Ranch opened and so Hank’s name was chosen. ‘Til this day, I am sure to pay respect to Mr. Hank Greenspun, who passed on in 1989.
What have you learned in the first 10 years of running Hank’s?
It’s the most impressive restaurant in the valley from the fine Czech crystals to the warm wood décor. Hank’s continues serving the finest ingredients available, and we can’t forget the 2,500-bottle wine list and the greatest martinis ever. The core of the menu has remained consistent, however, there are seasonal changes along with the steak and seafood menus always evolving to match the finest ingredients in the market at the time. We have 28-day wet aged, dry aged, Wagyu and grass fed meats and we recently added bison filets. We cater to repeat locals and tourists that stay in our hotel. It's very important that we stay consistent and also remain on the cutting edge. Hank’s happy hour is one of the best in town with half-priced premium martinis. Because of this, you may have a hard time getting a seat in the bar during happy hour on Fridays, so be sure to come early. We also have extensive continuous training and educational programs such as a foodie Fridays, a weekly huddle where we take the chef or our wine sommelier and educate the staff on service, fresh ingredients or to refresh wine knowledge.
What were you thinking about in terms of the design of the restaurant?
I love the design; it’s one of the only steakhouses in town where the bar is totally separate from the restaurant. You can have the best of both worlds, an experience at the bar with live entertainment or a more intimate booth in our dining room, or better yet both. The lighting with the Czech crystals is spectacular and accents all the warm dark woods. The show kitchen is most visible from anywhere. The polished 2,500-bottle wine storage rooms tower over the bar and dining room. Then there is the glassed enclosed fireplace that is the main center attraction of the dining room.
Has Vegas embraced the restaurant? How?
I would say, word of mouth through locals has been the most successful piece to our restaurant, along with the warm comfortable atmosphere and serving the best quality seasonal ingredients. We have a fantastic management staff with a great chef in Luigi Iannuario and our general manager Brook Stanford is over the top, and best of all the great team members, many who have been there since day one. Ninety percent of our business is repeat guests because of the hard work my team puts in every day.
What’s change recently at the restaurant? How have the crowds changed? How do you address that?
Every year we get busier and busier. Our job is to win our new guests over and keep them coming back. We have extended the variety of meats and seafood offered, along with recently updating our plated fish presentations to more of a composed dish versus just fish on a plate. We always keep the cocktail menu exciting, recently adding the top 100 martinis from the past 10 years on a menu, and will be looking at tweaking the happy hour menu soon. We’ve also become a destination for special events and have two spectacular private dining rooms. The menu has a fine balance of the original guest favorites combined with cutting edge plated dishes.
What’s the most unexpected thing that happened over the past 10 years?
The fire suppression system went off one day right before we were opening for service and flooded the whole kitchen line for no apparent reason. Needless to say, we were closed for several hours.
How about the craziest thing?
Canadian pop singer Suzie McNeil from Loving Mary was a guest at the restaurant and got up and sang three tunes with the entertainer scheduled that night and was just amazing. They got everyone's attention including our dining room guests, who got up to see what was going on.
What's the must-order dish of the moment?
Wow, that’s a great question! I personally love the prime bone-in rib eye or the table side finished Dover sole and you can't go wrong with our signature steakhouse chopped salad
If you were coming to Hank’s for the first time, what would you tell diners to order?
The kale salad or hearts of palm are both amazing, for fish the big eye tuna is lighter but serves a great portion, the filets can be ordered dry aged, bone-in, Wagyu or grass fed. Or, if someone really wanted to be out of the box, try a bison filet that’s grass fed.
What's on tap for the future?
Like I said, tweaking the happy hour menu, and stay tuned for new developments as we keep Hank’s on the cutting edge.