Welcome to One Year In, a feature in which Eater Vegas talks with the chefs and owners of restaurants celebrating their first anniversary.
One year ago, chefs and restaurateurs Bruce and Eric Bromberg returned to the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas after a brief hiatus to open Blue Ribbon at the resort. The restaurant took over their former Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill restaurant, which closed last year in January, at the resort. Blue Ribbon happened to debut 25 years after the original in New York City started serving fried chicken, raw bar dishes, and more that have become beloved by fellow chefs and diners alike. Here, Bruce Bromberg shares some of the fun things that have happened at the restaurant since it opened at the Cosmopolitan, and looks to the future.
What made you decide to open Blue Ribbon Las Vegas as a replacement for Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill at the Cosmopolitan?
When presented with the opportunity, we saw a chance to go back to our roots and bring our original concept of the American brasserie to Las Vegas. The reopening happened to fall during our 25th anniversary, so the stars seemed to align.
Why open a different restaurant at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas?
We realized that while we had become known for sushi in Vegas, not many people really knew about how it all began and about the brasserie that significantly changed the dining landscape around the country 25 years ago. We really wanted to revisit the original restaurant and bring it to life for a whole new crowd and city.
What have you learned in the first year of running Blue Ribbon Las Vegas? Is it different from running a sushi bar?
The lesson is the same with every opening. Every single restaurant is an entity on its own and will not be supported on what you have done in the past or even the reputation you have created.
What were you thinking about in terms of design of the restaurant?
As we’ve done for the past 20-plus years, we partnered with Asfour Guzy Architects to create a lively and welcoming yet intimate space. A combination of modern elegance, classic comfort and industrial chic that offers any kind of night and ultimately makes you want to hang out. It is always tricky to take a small restaurant concept like the original Blue Ribbon in New York City and expand it to a larger space. We really focused on making sure the new space embodied the spirit and feel of the original, so when people walked in, they felt like they had arrived at a special place.
Did you change the menu at all? If so, what was the menu testing process like?
For the most part, the menu has remained the same as when we opened, filled with Blue Ribbon favorites that we’ve been serving since 1992. We did add a few new dishes, though and also expanded the raw bar offerings. The opening and menu testing process is always an adventure, but also is how you really create a cohesive menu crafted to fit each and every location.
Has Las Vegas embraced the location?
Yes! The community, which is filled with old and new friends, has welcomed us with open arms.
Six months in, what changed?
I think that we really found our groove, which always takes a while in the restaurant world. We finally honed in on our customers’ wants and desires. Service seemed to gel and the staff has become family and that always leads to a better dining experience for our guests. We have also added an awesome happy hour to our menu where guests can enjoy an array of Blue Ribbon’s signature items such as East and West Coast oysters, hummus, meatball skewers, pu pu platter and so much more. In addition, guests can also enjoy some of our special cocktails, wine, and beer.
How about the craziest thing?
Watching two guests finish two paella Basquez in under one hour! The next night, they came back and did it all over again!
What’s the must-order dish of the moment?
You can’t come to the restaurant and not sample some of the items from the raw bar. We source some of the most unique, tastiest seafood and shellfish items from around the world. We have always wanted Blue Ribbon to be the restaurant that has something for everyone and every occasion, so the best plan is to just order what you feel. Whether it is a burger and a beer, or foie gras, caviar and a bottle of champagne, just go for it and have fun.
What’s on tap for the future?
You’ll be seeing more of us on the West Coast soon.
• All Coverage of Blue Ribbon [ELV]
• All One Year Ins [ELV]