It’s afternoon on Thursday, March 19, in southwest Las Vegas, two days after Gov. Steve Sisolak announced that all restaurants and bars in Las Vegas had to close, but could remain open with carryout, delivery, and drive-thru services. Some restaurants closed temporarily, while many remained open with a makeshift staff completing orders and keeping customers fed.
Drive thru and fast food business are king right now. What once were the hot spots are now empty.
Eater Vegas photographer Louiie Victa drove through the neighborhood to see what restaurants were doing. The scene, while devastating, showed some signs of life. Restaurants in the southwest are trying, but not in full swing.
Chef Nicole Brisson at Locale Italian Kitchen in Mountain’s Edge choked up as she talked about her decision to offer curbside service. “It’s way harder than I thought it would be,” she said. She started selling her wholesale meats at cost to help out Las Vegans who can’t get fresh proteins.
Brisson worked at Eataly at the Park MGM and the former Carnevino at the Palazzo before she opened Locale with Andy Hooper last summer. Some of her former employees on the Strip who were laid off saw that Brisson was struggling and volunteered to help. “We made [a] family meal that day but got too busy to eat it. We invited the prep cooks we laid off to come pick it up for their families,” she says of a meal she put together on Thursday.
A humble staff of four now runs The Black Sheep, the upscale American-Vietnamese serving comfort plates. “I’m trying to support my staff,” chef Jaime Tran says. “I wanted to give them some hours so that they can have some income coming in. Any profit that’s coming each day, it’s going straight to the employees.”
Tran says she’s more hopeful since a steady stream of dinner orders arrived for curbside pickup.
Neighbor SkinnyFats, the casual restaurant with breakfast, burgers, and salads, continued to offer its happy and healthy menu for curbside pickup.
Along Blue Diamond Road, Oming’s Kitchen, The Chicken Shack, and Mazzoa Donuts remain open for takeout. Once in a while, a lonely car would pull up and grab takeout. A few customers trickled into Oming’s, where owner Salome Pilas reported a shortage of rice for her Filipino food on social media.
Businesses along South Rainbow Boulevard offer a mixture of open and closed restaurants. Fausto’s Mexican Grill is closed with a handwritten note in the door, but BurgerIM with its fast-casual burgers, Blue Bei Sushi & Grill with a roster of sushi and handrolls, and L&L Hawaiian Barbecue with its Hawaiian menu of lunch plates, loco moco, and Spam musubi opened for takeout.
Colin Fukunaga, who owns FukuBurger with its Japanese burgers in the southwest and in Chinatown kept his restaurant open for takeout and delivery from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, but he’s still playing with hours.
“We only to fight to stay open if it is in compliance with the rules of the Nevada governor,” Fukunaga says. “Most of the employees’ parents have lost their jobs and are now the bread winners in the house. We are definitely losing money. But if we can manage to get near break even, it’s worth it to help.”
Neighboring Suzuya Patisserie with its Japanese pastries such as green tea log cakes and yuzu panna cotta remained open for takeout last week, but opted to close starting on Monday. Firefly closed before the governor announced the restaurants had to temporarily close.
Chef Marc Marrone at Graffiti Bao with its menu of fast-casual Chinese dining was a bit more upbeat considering the situation. He’s offering free lunches for kids, pickup, and delivery through PostMates, staying open so he can continue to pay his employees. On Sunday night, he announced that he’s working with Shetakis Wholesalers, which is opening it doors for customers to order meat and produce at wholesale. “We will be coordinating two to three weekly orders where you can fill the guide out, place your order, and when you arrive to Graffiti Bao at the designated times,” he says. Staff loaded the car as he spoke.
The stretch south of the 215 hosts a battalion of Asian restaurants. Along Warm Springs Road, Japaneiro remains open for pick up orders of its sushi dishes.
Jenni Pho on South Rainbow Boulevard remains open for takeout while Jollibee with its Filipino fried chicken and spaghetti kept the drive-thru running, getting traction from the neighboring Smith’s grocery store.
Even Korean barbecues, traditionally places that serve meats cooked at the table, remained open to get rid of their remaining inventory. Goong Korean Barbecue sold meat and kimchi to go.