Just as spring was about to arrive in Las Vegas and the coronavirus pandemic threatened to close restaurants across Nevada, Dan Krohmer, the chef behind Other Mama, Hatsumi, and La Monja, accepted former Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s offer to spend a week in Park City, Utah.
“I was miserable with taking the restaurant down to takeout only,” Krohmer recalls. He just bought a farm in Pahrump last year and moved there with his dog to raise produce meant for use in his restaurants when his swamp cooler broke, leaving him hot and wondering what to do next with his life.
At the time, Krohmer wanted to get to know Hsieh better and hear his thoughts on Fergusons Downtown, the former motel Hsieh’s Downtown Project renovated and converted into boutiques, restaurants, and an Airstream park. Krohmer’s Japanese izakaya Hatsumi and Baja-inspired Mexican restaurant La Monja opened at the front of the project last year.
One week turned into longer, and Krohmer started cooking dinner for Hsieh and his friends. Krohmer says he offered to do it for free if he could buy whatever ingredients he wanted and hire some help. “It was the first time I enjoyed cooking for a long time,” says Krohmer, who added that he felt like he spread himself too thin by opening two restaurants in one year. “I haven’t felt like this for a long time.”
This week, Hsieh offered to buy all three of his restaurants in Las Vegas as well as the farm in Pahrump so Krohmer can become his head of food and beverage in Park City. Krohmer says his general manager at his outstanding seafood resaturant Other Mama, Allen Holmes, will own 25 percent of that restaurant.
“I literally still have my dog in the boarding kennel,” the chef says on the phone as he’s on the road with Hsieh on a touring bus, an experience that recalls Krohmer’s previous career catering for musicians at Coachella and the Vans Warped Tour, as well as while on tour with musical acts including Taylor Swift, Neil Young, Jay Z, Godsmack, and Metallica.
With experience at Morimoto in Philadelphia and at Japanese Cuisine by Omae in Chinatown, Krohmer opened Other Mama in 2015 and the restaurant quickly earned accolades including a spot on the Eater 38, while Krohmer was named Eater Vegas’ chef of the year in 2016 and a finalist for the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef Southwest this year.
In Park City, Krohmer says Hsieh wants to bring more arts, culture, and food to the city. Hsieh retired from Zappos, the online shoe company he founded in 1999, this week. “He’s going through an immense amount of change. I respect his vision,” Krohmer says. “I want to get lost again so I can find the next version of myself.”
A long goodbye from Krohmer is not in the cards. Hatsumi and La Monja already reclosed at Fergusons Downtown while Other Mama continues to offer takeout. “I’ve always been better at Irish goodbyes.”
• All Coverage of Other Mama [ELV]
• All Coverage of Hatsumi [ELV]
• All Coverage of La Monja [ELV]