In May of last year, Dinette Luncheonette was one of two concepts to win a fully built-out restaurant, as part of the Great Las Vegas Coffee Shop Giveaway, a contest put on by Dapper Companies, a real estate development firm in Southern Nevada. Out of more than 90 entries, the team behind Winnie & Ethel’s won the grand prize of a fully funded $950,000 restaurant. But Dapper liked the Dinette submission so much that it gave the trio of Jerad Howard, Nick A. Della Penna, and Trent Jones an available space at the Bend shopping center to open their vintage-style lunch counter in southwest Las Vegas.
The new coffee shop and diner is officially under construction at the Bend, the 158,511-square-foot retail and restaurant development in southwest Las Vegas across from Ikea. The three owners are readying to open Dinette in fall or winter of this year. Della Penna, who has held leadership positions in food and beverage at Caesars Palace and the Excalibur and now owns and operates the Great Greek Mediterranean Grill calls the prize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. “We’ve never done a full diner concept and to go on in with very little risk on the front side takes a lot of the pressure off,” says Della Penna. “There are so many other things we can do with that operating capital that now doesn’t have to go into construction and building.”
Dinette originated when a mutual friend connected Della Penna with Howard, the founder of the local coffee shop, Vesta Coffee Roasters. “Jerad had this diner concept and wanted to bring it to fruition and then Dapper put the giveaway together and a friend connected us,” says Della Penna. “So we met as Vesta with Trent, my partner, and met Jerad and talked about the concept and what are strengths would be. We decided to give it a try.”
After taking Dinette for a test drive at Vegas Test Kitchen, where each of the six finalists tested their coffee shops with pop-up dinners, the trio learned that they won a restaurant of their own and started working on turning their pitch deck into a real diner. Della Penna says that the initial brief for the contest was to create a neighborhood lunch spot in the Huntridge neighborhood that harkened back to Old Vegas with familiar diner fare and a setting like those of drug store lunch counters from the ‘60s and ‘70s. “So we really listened to that and it’s going to be very classic Vegas ‘70s diner feel,” says Della Penna. He describes the food as “elevated but not pretentious.” The working menu right now has buttermilk pancakes and omelets on the breakfast side. For lunch, Dinette will have pastrami Reubens with hand-ground pastrami, burgers with single or double patties, fried chicken, and daily specials like shrimp scampi Monday and roast turkey Thursday.
The interior will be a sunny diner of about 3,200 square feet, plus a large patio for outdoor dining. Wood panels and tables will be accented with teal booths and brushed metal. It will be open from around 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily for breakfast, lunch, and early dinners. Della Penna says that, even though Dinette was developed with the downtown area in mind, he thinks it will still work at the Bend, at Sunset Road and Durango Drive. “It’s a new area of the city, it’s booming, really growing at a rapid pace,” he says. “I don’t think a vintage Vegas thing would only work downtown. There’s enough native Las Vegans who live in the southwest and are looking for that experience.”
Winnie & Ethel’s is already under construction, with plans to open this year in the Huntridge Shopping Center at 1120 E Charleston Boulevard. Dinette Luncheonette will open at the Bend in late 2023.