Guerrilla Pizza Co. has closed up shop at the Hard Hat Lounge and big things are in store for the pizza maker and the historic bar. The downtown dive bar is closing temporarily to undergo some much-needed renovations and the pizzaiolo behind the Detroit-style pies is stepping away, ushering in a new eatery to the bar’s kitchen.
The Hard Hat Lounge has closed for renovations and when it reopens later this summer, the Detroit-style deep dish pies that co-owner Robby Cunningham has been slinging over the counter to hungry patrons won’t return. But don’t fret pizza fans, Guerrilla is expected to return to a larger Las Vegas location later this year — quite possibly in the Arts District.
Cunningham says he made the decision to move on and part ways with friend and business partner Frank Sidoris after “a lot of contemplating and conversation.” Sidoris, a musician with Slash’s band and the bar’s former co-owner, is taking over the bar entirely. After two and a half years of working out of the Hard Hat’s kitchen, Cunningham says he’s simply outgrown the space and is setting his sights on a larger kitchen to meet the demand for his square pies with their crispy crust, chewy edges, three types of cheese, and two stripes of red sauce. In the meantime, Cunningham says he’ll spend the next couple months working to develop a pizza concept back in his home state at Yard & Lake in Northport, Michigan, while searching for a new landing spot in Las Vegas.
“It breaks my heart to let anybody down,” Cunningham wrote on social media. “Please understand that again, this decision isn’t an easy one, but it’s necessary for my career path. I just want you all to know that this truly is not a goodbye.” The news was bittersweet to Sidoris, who wants to see his friend succeed but was sad to see him leave. “I’ve been Robby’s biggest cheerleader,” the Las Vegas native says. “I’ve been spreading the word on tour and just to everyone who likes pizza to let them know that they have to go get it from Robby. It’s still my favorite pizza in town and I know once he finds the proper space and staff he needs, he’ll be doing really great things.”
The 61-year-old bar temporarily is closed as of Monday, April 24 to undergo much-needed structural renovations to the old building’s foundation and to fix some plumbing issues. When the two friends took over the bar in October of 2022, they did so knowing that they would soon have to contend with clearing out the bar’s excessive cables, repairing the plumbing, and fixing the lighting. Sidoris says the look and feel of the bar won’t be touched. The renovations are expected to take about a month to complete. He’s eyeing the first week of June for a grand reopening party. Preparation for a one-year anniversary bash in October is already in the works.
“We’re not changing any of the art. We’re not changing anything that makes the bar the bar,” Sidoris says. “It’s going to look the same. It’s just an old building. It’s one of the three oldest bars in Vegas. We can’t change anything that makes it special. We have to change out the pipes and a lot of other little things. It caught up with us, but I’m happy to do it because Hard Hat needed it. And it will only make the place better.”
When it does reopen, Hard Hat’s kitchen will be run by Bobby Meader, owner of Stay Tuned Burgers. No stranger to the bar’s patio, where he flipped burgers on Monday jazz nights, Meader will now have a permanent setup to serve his smashed-style beef patties, which come smothered in drippy cheese. He’ll also dish out tots, vegan burgers, and grilled cheese sandwiches upon opening.
Meader, who says he’s “super stoked” for the opportunity, started Stay Tuned Burgers as a pop-up in his backyard, feeding friends and taking orders through Instagram to grow a following. It landed him a gig with Vegas Test Kitchen where he obtained even more exposure, before meeting Sidoris through Cunningham.
“When I knew Robby was leaving, I reached out to Bobby right away. He told us it was his dream to have his own kitchen,” Sidoris says. “He’s a mainstay in the community. He had been here every week for months. I’m thrilled.” Sidoris also revealed that the Hard Hat Lounge will be getting its gaming license sometime in June or July and will install 15 video poker machines. Once gaming is in place, he envisions offering food 24 hours a day. The bar will remain non-smoking. Hard Hat Lounge is located at 1675 South Industrial Road.