How We Became The Locals’ Favorite Steak Restaurant
A great start of a journey
After having great success with Al Hubbard’s Steak House in Brooklyn, NY in 1988, myself (Tom G) moved back to Las Vegas, to pursue a music career. My brother, Chef Al followed a year later. We were working in the hospitality industry for several years when we realized that the older we got – the chance of being replaced by a younger generation was becoming an obvious reality. By 2006, the economy was looking promising for business growth and the thought of trying our style of restaurant seemed like a great opportunity. Hence Off the Strip was born.
Things didn’t go smoothly at first. For seven months we struggled without a liquor license and were serving our entrees on black plastic disposable plates, which became kind of a goofy trend. (Yeah, our customers actually found it charming!) Together with the Beef Wellington, Chicken Parmesan and Rigatoni Bolognese sliding around the plates, the looks from customers we would get have always been priceless.
After seven months of expecting a liquor license, we were making noticeable impressions in the community with the surprising quality and value of Chef Al ‘s food. Although we had some friends believing in our potential, we were quickly losing money. By August 2008, we were burnt out and the hope of the wine and beer license arriving in time to stimulate the needed revenue to support business seemed bleak. We decided to make a pause for a couple of weeks in order to save enough to pay rent. On the other side, Chef desperately needed time to recharge his batteries and get inspired again. We put a sign on the door that said, “Gone Fishing! See you soon” and took off to Miami to visit family.
We rang the doorbell surprising the whole family, having only told them we had sent Al’s famous cheesecake to be delivered and to expect it that afternoon. Deciding to stay an extra week with the family and enjoy life before returning to the grind my phone rang, it was a gentleman saying he was from Liquor and Gaming Department in Las Vegas. He told me he was holding our temporary license in his hand and asked if I needed him to deliver it to the restaurant that morning to be able to sell the wine tonight. I thought it was a prank and dismissed it. But he repeated himself, as did I in disbelief. We went back and forth three times before I realized he was legit. Following the good news we started yelling and shouting in the backyard to the rest of the family. Just then a lightening bolt shot down and sent a jolt thru my nephew and me. Both white faced and out of breath no one even realized what even happened. In complete disbelief and coincidence of how excited we had just been we all started to laugh in disbelief. I swear I couldn’t make this up if I tried.
Just real food, dude!
The name “Off The Strip” came about as a result of working behind the bar at Smith & Wollensky’s for ten years and customers always asking me, “Where do you go off the strip to dine?”
Once we decided to use “Off The Strip” as our name, we needed to describe our particular concept. I called my friend Chef Sean O’Connell and told him about our dilemma. Not Italian, not steak, not continental, what should we call it?? Sean was busy and called me some minutes after and he shouted a phrase “Just Real Food, dude!” And that was that.
Moving “On The Strip.”
We were gaining momentum like a high-speed train, getting great feedback and reviews on Trip Advisor and staying in the #1 spot for more than 2 years. We even ran a promotion to get tourists from the Strip to visit our Southern Highlands location. Promising that if they were not satisfied with their meal and experience not only would we buy their dinner we would pay for their cab ride too! I maybe only had to shell out the cab ride fair a handful of times in the entire two years. We then expanded the restaurant to the left and right spaces due to closures of both stores. Word about us grew to the point that the Caesar’s executive in charge of the LINQ project thought that we should consider moving “On The Strip.” This was a bigger project than I could man alone but I knew exactly who to ask, Andy Belmonti. He was a great customer of ours already and had been the President of the Palms Hotel Nine Group for ten years. He along with Jim and Diana Cameron, early Five Guys franchise owners, were the perfect partners. I could go on about the challenges we faced from there and the laundry list of people that helped us seal the deal, but there really are too many!
Today, the dream my late brother Chef Al and I had is a reality. Our team believes in the concept we began in 2008 and we want to share our Just Real Food with you.
– Tom G