LAUGHLIN — A mere hours before the Nevada Gaming Commission announced that restaurants inside gaming properties can reopen for in-house dining if they meet NGC and Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directives, Saltgrass Steak House in the Golden Nugget-Laughlin reopened for takeout dining.
Following in the footsteps of the Chuckwagon inside the Regency Casino on Casino Drive, Saltgrass — a high-end steak house — announced it would be reopening under the same format of curb-side takeout only. The Chuckwagon since has shuttered again due to a lack of business, according to announcements on social media, but those plans may change now that restaurants inside gaming properties can reopen for in-house dining.
It’s not gaming, nor the revenues that gaming brings in, but it is a start back toward normalcy, and for some higher-profile restaurants, in can mean at least some revenue coming in, the rehiring of furloughed employees, restarting of supply chains and a pre-opening warm-up for when Nevada does allow the casinos to reopen.
Saltgrass Steak House has locations in 10 states. The company was founded by Landry’s, Inc., and is a well-established name in the steak house restaurant world. In Nevada, Laughlin is the only outlet so far but Saltgrass is planning to open another location in the Golden Nugget-Las Vegas. In it’s home state of Texas, Saltgrass has no fewer than 22 locations.
Landry’s operates more than 60 unique brands such as Landry’s Seafood, Chart House, Saltgrass Steak House, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Claim Jumper, Morton’s The Steakhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, Mastro’s Restaurants and Rainforest Cafe across America. In the Golden Nugget-Laughlin alone Landry’s Inc. operates three different concepts — Saltgrass Steakhouse, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, and the Claim Jumper. Landry’s has not announced reopening either of the other two restaurants in Laughlin though now empowered to do so after last week’s announcement by the NGC.
Saltgrass staff, in a phone interview over the weekend, said the restaurant was doing brisk business albeit mostly dinner service. They set new hours of noon to 7 p.m. for the Laughlin outlet, serving both lunch and dinner, and have seen a quick response to their reopening already. National brands like Saltgrass operate independently of the casinos they are in as opposed to in-house restaurants.
Another good reason for casino restaurants in Laughlin as well as Vegas and Reno to reopen now is that they need to get their supply chains back to a steady flow of supply for when the casinos do reopen. The COVID-19 shutdown has affected the food suppliers in many ways and the lack of regularity of orders and deliveries has caused some supply chains to wither on the vine. The pre-casino reopening of the restaurants is a way of kick-starting those supply chains back into normalcy while also getting more people back to work. Truckers, food distribution companies as well as food wholesalers have to get their staffs back up to pre-shutdown par.
Many of the larger gaming companies in Nevada had their eyes set on Memorial Day weekend as the date to reopen gaming in Nevada. That idea already has been quashed by Sisolak, who has made no such announcement as yet. Nevada still is in Phase One of Sisolaks four phase plan, and the casinos will be reopened in Phase Four according to Sisolak’s office. Of course this, too, could change. Phase One was not supposed to start until May 15 but Sisolak sped that up by almost a full week, so Phase Two also may speed up depending on the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state.
The Gaming Commission and the governor have announced restaurants inside gaming properties can reopen following strict guidelines of no more than 50% capacity and all employees must wear masks. No customers can cross a gaming floor to enter a restaurant or restroom.
The casino must confirm “whether there is a separate entrance for the restaurant, apart from any entrance to the restaurant off the gaming floor.”
Properties located in Clark and Washoe Counties — the only two with populations over 100,000 people — also need to submit a plan of how they will keep people from crowding outside the restaurant while they wait to enter.
Any casino choosing to reopen a restaurant on its property must conform to “any directives or orders issued by its county commission or health district that enact more restrictive measures on reopening.”