People nowadays look for value in their meals when they go out. It is the nature of our society.
But when eaters find value and quality together, that is a rare find indeed.
Shawn Holmes, president of Best Bet Products Inc., which owns and operates the restaurant $5-$10-$15, set out to combine good value with quality.
“I came up with the concept from going to restaurants and watching big groups eat and at the end people would divide checks and it was difficult for them,” Holmes said. “I, myself like nice round numbers with good quality food.”
The restaurant is set up so that there are just three prices for all the entrees, $5, $10 and $15. These are the round numbers Holmes is talking about.
The restaurant sits at the back of the Stagestop Casino at 100 W. Stage Coach Road. The casino is also operated by Best Bet Products Inc.
To complete the equation, he just needed to combine value with quality and that meant a good chef with experience and so he brought in Chef Martin Urias.
“He’s a great cook,” he said. “When it comes down to food on the plate, he is great.”
Urias was a line cook with Mom’s Diner and when the former restaurant at the Stage Stop, Sugar’s Shack pulled out.
Holmes said Urias was was looking to make more money.
“He was working for Mom’s Diner and was thinking of leaving town because he wasn’t making enough,” Holmes said.
So Urias jumped at the chance to work in Pahrumpand stay in town to be with his family. Urias had come to Pahrump from the Reno area, where he spent years perfecting his craft, working for places like the Ritz Carlton in Lake Tahoe.
Urias explained that it was difficult at first to come up with the food to match the prices.
“We needed quality food but couldn’t lose money,” he said. “It’s about quality here and we do a lot from scratch. We don’t do boxes here. We do our own sauces here. We use a lot of fresh ingredients. We take that extra amount of time to do things by hand but still have to balance the labor. We do all the things we can to cut cost and labor.”
Holmes said he cuts Urias a little slack in the cost so that his cook can be creative.
“They definitely come here for the value,” the owner said. “The people that find us come back. I tell people this, we may not have the best spaghetti but we have the best spaghetti for $10. We are a casino, bar and restaurant. The restaurant can break even because we have gaming. But definitely our casino allows for cheaper prices.”
Along with his great menu ideas, Urias brings a wealth of experience.
“I have been cooking for 30-plus years and 10 years as a sou chef,” Urias said. “I started my career at the Maples in Reno. That is a historical building. I was working there 15 years. I did go to school to become a chef, but just didn’t finish.”
Urias may not have finished school, but he schooled himself by going through the school of hard knocks.
“My first job in the business was washing dishes,” he said. “Of course turnover is great in this business and I found myself becoming a runner. I ran food to the different buffets. I always have liked food. All the sauces and movements involved in cooking. That’s what caught my eye.”
Urias likes creating his own dishes, but staying in the realm of what he knows.
“I like cooking continental food,” he said. “I have a tendency to lean toward Mexican food. I like making chili and mole. I do a good tortilla salad and different types of tacos and I like spice but not too hot.”
So far Pahrump thinks the value and quality are there and according to Urias, they keep coming back.
“I am still figuring out what we can do,” Urias said. “We have a lot of repeat customers. Things are going well. Despite the location we will make it through our first year. You come in here and you will find we are reasonably priced, tasty and filling. Your experience should be a pretty darn good one and our service is great.”