Homestyle hospitality (with a side of killer scones) at DW Bistro

Homestyle hospitality (with a side of killer scones) at DW Bistro

By Broack Radke | LAS VEGAS WEEKLY

It’s about warmth. It’s about smiles and fresh pastry baskets, deliciously soothing cocktails and Jamaican jerk chicken salads and feeling like you’re home when you go out to eat. It’s the phenomenon Bryce Krausman and Dalton Wilson have created at DW Bistro, and the extended hospitality they plan to create at the nearby DW Market come February.

Krausman and Wilson first met while working at Williams-Sonoma, so their collective mentality is constructed around the concept of a market. “It’s been in our brains for the last 10 years,” Krausman says. “Everything is related to shopping and stores and helping people buy the right product for what they want to do.”

Once their charming DW Bistro caught on—a five-year-old island of an eatery in the Southwest valley serving homey fare with Jamaican and New Mexican influences—regulars started making requests. Can you cater? Will you make grab-and-go dishes? How about cooking classes? Can I get coffee and one of those awesome blueberry-white chocolate scones without committing to full-on weekend brunch? The market, set to open at the re-started Gramercy project, will address everything.

“It’s quite large, more than 7,700 square feet, so it will help us expand,” Krausman says. “We’ll do grab-and-go, we’ll have patio seating and inside at communal tables, and most of [Gramercy] is commercial space and office, so there’s kind of this built-in clientele already.” Also, pastry chef Walter Dickerson, who’s been with DW for three years, is “an awesome baker who is underutilized right now, and this will be a space for him to really blossom.”

Krasuman and Wilson came close to expanding DW Bistro with a second restaurant Downtown earlier this year, but the market concept just made more sense, one that their regulars—friends, actually—can’t wait to explore.

DW Bistro 6115 S. Fort Apache Road, 702-527-5200. Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

From Aerialist to Coffee Queen

By Cate Weeks | VEGASSEVEN.COM

Then:  Holly Steeley was an aerialist for Le Rêve, Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular and Storm from 1999-2013.
Now:  Owner of Holley’s Cuppa coffee shop in the Mountain’s Edge community.

Since bringing home her first paycheck at age 16, Steeley had always socked away a good portion of her earnings for a rainy day. So after being turned down over and over for a small business loan—Would you loan money to an aerialist with little off-stage experience and no business degree?—Steeley decided it was time to make her own rain. She pulled out her savings and racked up credit-card debt to open the specialty coffee shop she had long wanted to launch. “I probably did everything you’re not supposed to do, but I had to,” Steeley says. “Whatever I did for a second career, it had to be something I was passionate about. Entertainers are lucky, because we get paid to do something we truly love. I couldn’t face giving that up.”

Sinking her money into a risky business venture was a surprisingly easy decision. Steeley says she had spent five years researching the industry at coffee conventions and traveling to South American farms to learn how coffee beans were harvested. Further proof of her dedication: She tested roasting techniques and even got a part-time job as a barista while still performing until midnight at Le Rêve. “I was tired all the time, but I had to know that I’d love this business before I took that final leap off-stage.”

She loves it so much that she’s developing a second Cuppa location at the Gramercy off Russell Road and Interstate 215. “I still don’t have a finance degree, but now I’ve got a lot of success under my belt. I’m pretty sure loan officers look at me more seriously now.” Indeed, they do: Just last week Steeley secured a Small Business Administration loan. “I’m still giggling,” she says. “This is a big deal!”

Let Them Eat Local

By Xania V. Woodman | VEGASSEVEN.COM

The area surrounding Interstate 215 near Russell Road is hardly what anyone might call a dining destination. Other than brunch staple DW Bistro, pizzeria Due Forni and a handful of hit-or-miss Thai and taco joints, the southwest quadrant of the Valley is effectively a culinary desert. The Gramercy, however, could be the remedy.

Last June, the former Manhattan West site lay fallow, a casualty of the Great Recession that left the $180 million residential, office and retail project unfinished and with an uncertain future. WGH Partners, which specializes in turning around distressed properties, purchased the site with the Krausz Companies, retitling it the Gramercy, after New York’s famed park of the same name. The owners aim to re-create the neighborhood feel of that tree-lined community with the project’s four-story luxury lofts (160 units) and mixed-use dining, retail and office space; a nine-story condo tower with 85 units will arrive in a later phase. In all, the Gramercy encompasses 500,000 square feet over 20 acres, plus underground parking, and it has been moving full-steam-ahead to meet the late 2014 deadline set for Phase 1.

Jennifer Guevara-Leone does property acquisition for WGH Partners and is among those charged with filling the mixed-use property with tenants. “I’m the demographic,” she says. “I’m 39; I love to go out to eat. I’m a local—born and raised—and I don’t frequent the Strip to eat. I would eat there [at the Gramercy], I would work there, I would play there, I would live there.” Already a medical group has signed on, adding 600 daytime users to the community’s eventual full-time residents. The Gramercy also has desirable neighbors in Rhodes Ranch, Spanish Hills, Spanish Trail and the Ridges, as well as nearby Bishop Gorman High School.

But it’s the Gramercy’s dining options that will bring the rest of the city to their doorstep.

At present, the slated anchor-space tenants include a new concept from Ferraro’s chef Mimmo Ferraro and his wife, Nicole; an Italian steakhouse by chef Alex Stratta; and a fourth Bachi from Lorin Watada, this one with a bar focus. A market from DW Bistro owners makes up the fourth prominent corner space opening onto the lushly landscaped circular courtyard. Other units include The Cuppa, a second coffeehouse by former Strip aerialist Holley Steeley, and a medical spa with a possible juice bar by Dr. 90210’s Dr. Gary Motykie, as well as a proposed sushi bar, healthier-choice concept, gym and salon.

Like Tivoli Village and the District at Green Valley Ranch—and the upcoming Downtown Summerlin—the Gramercy is looking for that just-right mix of dining options that will serve its urban dwellers and workers, as well as attract a destination diner. Guevara-Leone says that while she could have snapped her fingers and filled the retail and dining spaces with the usual mix (Pottery Barn, Subway, Starbucks), she convinced her partners to seek local up-and-comers and regional proven performers instead of chains and franchises.

Stratta was among the first to come aboard.

“The most exciting and interesting thing about the Gramercy,” Stratta says, “is that there’s not that much in that area, but there are a lot of people who can afford to go out often. It’s a part of their routine.”

Since parting ways with Steve Wynn in 2011, Stratta has been bouncing around from the Bay Area to L.A. to a just-concluded menu-consulting gig with Las Vegas’ Marché Bacchus bistro and wine bar. He has since joined restaurant franchise company KCI Investments and plans to open Alex Stratta Italian Steakhouse (working name) at the Gramercy, while also starting a high-end catering company and developing new fast-casual brands.

“It’s keeping me real busy,” the chef reports, but he still plans to run the steakhouse full time. Despite his career highs, this is the first time Stratta says he’ll get to be his own boss. “You can only go so far [at a hotel-casino],” the chef says, “and I think it went as far as I possibly could.”

That’s exactly the kind of partner Guevara-Leone is looking for. “I’m putting it to the chefs that whatever culinary idea or dream they’ve ever had that they could not do in a casino, or it just wasn’t the right time, this is your canvas. You are the artist.”

The space Stratta’s chosen in the northwest corner of the Gramercy’s central park boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and a partial Strip view, which will be reserved for the private dining room. Italian elements will include fresh pasta and flatbreads made in a wood-burning oven, plus a shellfish and raw bar. The steakhouse menu will be straightforward American, he says, “but I’m gonna fancy it up a bit.” And pricewise, “It will be very approachable.”

That’s hugely important to Stratta, who is eager to avoid the perception that he’s going to charge Strip prices. He will focus instead on building a team that can deliver the quality of service diners have come to expect from Stratta restaurants, regardless of price. “It doesn’t cost anything to have good service,” he says. “It’s just a matter of training.” The spot will have a bar, happy hour, live entertainment and occupy 5,300 square feet, including a patio. Watada’s 4,200-square-foot Bachi Bar (also a working name) will also have a heavy bar focus, with an emphasis on craft beer, twists on classic cocktails, and original creations with an Asian influence.

He will also expand on the Bachi model with entrées, salads and appetizers.

Both Stratta and Watada say they are in lease negotiations, though Bachi Bar won’t open until May 2015, as Watada is currently expanding into California with Bachi Burgers in West Los Angeles and Pasadena. Despite his brand’s growth, “I’m one of those people who can’t stand chain concepts,” Watada says. “I’ve always been a big supporter of local businesses first.”

Steeley is another local business success story, and was actually the first to sign on to the project. “It’s a new style of business venture,” Steeley says. “This side of town is in need of a gourmet feel.” Her 2,000-square-foot brick coffee shop and patio will also be a showplace for locally made artwork.

Ferraro, meanwhile, is close to signing. “We like the project, and we’re very interested,” he says. The chef is keeping the details quiet for now, but he says, it’s “definitely not 100 percent Italian. It’s fun, hip, sexy—something I know I haven’t seen yet, at least not in this town.”

After a five-year hiatus, The Gramercy lands its first big office tenant

By Jennifer Robison | LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

The Gramercy has its first major office deal.

The residential, retail and office development at Russell Road and the 215 Beltway has signed a lease agreement with HMS Holdings Corp., a publicly traded provider of cost-containment solutions for the health care industry.

Neither party disclosed the terms of the deal, but both sides described it as a “long-term” lease on 65,000 square-feet of space. More than 250 HMS employees will move into The Gramercy in early summer.

HMS currently has an office at 7501 Trinity Peak Drive.

Jay Krigsman, executive vice president of The Gramercy co-developer The Krausz Cos., said the property has interest from national and local companies, and leasing agents are in “active negotiations” with other office tenants, as well as restaurants.

Construction started back up on The Gramercy in September, five years after work stopped on the project. The Krausz Cos., based in California, and Las Vegas-based WGH Partners bought the property, formerly called Manhattan West, and revived it. The Gramercy will have more than 200 luxury apartments, as well as a central park, offices and stores. The first residential occupants are scheduled to move in during summer.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.

Former City Club reawakens, now The Lennox

By Jennifer Robison | LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

A dormant apartment project in southeast Las Vegas has reawakened.

Developers WGH Partners of Las Vegas and Florida East Coast Realty of Miami announced Thursday that they’ve taken over the former City Club and rechristened it The Lennox Las Vegas. The developers said they’ve also restarted construction of the building at the northeast corner of Cactus Avenue and Bermuda Road.

The 200,000-square-foot, four-story building will have 100 units ranging from 900 square feet to 1,900 square feet. It will also have a ground-floor parking garage, on-site storage units and a 2,000-square-foot clubhouse and fitness center with a coffee bar and a pool.

The developers said they expect to begin leasing The Lennox in May. The Agency of Beverly Hills and Las Vegas-based Northcap will handle marketing and leasing.

Thomas & Mack Development Group is the development consultant overseeing construction. Martin-Harris Construction is the general contractor.

WGH Partners is also a partner in The Gramercy near Russell Road and the 215 Beltway. That project, also a victim of the recession, stalled in 2009 when it couldn’t find a market for its units, which were priced from $200,000 to $1 million. WGH Partners and The Krausz Cos. of California have restarted construction at the site, formerly called Manhattan West, and are marketing it as an apartment community.

Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com.

Construction set to begin in September on stalled Manhattan West project

By Chris Serioty | LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

It’s been a visible reminder of the recession’s devastating impact on the building industry in Las Vegas, but the new owners of the stalled Manhattan West project are prepared to resume construction in September on the partially finished project.

The Krausz Cos. Inc. spent $20 million in June to acquire the 20-acre project and plans to spend about $30 million to complete the development, which has been renamed The Gramercy.

The project, which consists of retail, office and residential on Russell Road just west of the Las Vegas Beltway, is being developed by Krausz of Irvine, Calif., and Las Vegas-based WGH Partners.

“We are ready to start today,” Benjamin Garfinkle, principal with WGH Partners, said Monday. “We are just finalizing all the (construction) details and budgets.”

The project, which has sat unfinished behind a wire fence since January 2009, has two four-story Class A office buildings, two four-story residential buildings and a nine-story residential building. It also has ground-floor retail.

Construction to complete the two 100,000-square-foot office buildings and the midrise residences is scheduled to begin in September, and occupancy is set for May.

Garfinkle said two well-known Las Vegas-based companies have expressed an interest in leasing 45,000 square feet, along with 65,000 square feet of office space, at The Gramercy. He declined to identify either.

“All I can say is that we have a very large tenant with lease in hand,” he said. “We already have strong interest from potential tenants and are expediting our development schedule to accommodate them.”

Garfinkle attributed interest in The Gramercy to there being “very little large contiguous Class A office space in the market.”

He said that for companies looking for 30,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet, “there is a big hole in the market that gets narrowed down really quickly” as companies look for smaller sizes of upscale office space.

At the end of the first quarter, there were 65 Class A buildings in the Las Vegas market, which includes all of Clark County, totaling 5.61 million square feet of space, according to a CB Richard Ellis report. As of March 31, the Class A vacancy rate in Las Vegas was 29.4 percent.

The report also found Class A asking rents at $29.65 per-square-foot gross.

Garfinkle said The Gramercy includes entitlements for an additional 500,000 square feet of residential and commercial space. Once completed, the project will have a gym, wine and coffee shops, a weekly farmers market and space for food trucks, he said.

Garfinkle and his business partner, Ofir Hagay, are no strangers to completing troubled developments.

In June 2012, they spent $3.1 million on a pair of unfinished two-story office buildings and by February had completed the development. Keller Williams Realty and Fidelity National Title anchor the Red Rock Business Center at 6140 and 6180 Brent Thurman Way.

Garfinkle said there were “half a dozen prospective tenants” looking to possibly lock up space at the 75,000-square-foot development.

Contact reporter Chris Sieroty at csieroty@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893.