Front & Back of the House
A Love Story of Sorts
photo by Vance Fox
Grant Turner added “restaurateur” to his list of careers when he fell in love–not with a chef or over-the-top foodie, but with a building. He originally purchased the property on Arizona Street in Boulder City with the intention of flipping it. But as he furthered explored the building, started learning its history, and started envisioning what it might look like, The Dillinger was created.
Turner’s educational background is in finance and he has years of experience working for the family’s construction business, New Castle Construction. Restaurant management was not his forte.
“I had worked in restaurants in high school and college, but I had no plans for keeping the space or getting into the restaurant business,” said Turner. “But I fell in love with the building. I absolutely love the walls and the concrete; it has so much character, so we had to keep it.”
Turner had always thought that someday he would own a bar, but he envisioned that coming much later in life. Even then, he pictured it not so much as a job, but more of an avocation, paying others to run it. But life has a way of accelerating the best laid plans.
Finding himself with two fulltime jobs, Turner still did almost all of the work himself on both the construction and business sides. He lost his financier partner shortly before opening and faced a decision–to sell the building and get out of restaurant ownership or persevere with the original plan. Operating on a shoestring, he was able to open the restaurant and keep it going until it started operating in the black. Later his father, Larry, joined the team to help expand the business.
The restaurant was named The Dillinger for a multitude of reasons. First, the building had originally housed a bank. Second, Turner really liked the band, “The Dillinger Escape Plan,” and he’d always been a big John Dillinger fan. “It was a bank and he was a bank robber, so we ran with it,” said Turner.
Menu development wasn’t a driving force for the design of the building as it is for some restaurants; in fact, it was almost an afterthought once much of the construction was complete. But that doesn’t mean that Turner didn’t have strong feelings about the restaurant’s offerings. “I’m a real foodie, having grown up traveling and eating good food,” said Turner. “Food was always a main interest for my family and the menu had to be interesting.”
Eight years later, the menu still boasts a disarming array of tantalizing burgers with names like “The Bonnie,” “The Baby Face Nelson,” “The Capone” and “The Sticky Burger” (with peanut butter). In addition to interesting appetizers and salads, the bar lists more than fifty whiskies and several local brews on tap.
According to Turner, “It (The Dillinger) has turned into a lifestyle. It just became a monster and took over. With block parties, and all the events that we do, it has set its roots and it’s just doing its own thing now–I’m just along for the ride.” No restaurateur has ever felt
Turner’s acquisition of FORGE Social House is another love story. He had walked his dog by this property almost every day and admired the building every time he passed. Finally, the property went on the market and the design dance began. This event venue has indoor and outdoor seating spaces, a separate bar area and full kitchen. The rustic, minimalist interior lends itself to any theme, and the public areas flow easily, one into the other.
Turner also has The Tap, because–according to him–“it was too good a deal to pass up.” Or it could be because he really likes running restaurants. This facility is on the street-side end of the newly purchased and remodeled Best Western in Boulder City on Nevada Way. The outdoor seating overlooks the street and has a view to the south and west. The indoor seating is spacious, and there is a room called “The Parlor” with a mix of antique couches and chairs and additional restaurant seating. The Parlor provides a space for live music and viewing of Golden Knights games.
The Tap came into Turner’s life after he worked up the numbers on the hotel for a potential buyer, including value and costs for updating the property. That person didn’t end up with the property, but he met the current owner; they got along, and Turner found himself with a third space for feeding people and entertaining.
Turner will tell you that there are days when you are losing money, employees (or you yourself) are grumpy, there is broken equipment, they are repaving the street in front of your restaurant, the vegetables you ordered didn’t come in… but just like a love story… when it works, oh, oh, oh, when it works…
FORGE Social House