Lola Pokorny will soon serve up her oyster platters and crawfish etouffee with a side of elbow room.
Pokorny, owner of Lola’s — A Louisiana Kitchen, inked a deal to open a Summerlin location that will be nearly five times bigger than her 1,500-square-foot Holsum Lofts operation in downtown Las Vegas.
The second location, inside the former Ruby Tuesday restaurant at Town Center Drive and Covington Cross, won’t affect existing operations when it opens in April with 24 employees, but it will let Pokorny offer services that patrons won’t find at her downtown eatery. The chance to provide those extras, plus nearby demographics, are what Pokorny said drew her to the area.
“It’s a great location. There’s a lack of lunch and dinner options in the area,” she said. “There are lots of business parks nearby, and a lot of our downtown customers live in the neighborhood. They don’t always want to come back downtown in the evening.”
Here’s what those customers will get for staying close to home: The new, 5,305-square-foot Lola’s will have a year-round outdoor courtyard, plus private rooms for meetups and community groups. It’ll also have a full liquor license so it can serve craft beers and specialty cocktails, and its seven-day-a-week schedule will allow for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Pokorny said she’s working on a happy hour menu. And with Sunday hours, it’ll be a hub for New Orleans Saints watch parties.
It’s not just a new direction for Lola’s and for Pokorny, whose company bought the building for $1.5 million, according to the Clark County assessor’s website. It’s also a new start for a property that’s been vacant for three years. Ruby Tuesday shuttered the operation in January 2011 as part of a companywide strategy to cut franchise locations and focus instead on company-owned branches.
It took a while to fill the space partly because the former owner, which the assessor’s office listed as Shaver Investment Corp. of California, was first looking to lease rather than sell, said Matt Bear, a principal with commercial real estate firm Avison Young and a broker involved in the deal.
Plus, the building drew interest from a number of tavern operators, Bear said, but they backed off after they realized the restaurant backed up to two residential communities, and there’d be no gaming allowed.
“It’s a great trade area, but you either like the location or you don’t,” Bear said. “It was definitely going to take someone like Lola, who has a great following and who makes great food. People love her.”
Pokorny’s following isn’t just local. The Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” featured the 4-year-old Lola’s on its “Serious Sandwiches” episode in June 2012, giving the roast beef po’ boy sandwich a big thumbs-up. Streams of tourists have filtered through the restaurant ever since. Pokorny said those out-of-towners tell her they’re willing to make the trek to Summerlin partly because the second eatery will have a full liquor license.
The deal “proves that the market is coming back — that someone believes in something enough to invest their own money to have a space in the market,” Bear said. “And I think for Lola, it’s going to give her the opportunity to really have a full menu with a full-sized kitchen that will allow her to do a lot of things she just can’t do downtown.”
Pokorny said she’s been approached about a Henderson location, but “right now, our focus is going to be Summerlin.But who knows what the future will bring? We’re taking it one day at a time.”
Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @J_Robison1 on Twitter.