A crowd-pleasing Louisiana-style eatery is nearing a new opening date.
Earlier this year, Lola’s — A Louisiana Kitchen announced plans to open a second location in Summerlin in April, but the restaurant had a few hiccups.
The restaurant will open at the end of August, after all of the approvals and construction, owner Lola Pokorny said.
Getting a restaurant approved can be a time-consuming process as it involves several steps including paperwork, approval by city departments and revisions, Steve Grodkiewicz, project manager with EcoLife said.
Grodkiewicz, who is Pokorny’s contractor for the property, described the process as “bureaucracy at its finest.”
Everybody’s got to have a say in this, Grodkiewicz said.
The project delay of about three months isn’t unusual for Grodkiewicz, who said he’s seen delays of six to eight months for projects.
“You have to kind of play the game,” Pokorny said of the approval process.
The second location, off North Town Center Drive and Covington Cross Drive is the former site of a Ruby Tuesday restaurant that closed in January 2011 as part of a companywide move.
Buzz surrounding Lola’s food has built-up outside of Las Vegas. The restaurant was featured in the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” in 2012 and the popular business-review website Yelp currently rates the restaurant at four out of five stars with 396 reviews.
The new 5,305-square-foot location expects to serve around 300 people per day with 88 seats, plus courtyard, bar and private dining room seating. The current 1,500-square-foot location is petite by comparison, serving an average of 210 people per day with just 46 seats, according to Pokorny.
Pokorny purchased the Summerlin location for $1.5 million, according to the Clark County Assessor’s website. The Downtown Lola’s, which Pokorny refers to as “her baby,” is leased.
The owner’s reasoning for purchasing the new space instead of leasing again was simple.
“I can be my own landlord this way,” said Pokorny.
Aside from an upgrade in space, the new location offers other amenities.
It will be open seven days a week, after adding Sundays and it will have a full liquor license which Pokorny wanted to have approved before opening the location.
The restaurant also required the approval of the Howard Hughes Corp. which oversees development in Summerlin.
“Virtually nothing gets built inside without the approval of design review,” said Thomas Warden, senior vice president of community and government relations for the Howard Hughes Corp.
Asked about Pokorny’s decision to expand her business to Summerlin, Warden said, “I think it’s just one more indication that the market locally is recovering well.”
The residential area surrounding Pokorny’s new restaurant and the many businesses, including Summerlin Hospital Medical center, will give the eatery a ready-made clientele, Warden said.
Some view Lola’s expansion as a rarity in the transient Las Vegas Valley where small restaurants tend to be hopelessly outnumbered by chain restaurants.
“I’ve been here now for twenty years and it’s really just been the last five to ten years that you’re seeing a lot more of the locally owned restaurants coming in,” said Jean Hertzman, associate professor and assistant dean of operations for the William F. Harrah college of hotel administration at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Smaller, locally owned restaurants have begun carving out a market for themselves as the city has grown and as dining on the Strip has become more expensive, Hertzman said.
Pokorny said a second location was always in the back of her mind but that outside of Summerlin, different settings never worked out.
Asked about the possibility of a third location, Pokorny said, “You never say never, but I will say, not today.”
Contact Alex Corey at email@example.com or 702-383-0270. Find him on Twitter: @acoreynews.