The entry gate at 5500 E. Flamingo Road looks imposing, but after a quick word with the security guard, all are welcome at the Stallion Mountain Grille in the Stallion Mountain Country Club, one of Las Vegas' hidden treasures.
The view of Frenchman Mountain and the decor of the restaurant makes it look as if this is strictly a place for the upper crust. But the meals are reasonably priced, with most dishes under $10, and a table is easy to come by.
"We don't even take reservations right now," said food and beverage manager Kevin Sturgeon. "The word hasn't got out that we're open to the public."
The golf course, built in 1992 as three courses under the name Sunrise Country Club, sits between two water treatment plants spaced a mile apart. It was later renamed Stallion Mountain and redesigned into one course, with the rest of the property given over to new homes.
In 2008 the course closed, went into foreclosure and didn't reopen until it was sold last July to Colorado-based management company Tartan Golf, which brought in Arizona-based OB Sports to operate the facility. OB Sports runs golf courses in 13 states, including six in the Las Vegas Valley.
"I spent six years working with OB Sports at Angel Park," said executive chef Sean Pattiani. "I left to work at a big property on the Strip, but it wasn't the kind of work or environment I liked. I was really happy to come back to an OB property."
Although the Stallion Mountain Grille has been unprofitably quiet this summer, Sturgeon and his staff are riding out the quiet and preparing for the fall.
"It's summer and it's so hot nobody wants to be outside," Sturgeon said. "A lot of the people who live here have second homes in cooler places, so they're not there all the time. We are getting 70 to 80 golfers a day out on the course. But those people aren't necessarily coming in for food or drinks. Our bread and butter here should be our banquet and special event facilities. The restaurant should just be the gravy."
Sturgeon said the banquet rooms are nearly fully booked for the fall for weddings, conferences and other special events.
Sturgeon has been in the food and beverage business since 1994 and feels he has the right background to maximize the potential of the banquet facilities.
"When people hear we have banquet facilities, a lot of time they're picturing a little clubhouse room that doubles for private events. We have a really big facility out here, with large multiple rooms. We have a bride's room where brides and their friends can get ready and unwind before the wedding. We have one room that we use as a separate dance room, allowing quiet conversation in the other rooms."
In the meantime, they're trying out various food and drink specials. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and happy hour Friday through Sunday starting at 6:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday it has breakfast sandwiches marketed toward the golfers, with lunch starting at 11 a.m.
"I'm working on a lot of menus right now," Pattiani said. "In addition to the banquet menus, we've created a few signature items, like our Stallion Mountain chips. We make our own chips, finish them off with a special seasoning that I've come up with, top it off with shredded Parmesan and serve it with a Parmesan garlic dipping sauce."
At $3, or $2 during happy hour, the chips have proved to be one of the restaurant's most popular items. The $12 whiskey buffalo burger was more of a surprise hit to Sturgeon.
"It's one of the more expensive items on our regular menu," he said. "But it became one of our biggest sellers when we introduced it. You can order it with extra patties for a few dollars more. And we're thinking about introducing a sort of 'Man vs. Food' challenge with an extra-large version of it in the fall."
Sturgeon wants to make it clear that although the restaurant is on a golf course, patrons don't have to live or golf there to enjoy the food.
"There's a lot of potential here as long as we can get the business in the door," he said. "It's one of the few places I've been where the food and beverage could outperform the golf. Not everyone who lives here plays golf, but everyone has to eat."
For more information, visit stallionmountaingolf.com or call 547-6250.
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at email@example.com or 380-4532.