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Country-western hub rebrands itself to adapt to customers

The fresh sawdust on the floor didn't have time to find all the nooks and crannies of Stoney's North Forty, 5990 Centennial Center Blvd., before the winds of change blew in.

After a year as a northwest-area urban cowboy nightlife venue, co-owners Stoney Gray and Chris Lowden have decided to do a bit of a clean sweep. The country vibe will remain, but a fresh menu, a family feel, a blues angle and a new name have been initiated.

North Forty BBQ Saloon & Dancehall is the new moniker for Gray's third saloon. But its unique qualities and location are what brought on the change, Gray said.

He started introducing a small menu of his slow-smoked barbecue recipes, and the items would sell out daily. Patrons brought their families but were turned off by the nightclub witching hour that changed the general feel of the eatery, Gray said.

Their suggestions ushered in change.

"It wasn't something we set out to do, but we kept getting the same requests," Gray said. "You listen to customers."

Also on visitors' lips was the need for a blues element. Live country music is a Thursday, Friday and Saturday night staple. Sundays are now reserved for the blues band Moaning Black Snakes.

A possible blues brunch is in the works.

The 9,000-square-foot space is little brother in many ways to Gray's flagship Las Vegas site, Stoney's Rockin' Country, 9151 Las Vegas Blvd. South. Gray calls it a " beast " -- it's 20,000 square feet and a nightlife hub -- but said his Las Vegas locations are different animals.

Stoney's Rockin' Country doesn't have a menu, and more emphasis is put on the nightclub atmosphere, complete with a cover charge. There is no charge at the North Forty location.

A third location is in Evanston, Ill.

"This is not a typical Stoney's property," he said "It's not even close."

Lowden echoed the sentiment.

"It's fun, it's warm, (there is) sawdust on the floor," he said. "It changes as families go home around 9 or 9:30 p.m. and it's a comfortable place for adults to watch live music and dance."

Free dancing lessons are offered to people of all ages at 7:30 p.m. every Tuesday through Saturday. Two-step is taught on Tuesdays, line dancing is covered Wednesday and a blend is instructed Thursday through Saturday nights.

The " North Forty " nickname brought way for the venue's new branding .

"We wanted people to understand this had barbecue, and everybody knows the North Forty name," Gray said. "We have to be able to tell the people what they're getting when they walk through the door."

Smells of the fledgling barbecue menu items greet patrons. The initial menu featured Texas bar fare, and Gray eventually decided to share his personal cache of recipes. Without advertising, 1,000-plus racks of ribs a week would fly off the grill.

"When it's gone, it's gone," Gray said.

The meat smoking involves about a six-hour stay for barbecue ribs and 15 hours for brisket, Gray said. He uses top-shelf ingredients, he said, including Angus beef for hamburgers.

"There is a lot of love in our food," Gray said.

For more information, visit or call 309-6015.

Contact Centennial and Paradise View reporter Maggie Lillis at or 477-3839.