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Chef of Old Soul sees positive signs of recovery

With conventioneers and visitors coming back to Las Vegas, one downtown restaurant is starting to show glimmers of a strong recovery.

Chef and local restaurateur Natalie Young said that Old Soul at the World Market Center was humming as one of Southern Nevada’s first trade shows, the Las Vegas Market, kicked off Sunday. The five-day home furnishings trade show is expected to draw upward of 10,000 visitors.

“It’s a lot busier than I expected. I’m super glad that everybody’s here,” said Young, adding that the World Market Center is doing a great job getting people in and having their temperatures checked. Many visitors, she said, are following social distancing protocols.

The restaurant, which is operating at 50 percent capacity, drew long lines Sunday and Monday. Practically every table inside was occupied at lunch hour. Many without reservations were unable to get a seat.

“We’re only able to serve a certain amount, but we’re doing our best and I think everybody’s super patient,” Young said.

Old Soul opened about two years ago on Valentine’s Day.

“Once we did about four or five markets, (the World Market Center) gave me an invitation to come here and be here permanently,” she said.

The location was perfect to attract visitors and area residents to Old Soul, Young said.

“The reason I came is because I knew that eventually, the Expo center was going to happen, and I knew those apartments were going to be built, and eventually The Smith Center will come back,” she said.

The decisions were made pre-COVID, “but again, because the World Market is such a great partner, it’s worked out OK. I’ve been able to survive here, even though there’s a pandemic.”

Last year, Young opened her own furniture store, Authentik, at 1321 Commerce St. The home furnishings industry saw a boom in sales throughout the pandemic as quarantined Americans used their disposable income to spruce up their living spaces.

“It’s inspired by my desire to design my restaurant, and I have a love for older things — for things that are authentic and made really well (like) china and furniture,” Young said. “There’s mostly furniture, but there’s a lot of small items and small goods — something for everybody. Everything in the store has been hand-picked by me.”

Young said she’s hopeful that, once conventions and trade shows are in full swing, downtown businesses will start to see a rebound.

“First things first — we got to get things opened up safely. And then the next thing is to be able to take care of the people that do come,” she said.

Restaurants haven’t been at 100 percent capacity since the pandemic, which Young said will take some time.

“It’s gonna take us a while to kind of find our feet and get back in the swing of things, but I’m looking forward to it and I’m grateful for the opportunity.”

Contact Jonathan Ng at jng@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ByJonathanNg on Twitter.

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