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Have a passion for comfort food and downtown Las Vegas? Opportunity awaits

Updated December 16, 2021 - 6:54 am

A restaurateur with an idea for a diner, coffee shop or deli reminiscent of the past could get their concept built for free, in a competition announced Tuesday.

Las Vegas real estate agency Dapper Cos. created the challenge, dubbed “The Great Las Vegas Coffee Shop Giveaway,” to award a chef or restaurateur with a 3,000-square-foot custom-designed restaurant in downtown Las Vegas.

J Dapper, owner of Dapper Cos., said the judges are looking for something along the lines of cafes found in casinos past than the current latte-and-laptop scene.

Growing up in Southern Nevada, Dapper remembers cafes with diner and delicatessen staples available at any time of day.

“You could order a French dip at 8 a.m. and steak and eggs at 8 p.m.,” he said. “It was the place that had the best comfort food. The food was reasonably priced, and everybody loved to eat there.”

The winner of the contest will get restaurant space in the Huntridge Shopping Center at 1120 S. Maryland Parkway in downtown Las Vegas.

The chosen concept will be built out with furniture, equipment, branding, signage and a marketing plan, the company said in a Tuesday news release. Dapper Cos. estimates the total value at more than $950,000.

To enter, applicants must create a presentation with the name and concept for the restaurant along with a sample menu and imagery of the food and space. Contestants also must detail their previous experience. A background running a restaurant is a plus, but those without much experience are still encouraged to apply. The presentation is due Feb. 1, 2022.

Qualified applicants will then be invited to present their plan on Feb. 15 to a panel of judges including local restaurateurs Cory Harwell, John Simmons and Marc Marrone. Three finalists will then be invited to compete at Vegas Test Kitchen in downtown Las Vegas with a winner selected by April 5.

The winner will then work with partners to build the restaurant. Partners include YESCO, AAA Bar and Restaurant Supply, The Humblewood Company, RADstudio and Hydro Studios, among others.

The idea came from a place of wanting to help those in the hospitality industry after nearly two years of business model pivots, restrictions and new challenges at eateries, Dapper said.

“Probably one of the most important ingredients to winning this is a belief in and love for downtown Las Vegas,” Dapper said. “There’s so many people who have gone into downtown Las Vegas and opened up a restaurant, pizza places and coffee shops. They’ve done it successfully because they have this passion and believe that our downtown is resurrecting. It’s important that the person believes in that.”

McKenna Ross is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Contact her at mross@reviewjournal.com. Follow @mckenna_ross_ on Twitter.

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