Kevin Mills has been serving bigwigs in his Las Vegas restaurant since the 1970s.
But on Friday, it was his turn in the spotlight.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman presented the Omelet House owner a key to the city Friday morning at a private party at the restaurant. She also proclaimed Sept. 12 “Kevin Mills Day.”
“I’m just so touched,” an emotional Mills said as Goodman surprised him with the awards.
Goodman said the Omelet House has served presidents, celebrities and many other prominent people for more than 30 years.
“It has really become a home base and a Las Vegas institution,” the mayor said.
Mills, 55, has operated the restaurant at 2160 W. Charleston Blvd. since 1978. The Bishop Gorman High School graduate was born and raised in Las Vegas and is almost fanatical about preserving its history.
“Damn. To get the key to the city I was born in? That’s not an everyday occurrence,” Mills said.
For the last few years, Mills has hosted an “old-timer” breakfast every few months, gathering some of the city’s most famous and influential figures together to sip coffee, eat breakfast and tell stories.
In addition to Mayor Goodman and her husband, former Mayor Oscar Goodman, Mills is often joined by Las Vegas icons, including former Clark County sheriffs Ralph Lamb and Bill Young, former UNLV basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, pig farm owners Bob and Janet Combs, neurosurgeon and politician Lonnie Hammargren and many others.
The breakfasts started because Mills wanted to connect his wife’s grandfather, now in his 90s, to former cohorts like Lamb, Oscar Goodman and Rex Bell Jr.
But Oscar Goodman suggested a few more names, and the guest list quickly grew.
“It’s gotten bigger and bigger each time,” Mills said. “It means the world to me to have a piece of living Las Vegas history.”
One of Mills’ favorite stories was from Lamb, who told of riding horses into a bar on Main Street in the 1950s with Rex Bell Sr., a future lieutenant governor.
The surprised bar employees told the future sheriff they couldn’t bring their animals inside. But Lamb thought otherwise. The pair ended up drinking while atop their horses.
As Mills’ guests get older, his goal is to record as many stories as possible. Comedian Steve Rossi used to open the breakfasts with five minutes of stand-up. But he died in June.
“Their memories die with them,” he said. “I feel really privileged to be part of the conduit for getting that information cemented into history.”
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283. Follow @blasky on Twitter.