Smash N Grab Burger made a recent move from its food truck to a restaurant location, and it has been a huge success so far.
Using their food truck as a springboard to a restaurant is giving owners Nick and Tasha DeLeon a steady stream of customers who seemingly don’t mind waiting for one of their culinary delights like the Mac and Cheese Cheeseburger.
Smash N Grab Burger opened as a food truck during the summer of 2021, and quickly became popular with a variety of customers, young and old. With a kids menu, appetizers such as deep fried pickles, an Elote Bowl and signature burgers that are nothing of the ordinary, they quickly created a devoted following of customers. Tasha explained a lot of times customers would ask if they had a table and chairs to sit out so customers could sit and dine.
A great opportunity arose for the Leons when Evah’s restaurant closed leaving an empty restaurant site sitting on the second floor of the family-owned Cooper Queen Hotel and Casino.
The obvious pluses to being inside a restaurant location high on the list was additional inventory and cooking didn’t have to be done in a severely cramped food truck kitchen. In addition to locals who had already taken a huge liking to Smash N Grab, this would give hotel guests a convenient option right inside the hotel and casino.
“It’s way easier to work in a kitchen, the cold was too much,” Nick said. “Most food trucks are built for that specific food, taco trucks have a flat top, and food wells, but the food truck we own is a full-size kitchen and it has everything in it. It was built by McDonald’s—it has ovens, flat tops, grills, fryers, warmers, but it’s not built to cook 120 burgers in three hours, it’s alot of cooking for that little flat top.”
They found themselves turning people away because they could only hold so much food in the truck.
“We thought this would be so much better because we could serve that volume,” Tasha said.
And they have exceeded their wildest dreams with that. The first week the restaurant phone was ringing nonstop with orders to go, and people waiting in line to be seated.
Nick’s culinary background is stacked with more than 19 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Nick attended the Art Institute in Dallas for the culinary program.
Throughout that time he has worked with a multitude of chefs and assisted in opening restaurants such as Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen located in Las Vegas, Guy Fierei’s Vegas Kitchen and worked at the famous French restaurant on the Las Vegas strip called Mon Amio Gabi located inside the Paris Hotel.
He talks about his inspiration coming from working with Guy Fieri and Chef Michael Jordan.
“Once Fieri took over my brain that’s where I came up with these burgers,” Nick said.
When asked why they chose Ely, the answer was easy, “Being from Ely, and COVID changing our lives while residing in Las Vegas, made it an easy decision to move back,” Tasha said. “We both worked in the service industry and everything just shut down, and we both got put on leave for over a year.”
Nick said, “We wanted to get the kids out of the city and we wanted to bring something different here, but something relatable.”
Their burgers, as Nick explains them, are “a different flavor profile.”
An Elote Burger, where they place the Mexican Street Corn onto the burger with bacon and other toppings creates layers of flavor that are indescribable. The Irish Burger, with corned beef and sauerkraut is another blast of flavors that you can taste all from one bite.
While Tasha and Nick note their favorite burger is the Mac and Cheese Cheeseburger they are definitely noticing customers coming out and trying different versions of the burgers on their menu.
Nick also mentioned that he is looking to do weekly specials in the future, “we won’t have any plain type of specials, they will be over the top, by putting a little spin on them.”
Holiday parties and catering for special events is also something they are definitely on board with, and, in addition to that, the Leons have plans to open up the food truck during the summertime with street tacos. Once special fryers they require to cook certain menu items are installed, they will also be open for lunch hours. For now they are currently open Monday through Saturday from 4 to 9 p.m.