It's been a part of the Huntridge neighborhood and part of the fabric of Las Vegas for more years than I can count. When I was a kid, it was a treat to go to the movies at the Huntridge theater and then go across the street and have a milkshake at the Huntridge Diner.
It was owned for years by a branch of the Fong family. Rather than see the history lost when the Fongs decided to retire, a local man came to the rescue and took over the business. He's given the diner a facelift but kept the 1950s/1960s look and feel.
Today, it needs your help. In these tough economic times, it takes courage to open a restaurant or take over a historic lunch and dinner counter.
From our pal Paula Francis at KLAS-8:
CLASSIC DINER OPENS IN TOUGH TIME:
A local man who says retirement was driving him crazy admits he may be even crazier to open a new restaurant in the middle of a recession. But after resurrecting the old Huntridge Diner, he’s just hoping the retro restaurant’s colorful past will help it survive long enough to have a future.
It’s 50’s and 60’s decor, music, and milkshakes are definitely a blast from the past. If the historic Huntridge Diner can hang on long enough, it’s future could be as bright and shiny as its new facelift.
Just like the music, the old-fashioned milkshake machines are shaking again and the burgers, ground from fresh round daily, are sizzling on the grill. “I make everything the moment they ask for it,” said Chef Moses Cruz.
The historic diner, located inside the old Huntridge Drugstore at east Charleston and Maryland Parkway is back in business, much to the delight of old time Las Vegans like Mayor Oscar Goodman and young new regulars like Chris Turner — who can spot a good thing even if he wasn’t even born yet the first time it came around. “It looks like it would have 50 years ago. It’s cool,” he said.
“This fountain behind me is 40-years-old. You just don’t see places like these anymore,” said restaurant operator Joel Holffman.
Its bright red booths, shiny counter tops and freshly painted walls are adorned with 50’s and 60’s memorabilia. In fact, Hoffman says all that’s missing here is a steady stream of customers. “It’s frustrating! If the place was dirty, I could understand it. Or if the food wasn’t good, I could understand it,” he said. “Our prices — $6.95 for a fresh grilled hamburger or philly steak, fries and a soda.”
But like the historic Huntridge Theater directly across the street, which remains closed for now, the Huntride Diner went out of business for a while as well. “I remember going to the Huntridge next door when it was a movie theater. I saw Woodstock there. Wow, that was 40 years ago,” said customer Brian Babbitt.
Hoffman wonders if folks, like long-time resident Brian Babbitt, just haven’t realized the historic restaurant is back in business and better than ever. “If they come in once, they’ll be back,” he said.
Hoffman says he only needs 50 customers a day to turn a profit. But right now he’s only averaging 10 to 12. He says word of mouth will have to start traveling faster if the restaurant is going to survive the recession.
And yes, we will have our salute to the 40th anniversary of the King in Las Vegas later this afternoon!