The cool kid on the Block
Helping to grow the food and beverage industry in Las Vegas, Billy Richardson, his chef/partner Anthony Meidenbauer and their company, Block 16 Hospitality, are on the path to greatness, as evidenced by their venues—The Barrymore, LBS: A Burger Joint, Pink’s Hot Dogs, Holsteins, Public House and Patty Wagon food truck—quickly becoming favorite hangouts for locals and tourists alike. Kiko Miyasato sat down with Richardson to learn more about him.
Q: What’s behind the name Block 16?
A: When they were building Hoover Dam, downtown (Vegas) was sectioned off into blocks. Block 16 just happened to be the block where gambling, bars and prostitution were … it was the block where all the entertainment was in Las Vegas.
Q: Which of your venues was most a labor of love to build?
A: The Barrymore over at the Royal Resort. What’s great about that is that we brought back the old gourmet room. In the old days you would go to Stardust, Desert Inn or Flamingo and they had a buffet, coffee shop and then one really nice restaurant. You would go to (the nice restaurant) and get dressed up; it was small and intimate, no celebrity chef, but just really good American food. …We brought back a place where people remember your name, bartenders know your drink, managers know who you are.
Q: How have you seen the food and beverage industry change in Vegas?
A: There are a lot more options. I think when Wolfgang Puck came and opened up Spago it was a really big deal. It was something that had never been done before. … He was the one that set the trend to bring all these other chefs to Las Vegas and it’s only gotten better.
Q: How is Block 16 contributing to the change?
A: With everything going on in the world, with the recession … we’ve tailored our restaurants to be more of a value.
Q: Any new ventures in the works?
A: We just acquired Gallery nightclub at Planet Hollywood. We’re working on a new project with Caesars Entertainment for one of their new venues.