35 Steaks & Martinis general manager welcomes you ‘home’
It all started for Mario Gonzalez in his family’s restaurant in Veracruz, Mexico—that’s where he got his start in the food and beverage industry. From there to 35 Steaks & Martinis at Hard Rock Hotel, it’s been a success story.
He moved to L.A. in 1980 to work at the famous Rainbow Bar & Grill. A couple of years after that he was working for celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck—10 years in and he was helping manage the famous Spago in Beverly Hills. In 1999, Gonzalez made the move to Las Vegas to open Puck’s Postrio restaurant. After that, Gonzalez managed some of the city’s best dining establishments. In 2013, he joined 35 Steaks.
“Being the general manager—it’s like taking care of my house,” he said. “I open the doors, take care of the guests, big smile, eye contact. They’ll know we have something good here.”
Besides enjoying excellent food—Gonzalez suggests every table start with the seafood tower, or order the 35-ounce tomahawk steak—it’s not unusual for guests to dine next to stars. “When KISS had their residency show, they ate here every night,” Gonzalez said. “Rascal Flatts, too, many of the bands, musicians playing at The Joint, they all come and eat here.”
After more than 30 years in the biz, Gonzalez still finds it exciting. “I enjoy doing this,” he said. “And if you love what you do, and you have fun and do the best you can, you’re going to keep winning. I love every day opening this restaurant and making people happy.”
Of the dozen specialty martinis offered at 35 Steaks & Martinis, the Spicy Serrano martini is the biggest seller by far. “Almost every table orders one,” Gonzalez said. With a little sweetness and a little spice, the martini mixes Belvedere Intense vodka, fresh basil, sweet and sour mix, crushed Serrano peppers and a splash of syrup. Gonzalez also suggests, if your party is in celebration mode, trying the restaurant’s own sparkling wine. Named “35,” the demi-sec sparkling wine was specially made three years ago and pairs well with the seafood tower, said Gonzalez.