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MEET: THE BLACK SHEEP:

Suburban dinner spot inspired by the Strip

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Mikayla Whitmore

Jon Schwalb, left, and Andy Hooper, along with Chef Jamie Tran, recently opened The Black Sheep in southwest Las Vegas.

Mon, Oct 9, 2017 (2 a.m.)

For the Black Sheep, an American-Vietnamese restaurant that opened in May, chef Jamie Tran crafted a menu inspired by her childhood, beyond such staples as pho and banh mi. Tran, who formerly worked at Aureole and DB Brasserie, says she was called the black sheep of her family for being the only sibling to follow her father’s footsteps into the culinary world. But the restaurant’s name goes beyond her nickname.

What’s the story behind your business’s name?

Jon Schwalb: We believe in rule-breaking. We are bringing a playfully rebellious spirit to the southwest side of the valley through our food, drinks and music. Bringing a Strip-inspired atmosphere and menu to the suburbs at an approachable value is the best sense of being a “black sheep.”

Who are your customers?

Andy Hooper: Our customers are a really nice mix of people of all ages. Early evenings are a mix of happy-hour professionals, families and Rhodes Ranch residents. As the night goes on, professionals in their 20s and 30s are looking for quality food and cocktails in a fun atmosphere.

What makes your restaurant unique?

Andy Hooper: Our design is reflective of something you would find in a bigger city. We’ve created an intimate setting that features warm lighting, modern rustic decor and an uptempo soundtrack highlighting our favorite music.

Why are you open only at night?

Jon Schwalb: We wanted to be a destination for the evening. Rather than competing with our neighbors, we decided to complement them and specialize in a focused dinner experience. Lunch revolves around getting in somewhere, ordering quickly and getting back to work.

By only doing dinner in a small physical footprint, we can be a special occasion venue without the special occasion prices.

What is your most popular dish?

Andy Hooper: Chef Jamie Tran has created a menu based on seasonal availability of ingredients. One of our most popular entrees is our braised Duroc pork belly with seasonal mushrooms, sticky rice, mustard greens, crunchy chicarone and cherry sauce.

What’s the best business advice you’ve received?

Jon Schwalb: Filter decision making through a five-year lens. Focus the majority of our energy on what will matter years from now and try to eliminate the distraction of unimportant short-term noise.

What obstacles has your business overcome?

Andy Hooper: Our obstacle is similar to any new business opening: “Will anyone show up?” We have been fortunate to have not only opened our doors on schedule but received great support from our neighbors and the community right from the start.

Where do you the company five years from now?

Jon Schwalb: We hope to continue to grow our reach and establish the Black Sheep as a neighborhood staple in the southwest. These are still early days for us, and it is exciting to think about our guests growing with us from the current early days to anniversaries, birthdays and other celebrations for years to come.

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