So long, Joe
INSIDE VEGAS by Steve Miller
April 17, 2006
From 1960 to 2001, Joe Kludjian
the most popular restaurant in
Vegas, the Golden
, located on West Sahara Ave. Joe died Tuesday,
April 4. He was 81.
The "Steer," as it's
fondly called, remains one of our town's favorite
watering holes. Today, a steak costs upward of $40,
and the historic saloon is still a hang out for Sin City's famous and
infamous. But my fondest memory of the place dates back to the early
60's when the best
steak in town went for $8.95, and was within the budget of a
sixteen-year-old man about town
This is the story of how I met Joe Kludjian, as published on October 7,
1999 in the Las Vegas Weekly
Las Vegas Weekly
Imploding LV History
In 1999, our town is left with a scant history of
locally owned dinner houses
By Steve Miller
October 7, 1999
I was sixteen years old and had just obtained my driver's license. In dad's
Cadillac I picked up my best girl for a night on the town including
dinner at Las Vegas' finest restaurant and a movie.
to act sophisticated as we entered the Golden Steer on West Sahara and
were seated. Pretending I was a regular customer, I ordered two New
York cuts and French fries, with a salad prepared tableside.
hour of what I thought was my most charming conversation highlighted
with great food, the tuxedo-clad waiter presented our check. The total
tab was around $25 for a delightful dinner. I reached into my sport
coat pocket for my wallet. It wasn't there.
flinching, I groped through my other pockets for my elusive wallet. I
then came to the horrible realization that I had left it at home. What
is a 16-year-old man-about-town to do in such a situation?
great self-control I casually excused myself to go to the men's room. I
made a beeline for the hostess' podium and firmly asked to see the
owner or manager.
later a short, bald, middle-aged man appeared. He introduced himself as
Joe Kludjian, the owner, and asked about the problem.
explained that I had left my money at home and that I did not want my
girlfriend to know. I requested that I be allowed to go home and get my
wallet. I offered to leave my watch--and my date at the restaurant as
collateral, just please don't tell her anything.
looked me up and down, pulled a pen from his vest pocket, ordered me to
sign the bill along with my address and phone number and tersely said,
"Total it up and don't forget the tip!" He then announced "Young man,
you now have a charge account at the Golden Steer!"
like a Las Vegas big shot, my girl and I left the "Steer" and
momentarily stopped off at my house so I could "get something" from
inside. The rest of the night was pleasant but uneventful.
following week my first statement arrived in the mail. My dad curiously
presented it to me with the question, "What's this?"
replied nonchalantly, "Oh, that's my bill from the Golden Steer. I have
a charge account there."
month thereafter I eagerly awaited my statement in the envelope with
the embossed golden bovine on the front. My dad always seemed like he
was proud to deliver it to me.
the Las Vegas of the 1960s. I went on to become a regular at the Golden
Steer and have ever since considered Joe Kludjian to be a good friend.
Today I still enjoy reminding Joe of my adolescent dilemma when I see
him at the Golden Eagle or Golden Steer restaurants he still operates.
those formative years our town was very small, everyone knew their
neighbors, left their front door unlocked, and a 16 year old could
still get the keys to his dad's new Cadillac on a Saturday night. As a
shipping clerk, I made a salary of $50 per week and could afford to be
a Saturday night regular at some of the best restaurants in town. Keep
in mind that $30 would pay for two great meals, including a tip.
back to the '60s, I remember wonderful evenings at our town's favorite
local haunts including the Golden Steer, Battista's Hole in the Wall,
Coach and Four, the Flame, Copa Lounge, Hill Top House, Larry's
Fireside, Sunrise Cedars, The Italian Villa, Chateau Vegas, Fong's
Garden, The Green Shack, Twin Lakes Lodge, the Daydream Ranch, the
Rocking Horse Ranch, Gelo's, the Prime Rib, Louigie's, Musso's,
Colonial House, Bob Taylor's Ranch House, The Old Ranch, Alpine Village
Inn, El Sombrero, El Cholo, Bonnie Springs, Nick's in Henderson, and
the Mt. Charleston Lodge.
how many of our town's family owned dining spots still remain in
business? With the original owners or their families participating, I
am saddened to say only a few. Following the recent
closing of the Green Shack, our town is left with a scant history of
locally owned dinner houses that have survived the competition of
gambling subsidization over the past 30 to 40 years.
local supper clubs that have survived three or more decades of single
family ownership now only include the Golden Steer, Batista's, Fong's
Gardens, El Sombrero, Bonnie Springs and the Mt. Charleston Lodge. I
may have inadvertently forgotten one or two others and I apologize if I
Vegas has become a town without a history. You can still get a good
meal at a great price at a casino, but what happened to the independent
restaurants that set the mood back when? I don't remember such
attrition happening to restaurants in other cities our size. The
competition created by the casinos is just too great to overcome for
mom and pop to stay in business in the Las Vegas of the '90s. Many
other cities throughout the US are about to experience the same fate as
gambling continues to expand outside Nevada. It seems that we are too
engrossed in imploding our history to remember what made our town what
it is today.
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