“It’s kind of bittersweet,” Sheridan Su said as he prepared an order of bao for a pair of longtime customers on Saturday. Like dozens of others, they’d dropped by to show their support for the chef and his girlfriend, Jenny Wong, on Great Bao Café’s final day.
“We’ve outgrown this place,” Su continues. “We’ve been doing more than we can out of this space for a long time now. So I’ve always wanted to look for something bigger. But at the same time, this was kind of our start.”
“Outgrown” is an understatement. Great Bao Café is little more than a six-seat snack bar in the lobby of Touch Salon and Spa. Yet during the past 10 months, Su’s bao sandwiches have become some of the most talked-about dishes in town, even garnering a mention in a recent New York Times article about the Las Vegas food scene. Growing pains aren’t the reason the restaurant is closing, however. The salon was recently sold, and the new owner is refusing to honor the restaurant’s lease. Rather than fight it out in court over the final two months on their lease, the couple decided it was time to move on. (The salon’s owner didn’t respond to requests to be interviewed.)
Su, who worked in the world-class kitchens of Joel Robuchon and Comme Ça before a financially disastrous experiment with his own food truck, isn’t giving up on his dream to run his own restaurant. He and Wong are eying spaces downtown. In the meantime, they’ve relaunched the Great Bao food truck, and are considering regular stops in the Touch parking lot.
“We’ere pretty positive,” Su says. “Even in our last week here we’ve done probably our most sales ever. That’s the kind of support we’ve gotten out of Vegas and the food community.” AL MANCINI