Oscar Amador Edo, chef-partner behind both eponymous concepts, and his team gives OTS insights on their expansion endeavors
The second in a series of stories following the growth of off-Strip restaurant favorites. Read the first part about Esther’s Kitchen.
Whether opening new restaurants or expanding on existing ones, Las Vegas is not an easy place to do either. Not every restaurateur has the backing of a celebrity or hospitality group. The pandemic also has affected both staffing and guests’ dining routines. Maybe it’s a numbers game. Restaurants are notoriously understood to be a gamble in and of themselves.
The local dining scene enjoys the celebrity and big-group restaurants, of course, but it’s protective–almost fiercely–of the chef-owner-entrepreneur. So, when they are successful, growing and contributing to the community, they are to be revered.
Let’s celebrate some recent home-grown achievements in our neighborhoods. Join us as we explore a series of restaurants and hospitality groups growing their companies, teams and menus all around the Las Vegas valley.
EDO Grows its Soul with Anima
In 2018, EDO opened with an edgy concept offering Spanish tapas with a globally-influenced twist. Some dishes are Japanese in nature, others are French, Italian, South American, Moroccan and more.
It’s an objectively tiny space for a restaurant, tucked into a busy, restaurant-heavy shopping center near the corner of Spring Mountain Road and Jones Boulevard. The outside is understated but intriguing, with dark windows and red wood trim.
Walking through the door is like a dream sequence, leaving behind the noisy street and the large parking lot. Guests escape the bustling city as they enter an intimate red-gold dining room with large murals, textured walls and dark wood.
The kitchen is hidden in the back of the restaurant. The only hint of the amazing cocktail menu and wine list is a beautifully-appointed gin cart. There’s no room for anything bigger. Yet the size of and vast creativity of the menu along with the welcoming coziness of the space fashions its own vibe. It’s an idyllic spot for one of the best meals in Las Vegas.
The small footprint makes for a full booking schedule almost every night, which means turning away diners. Needing more room or another location was obvious, but which is the best choice?
Enter Anima by EDO
Walking into Anima (meaning “soul”) is intriguing in a different way. Unlike EDO, guests see everything. It’s significantly larger, but exudes the same intimate ambiance of EDO. The space is brighter with a semi-open kitchen and chef’s-table style dining bar. Additionally, Anima’s offerings include a charcuterie and seafood counter plus a cocktail bar.
There are colorful murals here, too; the largest is an octopus painting that is visible from all parts of the main entry and surrounding area. The walls of the restaurant are white and bright, the trim is dark wood, and the seating brings in luxurious red tones against warm, wooden tables. The relationship of Anima to EDO is in these details, while maintaining its own look and feel.
While the main entry and front dining area are tinted and shaded against the Las Vegas sun, the grandiose windows at the front of the restaurant let in a lot of natural light.
Where EDO sits in the middle of Las Vegas’s energetic Chinatown, Anima is almost tranquil. The restaurant is situated on a ground floor space in the multi-use, modern, and quiet community called The Gramercy. The upscale neighborhood is a collection of condominiums, offices, shops and restaurants.
“We felt that this immediate area here is the newest, really booming area where the demographics [fit our newest ideas] well,” says Roberto Liendo, partner in EDO and Anima by EDO. He says the area was ready for a concept that is a little “more on the edgy side… [something] a little more creative, a little more modern.”
And he says, it’s easily accessible to everyone, just off the interchange of 215 and Russell on the southwest side of the valley. “We like to be a destination. So as a destination here, we feel that it’s a really good position to be where everybody can visit us and experience something new.”
The two restaurants are related, but each location has its own personality. Both include Catalan-Spanish influence; however, EDO tends toward Asian and other global influences while Anima has an Italian twist.
Opening During a Pandemic—‘Creativity is Key’
The pandemic changed how people approach work and jobs across almost all industries, but the restaurant, service, and hospitality industry have taken one of the largest hits.
Whether it is the uncertainty of this occupation after the pandemic shutdowns or the impact of diners changing their habits, the food and beverage sector experienced a fragmented comeback over the past two years.
The good news, says Liendo, is “there are plenty of people that want to work and learn from our chefs and learn from our culture. And so we were able to bring a lot of talented people.”
That includes former Ferraro’s executive chef, Sicilian-born Francesco di Caudo. The executive chef’s Italian fare and flair includes handmade pastas, unique sauces, and inspired flavor combinations. He’s earned countless awards and accolades, including Chef of the Year. Caudo’s ingenuity both complements and challenges the Anima team. It’s a restaurant borne of creativity and the menu reflects that.
“He brings it to another level, you know?” Liendo says, “He doesn’t just fit, he helps us grow. We are very happy working together.”
Add to that a dedicated team, most of whom remained with EDO during all of it, and the balance was largely maintained. Partner James Mikulich adds, “We do a good job, I think, of cultivating a good family. And the people that are loyal to us have been there [with us], mostly from the beginning.”
The pandemic also influenced the logistics of wine buying, ingredients procurement and everything involved in the restaurant’s daily consumables. Additionally, this impacted the larger supply chains.
“Everyone is having supply issues, including some of the suppliers themselves,” says Liendo. “A vicious cycle that has unfortunately been sustained with a shutdown, a slow reopening, and many permanent closures; vendors are not stocking as much because they aren’t selling as much. Their suppliers are lowering the quantities available for the same reason.”
“We had an entire truck of produce leave Los Angeles for Las Vegas… and they forgot our order,” Liendo says about one of their orders, “on a weekend.”
Oscar Amador Edo, chef-partner behind both eponymous concepts, highlights his love for and now the sustained necessity of seasonality and creativity. He says that these supply-chain issues force them to be even more imaginative than usual.
He adds, “It’s possible, they’re short [of their own orders], too, and that’s kind of crazy to think about. But it’s not something that we’re struggling [too hard] to manage. We are creative anyway, you know, we like coming up with new things. So we have restaurants like Anima and EDO that keep changing and we keep doing specials. We love it as part of what we do, so this forces us [to do more]. So we play around with what we have.”
Mikulich, also the wine director for both locations, feels similarly. “It’s made us be a little more strategic in how we buy, and a lot of that has to do with the relationships we have with our distributors. [They have helped us] become very efficient at what we buy, and making sure we are not just buying loosely.”
“Because creativity is key to what we do, we want to stand out and be completely different. You run the risk of completely losing someone [when you have to adapt or change a lot], sure, but I think we do a very good job mixing the stand-out with relatability.”
Training the staff is harder when they must pivot quickly in a restaurant that’s hitting pandemic-era scarcities, he says. Despite the ever-evolving restaurant industry, they are dedicated to that extra work, ensuring that everyone is armed with all the information they need to educate the diner on each dish, “so it’s a little more comforting for them.”
Coming Soon – La Brasseria
Not wanting to dilute the energy of Anima, a growing space in the Las Vegas culinary scene, we still had to ask. Having seen an unofficial social media snippet two to three months ago, our curiosity was piqued. “Is there another location planned for Summerlin? Are you going into Tivoli Village?”
The response is more of a look. All three partners glance at each other, quiet for a moment, and they all smile.
“Yes!” There’s some laughter. The excitement is palpable.
La Brasseria, with a menu of French-Catalan-Spanish influence, is planned for Tivoli Village in Summerlin in late 2022.
Taking over a space that once housed Kabuki, a Japanese sushi restaurant, and Boston Fish House, an east coast-style seafood restaurant, the EDO family is partnering with LEV Group to open this location.
“It will be different food from EDO and Anima, of course, but, you know, we have our own style,” chef Amador Edo points out.
“The same trend,” adds Mikulich.
“And the design,” says Liendo. “Beautiful.”
Mikulich jumps back in, “One of the coolest living restaurants in the city; massive bar, massive patio.”
Experience Local. Where to go and what to eat:
EDO Tapas: 3400 South Jones Boulevard Suite #11A, Las Vegas, NV 89146
- Get the tasting menu. Going a la carte? Get the Foie Gras Terrine, Bikini, and Hudson Valley Duck Breast, to start. And order off the gin cart.
Anima by EDO: 9205 W Russell Rd #185, Las Vegas, NV 89148
- Get the Green Tartare, Bagna Cauda, and the Turbot. Order off the seasonal cocktail menu or ask for a wine pairing.
La Brasseria: Opening late 2022 in Tivoli Village, 400 S. Rampart Dr., Las Vegas NV 89145