Partage is expanding with an elevated version called Grand Cru
The third in a series of stories following the growth of off-Strip restaurant favorites. Read the previous parts about Esther’s Kitchen, EDO and Anima.
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.
In 2015, with “nothing but their backpacks and savings,” manager Nicolas Kalpokdjian, executive chef Yuri Szarzewski and pastry chef Vincent Pellerin arrived in Las Vegas from Paris to begin their new culinary adventure.
Starting with EATT and a healthy, often gluten-free and vegan menu, they had “identified a need for gourmet healthy food” in their beloved and home-grown French style.
EATT was initially opened and designed as a bistro-inspired eatery that customers could enjoy on a delivery or to-go basis. There was a dine-in option, but the main focus was on creating takeout meals. “Very quickly we found out that our clientele was expecting to stay and dine-in to enjoy our chef’s food,” says Kalpokdjian. “That pushed him to create more and more daily specials and soon enough, once we got our wine and beer license, we became a full service restaurant.”
EATT, now closed, was not meant as an incubator for Partage, their current French concept. Because of EATT’s style and focus, it was a wholly separate concept. He says that EATT and Partage were similar in that they based their menus on seasonality and fresh ingredients, but the food and the dining experience was too different to compare further.
“Eatt was more a daily bistro you can go to a few times a month, order 3 courses and pay $60, go home and feel satisfied,” says Kalpokdjian. “Partage is more [of] a celebration restaurant where you spend more than two hours enjoying surprise tasting menus with a [curated] wine pairing.”
He states that earlier experiences with EATT helped the team navigate their vision and define their goals. This step aided in narrowing their focus to include or exclude experiences as needed. “We learned a lot from the local market [while at EATT] and what were our guests’ expectations [were] when it comes to French food.”
Partage (meaning “sharing” in French) originally allowed diners to choose between an a la carte option–including a menu of 26 choices for sharing–and prix-fixe tasting menus. “When we reopened [after COVID-19 shutdowns], we focused on the tasting menus as it was already 70% of our orders. Now, we are only offering five, seven, and nine course surprise tasting menus that we change monthly.”
Join the Wine Club
Kalpokdjian and partners have also opened The French Cellar by Partage. A brick-and-mortar extension of the Partage wine club, housed in the same space once occupied by EATT.
“[We] don’t see it as an extension of Partage but they both work together. We have clients at [The French] Cellar who [have] become regulars at Partage and vice versa. They compliment each other very well and FC is a great way to stay in touch with our clients on a more regular basis.”
The French Cellar became a “needed” hosting space as the wine club expanded, so taking the concept and creating a related but separate wine bar had a dual purpose: extend the potential for events while expanding tasting hours for wine club members to five days a week, and introduce highly curated wines to the public in a unique and educational way.
The French Cellar offers a wide variety of French wines for tasting and for sale to-go, as well as tasting options and pairings with small bites such as charcuterie, cheese, smoked salmon, and escargots.
The Cellar, as Kalpokdjian calls it, is already a fairly new and redesigned extension of sorts. When asked if he and his partners will expand on it, he says, “The French Cellar has a great location as a significant proportion of our members live in Summerlin, so it will stay. We can’t expand it more but now that we rebuilt the patio, we are planning on covering it to be able to host more events with larger crowds all year long.”
A Great Vintage Should be Shared
They are, however, extending and expanding on Partage. Grand Cru by Partage (grand cru meaning “great vintage” or “great high quality winery”)–the newly planned extension–”is an elevated version of Partage. We will only offer 10 seats per night for an immersive experience. The idea is to attract even more [guests] looking for an exclusive, customized experience.”
Any expansion is a challenge, especially in what is still a fairly new city and with not one, but three hospitality ventures in their portfolio. Preparing for Grand Cru is no easy task. It starts with knowing your audience and their desires, he says, and adds that his family taught him hospitality, always offering an open door and a seat at the table to others. It was about understanding every detail and wanting to go above and beyond to create a complete experience.
“I learned before the day I moved in here that I should forget everything I learned in France as doing business in the US [is very] different and I had to think big. Even though it took me time to get rid of some French habits, that new mindset really helped me adapting to grow and expand.”
That mindset and early research was paramount in creating the delicious and hospitable spaces operated today. “When I started flying here to do market study back in 2012 and 2013, I realized that the off-Strip dining scene was mostly franchises and I felt that there was room for independent, chef-driven concepts.” He further explains they found themselves arriving in Las Vegas during a period of transition in which he saw many chefs leaving the Strip for opportunities off the Strip.
Kalpokdjian adds that they have learned that they “can’t please everyone,” but have great focus on their clients and guests. The team does everything within their power to offer a memorable experience.
Live Like a Local
And why Las Vegas for all of this? “Moving to Las Vegas was my childhood dream. I started reading the local newspaper back in 2008 to know what was happening, to be ready the day I would move. I see it as an accomplishment of my childhood and an extension of my entrepreneurial spirit that likes to be challenged.”
He continues, “We were going through the lines in front of the DMV at 7 a.m. to survey people to [get] their feedback about what was missing in Las Vegas, restaurant-wise. Those are great memories that made me very happy about my choice to move here.”
They may not have known anyone when they arrived, but they worked hard at creating fulfilling relationships.
“There is definitely a community,” says Kalpokdjian, “we all know of each other and all respect each other’s work and vision. My partners and I like to support other local restaurants during our days off and we have the pleasure to also host local chefs and restauranteurs at Partage.”
Opening and expanding during the COVID-19 pandemic has cast a pall on the whole endeavor; so many local restaurants suffered dramatically over the past two years and more. Seeing new growth is heartening and inspiring.
“During tough times like COVID, the notion of community made even more sense,” he says, adding “we organized Zoom calls between some of us to share our feedback, ideas and challenges. No one kept resourceful information for himself and it was a great platform for everyone to sustain during a very challenging period of time.”
He continues to laud his clients and guests as a reason to always keep moving forward in what can sometimes be darker times. “As I [have] said, we focus on our loyal customers and we know that they patronize other restaurants off and on [the] Strip; we are thriving on doing what we do best to satisfy our guests when they join us for dinner.”
After Grand Cru, there are no plans for a further expansion, at least not in the immediate future. “I think the French food scene has a good amount of options, so no plans on additional restaurants. For the wine, I think we tapped into an untapped market so I feel there is still room for more wine experiences in Las Vegas.”
Experience Local. Where to go and what to eat:
Partage: 3839 Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas, NV 89102
- Get the tasting menu and wine pairing.
The French Cellar by Partage: 7865 W Sahara Ave #104, Las Vegas, NV 89117
- Talk to the sommelier about your wine tastes, and ask them to pair a board with your flights.
Grand Cru, opening September 2022 at Partage.