In Vegas, it seems people who hold positions in the food and beverage industry come and go as quickly as some of the tourists. But a few select people have withstood the test of time and stayed with their companies through the years — and their loyal patrons appreciate a familiar face in a quick-changing town.
Ilario Pesco has gone to work in the same building for almost 40 years. He’s seen the hotel become Bally’s (formerly the MGM Grand) and has been a part of several restaurant changes (formerly Caruso, GG, Barrymore) before currently working in Bally’s Steakhouse.
While just about everything from the customers to the food has changed, Pesco and many of his staff members have remained in the restaurant for decades. Most of the waiters in Bally’s Steakhouse have worked with Pesco for more than three decades. The newer wait staff have only worked with him for 10 – 15 years. With a loyal staff behind him, Pesco says his passion for what he does keeps him going.
“In my business, if you believe in what you do, you do well,” says Pesco. “The restaurant is like a picture, if the chef is not there, the manager is not there, then you change the picture. So I try to keep the picture the same. What it takes doesn’t matter— the show must go on.”
Many an after-show has gone on in Pesco’s restaurants — Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Tom Jones have all dined while he was at the helm. But even if you’re not a celebrity, you can still visit Pesco at Bally’s Steakhouse and the Sterling Brunch, where he works six days a week and has become a friendly familiar face.
“I live for my customers. If they don’t come to this restaurant, I am nobody and that’s what I believe in,” says Pesco.
Though Jay Morrison has only been at Twin Creeks in the Silverton for four years, he has been in the Vegas food and beverage industry since 1972, and boasts a résumé which includes The International Hotel (now LVH – Las Vegas Hotel), Bally’s and The Flamingo.
Morrison’s career has led him to some of the largest hotels on the Las Vegas Strip, so if anyone has advice for younger generations that want to have a sustainable career in Las Vegas, it would be him.
“It’s very simple, love what you do and always do it to the best of your ability. Give it all you got and keep it fun,” says Morrison.
Since July of 1985, Ron Randazzo, general manager of The Steakhouse at Circus Circus, has been hosting tourists and locals at the legendary spot. The food is simple, but consistent — and is still a great value.
Randazzo says through his 27 years with The Steakhouse, his commitment to quality and excellence is always high.
“Every time we win an award, our job just got harder because the standards are higher,” says Randazzo.
While the Brooklyn-born general manager has been at The Steakhouse for nearly three decades, some of his staff have been working at the restaurant even longer. Needless to say, the turnover of the waitstaff is low.
“We have three extra food servers who have been there for more than seven years, one of them for 15 years…we’re not hiring anytime soon,” says Randazzo.
Through the years, Randazzo has had some funny requests, including a twice-cooked, well-done steak from Montel Williams. But mostly, when celebrities like Holly Madison and Rich Little come to The Steakhouse, they’re low key — and hungry.
While Randazzo says it is a challenge keeping things fresh, he credits The Steakhouse’s familiar food, the staff and surroundings as being pluses.
“People like it, they’re comfortable — they don’t have to worry about the food or the service — no surprises,” says Randazzo.
You can visit Pesco, Morrison and Randazzo in their respective restaurants, where they are making guests feel welcome, nightly.