The Grand Sierra Resort has added a taste of Philly to its restaurant row.
Chickie’s & Pete’s sports bar—which got its start 45 years ago and became a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love—opened in the GSR in early December.
In a town with sports bars in seemingly every other shopping center, and big-screen TVs taking up wall space in many other bars, restaurants, taverns and dives, does the Truckee Meadows really need another place to drink beer, eat pub food and watch games?
Christopher Abraham, the Grand Sierra’s vice president of marketing, thinks it does. “We wanted to bring something new to the market that’s unique and hasn’t been done before,” he said.
What’s different from the usual pint-and-hot-wings eatery? Let’s start with the crabfries, the restaurant’s MVP on the menu. A regular order of crinkle-cut fries, sprinkled with Old Bay and other seasonings, is offered for $11, while the “ultimate crabfries” option will set you back $29. The upgrade starts with the same crisp fries and seasonings, and is then layered with a creamy white cheese sauce and topped with chunks of crab. The substantial portion is a tasty, if messy, option for a shareable appetizer. You may need a fork for this rich and decadent take on French fries.
The menu includes expected sports-bar fare, such as pizza and burgers, but Chickie’s & Pete’s adds an upscale seafood twist to just about everything. Lisa’s Blonde Lobster Pie, for example, is a white pizza topped with fresh lobster meat ($49). The crust, crustacean and cream sauce make a great combo.
The ultimate tailgate burger ($29) is topped with a large crab cake drizzled with aioli sauce between a brioche bun. The restaurant got its start in Philadelphia, and its Philly cheese steak ($19) is served with onions, peppers and cheese sauce. Add (what else?) lobster, and the cost goes to $39.
Just about anything on the menu can be prepared with the addition of lobster or crab. That’s been a tradition since Peter and Henrietta Ciarrocchi opened the first Chickie’s and Pete’s in Philadelphia in 1977. The place was a hit, and other incarnations of the sports bar popped up in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Minnesota and, of course, Nevada.
Founder Peter Ciarrocchi was on hand for the Reno opening. He and his son, Pete Jr., helped guide the preparations for the bar/restaurant’s début. The father-and-son duo helped train the staff and told them the business’ origin story, a tale the servers pass along to patrons at the tables.
Sports bar food often seems to cater to carnivores, but vegans and vegetarians also watch sporting events and get hungry while doing so. Chickie’s & Pete’s offers a selection of meat-free dishes including vegan crabfries ($11), veggie nachos ($19), a BBQ meatless pizza ($22), an onion-shroom burger ($18) and “cheesy” crabfries, minus the crab ($20).
The sports bar hopes to attract guests staying at the GSR as well as local fans, Abraham said. Weekend visitors from the Bay Area, who often come to Reno to gamble on sporting events, are among the bar’s target customers.
If Pete Ciarrocchi’s smile and energy are any indication, the restaurant that bears his name will rack up a high score in Reno. His excitement in opening another restaurant was infectious … or maybe, as a Philadelphia Eagles fan, he is just riding high with his team having the NFL’s best record (as of this writing).
The restaurant’s walls are covered in HD TVs, and each seat has an unobstructed view of the screens. A variety of live sporting events, game highlights and sports talk shows are on all the time.
The addition of Chickie’s & Pete’s is part of a $10 million investment for the GSR, which also remodeled the sports book next to the new restaurant. The new William Hill Race and Sportsbook is a 3,000 square foot space surrounded by televised sporting events on the walls. Diners with bets riding on games can move seamlessly between the sports book and restaurant without missing any of the action.
“My guess is that 75% of the people watching (games) here on Sunday have some sort of bet in place,” Abraham said.
The bar also has live entertainment every weekend and will host a mix of local bands and DJs; karaoke nights are a possibility. Nevada locals can receive a 20% discount Sunday through Thursday.