Chef Brian Howard reflects on two years of success at Sparrow + Wolf

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Sabin Orr

Brian Howard is celebrating two years of Sparrow + Wolf.

Sun, Jun 9, 2019 (2 a.m.)

Sparrow + Wolf has been one of the city’s most celebrated restaurants on or off the Strip since before it opened two years ago.

Chef and owner Brian Howard, a Michigan native and veteran of casino fine dining restaurants, managed to meet and exceed the expectations of a foodie following built up over almost 20 years of working in Las Vegas. Now he’s balancing the prospects of expansion with the day-to-day maintenance of his beloved creation.

“We still get new guests all the time, which is amazing. That means we’re still doing something right,” Howard says. “In year one we made a lot of noise. We had to make our mark and we did. Year two is like holding it level. And now it’s important to really stick our flag in the ground and show who Sparrow + Wolf is. It’s a neighborhood restaurant and we didn’t put any definition on it outside of that. As long as it’s cohesive, the flavors can come from wherever we want.”

The constantly changing menu has shown varied influences from Asian and Mediterranean cuisines and currently contains flavors and ingredients from Mexico and Latin America. “I cook inspired food and I’m inspired by different cultures and different neighborhoods,” Howard says.

The Chinatown restaurant opened 2019 with a renovation that moved the entrance closer to Spring Mountain Road and expanded the private dining room and the venue’s total capacity. The change has helped keep the dining experience fresh for repeat customers and maintained Sparrow + Wolf on local foodies’ hot lists.

“We’ve probably turned down a dozen different deals and people ask me all the time why I’m not doing another restaurant. I’m not ready,” Howard says. “I want to make sure we maximize our potential at this restaurant. No. 2 will be even more important. I feel like that really defines your brand. We’re taking our time, but it’s also about building our people. The team is why the restaurant is successful.”

Howard expanded in a different way this year when he collaborated with the Howard Hughes Corporation to create FlyDog, a line of hot dogs offered at the Las Vegas Ballpark in Downtown Summerlin, home of the Aviators.

“It’s the first time I’ve done something like that where I’ve been a little disconnected from my food, since they manage and staff [the concessions],” he says. “But they crush it. They hit the ball out of the park and I’m excited to be a part of it. With everything I do, the goal is not to open a bunch of restaurants, it’s [about] providing opportunity. I could probably be comfortable just having this restaurant but I wouldn’t create as many opportunities for people. I have to grow because they have to grow. I have to create room or else I’d lose people that are really good, but I don’t know if I’d have it any other way.”

Sparrow + Wolf (4480 Spring Mountain Road, 702-790-2147) is open daily from 5 to 11 p.m.

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