Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse
Issue Spring 15
It takes a lot for a restaurant concept to distinguish itself in the marketplace. Fortunately for California steakhouse chain Tahoe Joe’s, it has no shortage of elements that make it stand out from the crowd. Whether it’s the unique look of its alpine ski-lodge themed restaurants, the always-from-scratch cooking, the high level of hospitality or its signature menu items, Divisional Vice President David Glennon says “Tahoe Joe’s offers guests an escape from the typical steakhouse experience, and that’s been an essential component of its success for nearly two decades.”
Since it was founded by a Fresno, Calif.-based restaurateur nearly 20 years ago, Tahoe Joe’s has expanded to 10 locations throughout California. Although the Tahoe Joe’s concept can best be described as polished casual, Glennon says the company considers any steakhouse – no matter the price point – to be its competition. “When we deliver on what our guests count on us for – our scratch-made entrée’s, hand-crafted cocktails and our hospitality – it’s an experience that’s tough to beat,” he says.
Look and Feel
The first difference guests will notice when they visit a Tahoe Joe’s restaurant for the first time is the look and feel of the location. The décor of each location is inspired by the Alpine Ski Lodges around Lake Tahoe, with exposed pine log beams and stone fireplaces bringing to mind a comfortable, woodsy atmosphere. Once they are greeted by the Tahoe Joe’s staff, it becomes even more apparent that it is a different kind of steakhouse.
“What helps set us apart is our hospitality,” Glennon says. He describes Tahoe Joe’s philosophy as “enlightened hospitality,” adding that every team member’s goal is to treat every guest as if he or she were a friend visiting their own home. Glennon says Tahoe Joe’s servers “spend a lot of time striving to make personal connections with our guests and helping them understand the menu. Our goal is to ensure that every guest leaves a ‘friend of Joe.’”
The menu at Tahoe Joe’s also has a lot to offer guests. Glennon says the company still features all-from-scratch kitchens that don’t rely on any pre-made or pre-processed ingredients, which is a rarity in today’s restaurant industry. Tahoe Joe’s also grills all of its steaks, chops and seafood over an authentic, almond-wood fire, which imparts a unique flavor that few steakhouse can offer.
Their signature Joe’s Steak is slow-roasted for more than 19 hours, then rolled in cracked black pepper and grilled over almond wood. “It’s tender, has a flavor that’s very unique – and it’s memorable,” Glennon says, adding that the Joe’s Steak is just one of three signature menu items that help push Tahoe Joe’s further ahead of the pack when it comes to the steakhouse segment.
Another signature item on Tahoe Joe’s menu is the Railroad Camp Shrimp appetizer, in which shrimp are hand-battered in a tempura-style batter and tossed in a sweet and spicy soy sauce then piled high over a bed of shredded lettuce, wontons and peanuts tossed in a cucumber vinaigrette. Glennon says the Railroad Camp Shrimp have become a craved item throughout the state and are our most popular appetizer. “You can’t find them anywhere but Tahoe Joe’s,” he says.
Joining the rest of the delights found on Tahoe Joe’s dessert menu is its third signature item, the to-die-for Nevada Cheesecake. Glennon says the Nevada Cheesecake is much lighter than a typical cheesecake because the choice ingredients are whipped for more than an hour before being poured over the crust and baked.
Having service and an atmosphere that are head and shoulders above the rest of the industry is also essential for helping a concept like Tahoe Joe’s turn first-timers into long-time guests in an age of increasing food awareness. Glennon says this makes finding and recruiting the best people for its team incredibly important.
“We are our people – they are the ones creating memorable experiences each day with our guests,” Glennon explains. “If it wasn’t for our skilled managers and team members, we certainly would not have the success we have experienced. I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by such talent.”
The strength of Tahoe Joe’s people is one of the main reasons the company has posted 18 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales growth, and Glennon says the company has high hopes for the future as a result. Tahoe Joe’s recently opened its 10th location in Chino, Calif., and Glennon says the new location’s “contemporary rustic” look is something that the company could implement across more locations in the future. With this new but still distinct element added to its unique concept, Tahoe Joe’s expects to continue welcoming guests for a long time.