“Let’s have fun, let’s drink, and let’s eat because Sanjay’s got the bill!” Executive Chef David Holman said at the Sparks Campo grand opening toast last week.
After a successful launch of their downtown Reno flagship restaurant back in 2011, owner Sanjay Lillaney had been looking at locations in Sparks to open up a Campo. He said that he had been looking at Sparks locations for over nine years because he couldn’t find any high-scale restaurants outside of the casinos. Lillaney feels that the location of Campo is in a growing community where people want to move.
“I love the economy in Sparks,” Lillaney said.
Lillaney, who owns a number of Burger King franchises in Northern Nevada and California, is a self-proclaimed foodie. His favorite Campo foods are the cauliflower (even though he’s not a big fan of vegetables) and the budino- an Italian custard and caramel in a cookie crust served in a mason jar.
The Sparks Campo also has what it says is the largest selection of draft beers in all of Northern Nevada.
“We have 80 beers on tap; 72 of them that are craft,” Lillaney said. “We also have wine that you can buy at retail rates; you don’t have to go to Total Wine anymore.”
Though Lillaney opened the Sparks Campo, he depends on upper management to run it efficiently.
“This is David’s baby,” Lillaney says of Holman. “This is his life. I give him more power than any other executive chef.”
Holman was with Charlie Palmer Steak for 14 years before joining Campo a few months ago.
“This is a great opportunity to come out here and open up a new restaurant,” Holman said. “I’m so excited to be with the Campo crew. They have a similar style to Charlie’s but Campo uses super fresh, local flavors.”
Although Campo Sparks opened on July 1, Lillaney wanted his employees to get comfortable before inviting the town to the special grand opening a week later . Since the soft opening, Lillaney said that business has been better than expected.
“It’s been going off like gangbusters,” he added.
Several hundred people attended the July 7 grand opening, adorned with several food and drink stations in the lively atmosphere.
“This is right down the street from where we live,” Sparks’ resident Eric Lantto said. Lantto said that since he is a vegetarian, there have been limited dining options for him in his wife in Sparks until Campo came along. “The food is wonderful, the drinks are great, and this is a really good turnout. I highly suggest to anybody who’s looking for a new place to go- if they come here they won’t be disappointed.”
Another Sparks’ local, Rebecca Morris, said that the new Campo is “fabulous; exactly what this area needed and the service is impeccable.”
Maybe that’s because the staff is equally as thrilled to be there. Recently Kelly Gannon moved to Sparks from Florida just to join the Campo team.
“I saw photos of the food on Facebook and immediately thought ‘I have to work there,’’ said Gannon, a chef at the restaurant.
“In the last three days I’ve learned so much,” she says. “I made gnocchi for the first time by hand and just made tomato pesto from scratch. David has hired an amazing group of chefs.”