Think opening a restaurant is crazy? How about opening one during a lingering national recession: One that serves only four basic sandwiches from a menu that was dreamed up some 30 years ago?
Meet Gary Swiss: The man behind Crazy G’s Burgers, Phillys and Dogs.
He knows the statistics for restaurant failures. He knows the gamble of a specialized menu. He’s just not letting any of it stop him.
Swiss worked as an engineer for semiconductor companies in California and Arizona during his 37-year career. After retirement, he and his wife Chris moved to Spokane to be closer to her family.
But a longtime itch to open a burger joint haunted him. So, he decided to see what kind of burgers he could scare up in the Spokane area. Swiss gained 20 pounds doing his research, but he was still left with a hankering for a thick, charbroiled beef patty topped with New York deli-style pastrami and thick bacon.
That’s when he decided to give the menu he’d dreamed up 30 years ago a shot. Everyone told him he was crazy… so he named the joint Crazy G’s.
Crazy G’s opened almost a month ago at 821 N. Division St., a space previously home to Sourdough Place near Jewelry Design Center. If you want to know what to expect, pictures of the sandwiches are on the wall near the register.
“If your food does not look like that, I want to know about it. It means we’re not doing it right,” Swiss says.
All of the burgers, dogs, phillys and chicken are grilled to order. Each order takes about 15 to 20 minutes to make.
“We’re not a fast-food restaurant,” Swiss says. “We call it quick service … This is a niche between fast food and full service, where we’re serving by far greater quality than fast food.”
Crazy G’s signature burger, the Certifiable Crazy, is a 6-ounce Angus beef patty topped with pastrami, bacon, cheese (pick provolone, cheddar or Swiss), caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and Crazy sauce ($6.25 or $8.75 in a combo meal with fries or onion tanglers and a medium drink.) Swiss won’t reveal what’s in the sauce, but says it’s been popular: “We’ve actually converted people from tartar sauce.”
Or, try one of Crazy G’s chargrilled dogs, served with mustard, ketchup, sweet relish and sauerkraut, if you like. The Crazy Dog is $4.75 ($7.25/combo), or get the Super Crazy Dog with added bacon and cheese for $5.25 ($7.75/combo). The restaurant also serves a grilled chicken with choice of cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms and sauce ($5.75, or $8.25/combo) or a Crazy Philly made from beef sliced in-house and grilled with onions, green peppers and topped with provolone cheese ($6.25 or $8.75/combo).
Crazy G’s is open 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The restaurant can be reached at (509) 315-8943.
Barbecue on the Hill
Drag yer bones up the South Hill for a shot of vitamin ’Q.
Lazy Bones Barbecue has opened at 4334 S. Regal St., the spot briefly home to Wheat Montana.
Owner John Fletcher is the brother in the brother-sister team that opened Picabu Bistro, 901 W. 14th Ave. His sister, Jane Edwards, bought his share of the restaurant so he could try something new, he says.
Everything on the Lazy Bones Barbecue menu is made from scratch.
“We smoke our ribs at a low temperature for about three hours with apple and cherry wood,” he says. “The pork gets smoked for nine hours … for the pulled pork.”
Fletcher developed the menu with pit master Chris Luce.
A half-pound order of baby back ribs, served with the choice of one of 14 side dishes, is $9.79. Half a smoked barbecue chicken is $11.99.
There are also plates of smoked chopped pork. A 6-ounce portion with a side and bread is $8.99 (10 ounces/$10.99). Swap for 6 ounces of smoked beef tri-tip for $11.59 (10 ounces/$15.99. There’s also a sample plate that serves two (or three) featuring a pound of baby backs, 6 ounces of pork and half a chicken, along with cornbread, potato salad and slaw ($28.99).
Lazy Bones also offers grilled wild salmon and smoked barbecue tofu slabs. (The restaurant’s sauces are gluten free and vegetarian items are prepared on a separate grill. They offer vegetarian/vegan and gluten-free menus.)
Chargrilled burgers, wraps, salads and sandwiches also are on the menu, along with a few barbecue-inspired dishes: Smoked pork tacos ($3.49 for two) or grilled prawn skewers dipped in a citrus glaze and topped with a spicy macadamia/coconut barbecue rub ($8.89).
Among the side dishes are traditional barbecue accompaniments such as coleslaw, baked beans and sweet potato fries. There are some nontraditional offerings for those who want to go a bit easier on their waistline. Try lentil-apple salad, grilled vegetable kebabs or Southern greens with your ’cue.
Take-out is available.
Lazy Bones Barbecue is open Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The restaurant can be reached at (509) 448-7427 (RIBS). Find the menu and grand-opening week specials at www.lazybones barbecue.com.
Goodbye Katrina, Hello Hacienda
Adriana and Jorge Hernandez have opened the new Hacienda Las Flores Mexican Restaurant in the space once home to La Katrina Tacos, 510 S. Freya St.
The couple lived in Coeur d’Alene and worked at Rancho Viejo before moving to Spokane to open the restaurant.
“We wanted to make our own business for our family,” says Adriana Hernandez.
The menu includes many Mexican-American dishes along with Flores and Hernandez family favorites from Mexico City.
Dinner entrée prices range from $9.50 for basic quesadilla, enchilada, taco, tostada, burrito, chalupa, tamale, chimichanga or chile relleno plates served with a choice of cheese, ground beef, chicken or picadillo (shredded beef and pork) to $18.99 for the house special Hacienda Plate featuring carne asada, chicken, pork and shrimp served with tortillas, refried or whole beans and rice. Children’s plates range from $3.99 to $7.25.
Hacienda Las Flores is open 11 a.m.- 9 p.m., Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The phone number is (509) 315-8853.
•Chef Raymond Delfino, president of the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation’s Chefs de Cuisine, recently landed at Washington State University in Dining Services.
Chef Delfino began working with catering and banquets at WSU in April and says he hopes to stay on after the busy season in an associate manager chef position.
Delfino, who was the executive chef at the Spokane Club for thirteen and half years, says he left the club in February.
“They wanted to go a different direction so we parted ways,” he says.
•Mountain Cafe and Catering in Kellogg, Idaho is open for the summer season.
The restaurant specializes in big breakfasts, quick lunches, espresso and catering. It started out as Mountain Tapas, but later shifted efforts to fueling skiers and bikers and other hungry folks in the gondola village at Silver Mountain Resort, 604 Bunker Ave., Suite 7B in Kellogg.
The restaurant pours locally roasted Bumper Crop Coffee.
Breakfast is served until noon.
A menu is online at http://mountaincafeand catering.com.
•Manito’s Park Bench Cafe begins its summer hours later this month. Right now, it is open limited hours.
The cafe opened in 1923, offering light meals and other goodies. This season, sandwiches and soup, Rocket Bakery pastries, wraps, salads, hand dipped ice cream, smoothies, espresso and drinks are on the menu.
There are free treats for dogs and dog water.
For their human companions, new menu items include breakfast parfait, tomato and basil bisque, Greek salad and fresh-squeezed lemonade.
The cafe will be open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week starting June 17.