Meet Your Merchant: Canyon Creek Grill – a hands-on operation
It’s been about three months since Justin Schmidt and his father Paul opened Canyon Creek Grill and Bar on Mica Drive, south of Carson City.
Their mission is simple, said Justin Schmidt, 24: “It’s something different from all the corporate restaurants you see everywhere. We wanted to create a destination restaurant.”
Paul Schmidt has owned the Denny’s in Carson City and South Lake Tahoe for years. When he and his son started talking about opening a new restaurant they considered another franchise, but soon realized they wanted more control over their business.
“We didn’t want to be the large corporate restaurant chain, we wanted it to be special,” Schmidt said. “I think you can go to an Applebee’s anywhere in the nation.”
So Justin Schmidt, who was working in real estate and construction in the Sacramento area, moved to Carson City about seven months ago and helped his father build Canyon Creek inside the former Mott Canyon Tavern & Grill.
Using his construction skills, and some help from others, Justin installed new booths, a bar and patio with a fire pit while creating a menu and picking out the silverware to put on the tables.
“If I wasn’t designing the menu I had the saw out and was building booths,” Schmidt said.
They opened the restaurant in July, with another location planned to open in Sparks later this fall.
Their menu includes casual dining fare – burgers, pizzas, sandwiches, steaks, chicken, seafood – but they also offer a new exotic meat each week such as ostrich, venison, alligator and eventually shark (and possibly rattlesnake).
The Schmidts also smoke their meats in a smoker outside the restaurant and offer 12 beers on tap. They have live jazz or blues music from 7-9 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday.
Schmidt said the first 30 days of business were difficult.
“So this is a new venture for me,” he said. “It’s had its fair share of challenges, but it’s been equally rewarding as well.”