Originally brought to Las Vegas in 1998, Chef Sam DeMarco officially returned to the culinary scene after several years overseas on September 15th. Known as Sammy D to fans and friends, the former chef behind Strip favorites Sam's American and First Food & Bar can now be found overseeing 7th & Carson downtown. Aptly described as “a nice little drinking spot with really great food” by owner Liam Dwyer, it was after a very enjoyable visit to the two-year old restaurant that Best of Vegas had the opportunity to sit down and discuss the collaboration in addition to the days ahead.
How did you and Sammy meet, and what do you like about his food?
Liam Dwyer: Sammy and I were both brought to Las Vegas by Steve Wynn. Sammy, back in 1998, to open up Sam’s American, at Bellagio, and me in 2001, with Light Group to open Light Nightclub at Bellagio. We didn’t know each other well back in those days, but we were re introduced by a mutual friend, John Newton from the Downtown Project in the summer of 2019. I was in need of someone to take 7th & Carson to the next level, and Sammy was the right man for the job. I love everything about his food. Sammy has a unique ability to turn any ingredients into something special. When chefs from all around the Las Vegas valley want something good to eat, they seek out Sammy D.
How do you see downtown evolving in next 12 months?
LD: Fremont East has been in an ongoing transition to become the hub of the downtown community, especially from a culinary perspective. We are lucky to be on the ground during the construction of this community because we believe in all of the amazing culinary offerings that have been fostered downtown, and that they will attract global tourists off the main resort corridor, so that in the near future they may enjoy what we have to offer. We are also working closely with the Mayor’s Office and Project Enchilada to be ready for the unveiling of the Fremont East experience coming within the next six months.
How will the menu be evolving in the future?
LD: Our menu here at 7th & Carson is constantly evolving to customer desires. Our restaurant is not a rigid platform, we are always evaluating and developing to fit the needs of our customers and clients. For example, we built a menu for Lip Smacking Foodie Tours that caters to the international traveler who wants to taste of the off-strip experience. We are currently building a Sammy D Thanksgiving Day menu for locals and tourists alike to attract more customers downtown. We are also working with the Fremont Street Experience to create a prelaunch dining party to celebrate FSE’s launch of their new canopy on New Year’s Eve.
How do you want to make 7th & Carson stand out from other restaurants downtown?
LD: 7th & Carson stands on its namesake cross streets; I gave it this name to plant my flag in the downtown community. I want locals and tourists alike to become acquainted with something new and unconventional from the neotraditional strip experience, to embrace the cultural heart of Las Vegas, that of being downtown. Fremont Street is the hearth of this city, and I would like to reinvigorate the roots of where Las Vegas truly began.
What have you learned in the first 2 years of business?
LD: I spent 17 years inside the MGM corporation. With 1000 guest rooms over my head, surrounded by casino marketing, and special events, I forgot my true roots of hospitality, creating something organic. Building a new platform that I could create from the bottom up began to light up my life. I wanted to experience the joy of getting to work in the morning, turning on the lights and opening the door to have people come from all over the world to enjoy the culinary delights that 7th & Carson has to offer. Working with the Downtown Project, and with the guidance of Tony Hseih, Derek Stevens, and the mayor, I was truly inspired to re-engage with the local community. 7th & Carson is not just one person or staff. 7th & Carson is the community, and that’s what makes me smile every day.