Category Archives: Hussong’s Pizarrón

Titan Brands VP of Operations named Restauranteur of the Year

On November 8th 2012, our own Operations Manager Michael Jasilewicz Jr. (“MJ”) was awarded the “Restaurateur of the Year” award by the Nevada Restaurant Association for his overall contribution in the hospitality industry.

By MJ’s own words, this is absolutely a team effort: “The people I work with who make my job easy… our family at Hussong’s Cantina, Slice of Vegas Pizza and Titan Brands, we did this together.”

Many reasons for why this is a tremendous honor. Let’s start with the most obvious few: an accredited association recognizing the efforts of our team member and acknowledgement by peers being at the top of that list.

Beyond these reasons, and without taking any importance away from those, we have our on list of why this award means a lot to all of us.

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From Left: Tony Cordovana, Slice of Vegas General Manager; Susan Perkins, Hussong’s Las Vegas General Manager; Scott Frost, Titan Brands President & Founder; Noe Alcala, Titan Brands Corporate Chef; Michael Jasilewicz, Titan Brands VP of Operations & Founder; Brian Mangino, Titan Brands Operations Manager & Founder; Natalie Gula, Titan Brands Events Coordinator; Kim Repetti, Titan Brands Financial Controller.

First off, Titan’s path wasn’t straight forward, or made easy by family wealth, lucky timing or really, much of “lucky” anything. We are grateful to each and every investor from the big ones to the small ones, grateful to those who believed in our potential and our talents. Every building brick of Titan’s properties have been fought for, handled and laid with extreme effort, dedication, labor and discipline. There were several personal challenges including but not limited to the most severe one, Scott Frost’s dirt bike accident; there have been arguments, battles, let downs and disappointments, but mainly, there have been plain hard work filled days. All through this, we have been committed to upholding moral codes, honoring few simple rules and acting according to our core values. Recognition of this caliber validates not only our blood and sweat, but also our strength and faith in ourselves and the direction we chose.

Second, who are we kidding – Titan Brands was the under dog in the line up of nominees, and who doesn’t love a good under dog story? Titan, although undoubtfully an accomplished management company with a great deal of success, still younger than many companies up for the award. Our list of currently operated restaurants is, well – briefer. With a strategic focus on casual concepts, our resume is absent of the sexiness, loudness and extravaganza, often connected with steep but short term profits. And yet, none of this ever served as an excuse to compromise our values – good quality of food, great service and – the most noteworthy reason this award warms our hearts: employee happiness.

Employee happiness is a long-term investment. Its lack of instant return is why many companies choose to ignore it or somewhere down the road abandon it as their core value. Titan didn’t and will not.

We live and work in a city whose lights are often in stark contrast to its own residents’ emotional states. The money made, invested and played with, could easily fill up the Mojave desert. Side by side with all tourists busy forgetting about their real lives, are hard working people with sadly too real of lives, with normal problems like broken down cars, sick children, heartbreaks and losses much more serious than roulette money. These realities though are not welcome in the fun lights of the Vegas night. Employees in these lit-up, energy buzzing buildings become shadows with seemingly irrelevant stories, unfit as a backdrop for everyone’s personal Hangover movie.

On a daily basis, MJ chooses to make these stories (and their characters) not only relevant, but also heard. Through providing each working family member with a sense of belonging and purpose, positive work environment and integrity in the work place, he’s built a dedicated and hard working team. He’s made it his goal to share this skill and mindset with all managers working under the Titan Brands umbrella; he’s also learning much from his staff and his partners. On any given day (some are harder, some easier) MJ is striving to live out his motto: “Be the difference you wish to see in the world.”

As a testament how well he’s done at this, this family comprised of Husssong’s, Slice of Vegas and Titan Brands employees and partners, has chosen to re-pay him the favor and took the actual step of submitting him for a nominee of the Restaurateur of the Year, voluntarily sharing genuine words about the impact MJ has made.

The fact that the Nevada Restaurant Association chose to recognize this as one the greatest successes a man can achieve is remarkable and a more optimistic forecast for Las Vegas than any anticipated economic upturn.

Congratulations to MJ!

With gratitude and pride,
The Titan Brands team.


Hussong’s Happy Hour; don’t miss our most popular appetizer for only $4!



Camarón a la Diabla; so spicy you need a Bulldog with it!


Craving some spice today!? Enjoy our weekly special, sautéd shrimp covered in our house A la Diabla sauce. Served with a torta crostini along side a cauliflower pure, sauté bok choy and white rice, for $18. And since it's Thursday (Bulldog's on special for $13) and you will probably feel the kick of the Devil from these shrimp, don't leave here without a Bulldog to kill your thirst after this meal!


Hussong’s Enters its 3rd Year Stronger, Smarter and More United

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This past week Hussong’s Cantina Las Vegas marked the beginning of its third year of successful operation. Unlike our first anniversary, we celebrated our second birthday quietly and without a party. In no way does this mean we are less proud of the progress and accomplishments our staff and management showed in 2011. It’s in fact the other way around. We’ve been so busy working hard and maintaining the levels of performance established that we just worked right through our own second birthday!

2011 was a great year for Hussong’s. After some initial clean up, we stabilized our operations, improved our food, remodeled our kitchen, increased sales, had fun with the marketing, added a whole new line of retail and made adjustment in the food and beverage product. All for the better. Most prominently though, 2011 was a people year.

Our Hussong’s family grew strong and our family bond was strengthened in our second year. While we were working on the business, we constantly reminded ourselves to follow our core values and continued to treat others as we would like to be treated. We believe all team members should share in the rewards so we took the opportunity to create teams consisting of both back of house and front of house family members. The teams competed against one in another in sales and attendance contests.  Teams were eligible to win weekly and monthly competitions. All winners enjoyed a month long fiesta resulting in the sharing of cash prizes, camping gear and 2 hours of go-cart racing at Pole Position. Guided by our core values, we stood by our family when it got tough, and in most cases, we were rewarded with the most loyal team members we could ever wish for. We welcomed new additions to our team whom, within no time at all, fit in perfectly. Among these new hires is our General Manager of four months, Susan Perkins.

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"The Three Amigos" - GM Susan, Front Manager JD & Stephanie (from top to bottom)

Susan has been working without sleep since she’s been hired, but since she’s a Fem-bot, this doesn’t present any issues. At times, upon following the sounds of rhythmic banging, we find her in the walk-in cooler and discover (as we feared) that the banging is her head hitting the wall. She calls this her stay-cool-chi practice. For the most part, Susan maintains her sense of humor about her new role and handles her responsibilities with relentless warrior like focus and determination. We thank her for that, and we are thankful that she chose to become a member of our elite fighting force. You never want to be opposing a Fem-bot. Susan wasn’t the only change in our management ranks.

2011 saw the rise of JD from server to manager. It is always a proud moment to see your children grow up. JD has been learning his new position and progressing nicely, proving that promoting from the inside has major advantages. We are looking forward to doing more of that this coming year, and also thank JD for all his hard work.

Our management team wouldn’t be complete without our most recent hire, Stephanie. Stephanie has become a part of our family, and we feel lucky having such a responsible and dedicated manager.  She completes The Three Amigos in front of house management. She’s also tall. We like that. (Since it’s only been few months since Stephanie got hired, we will report on her coping mechanisms as we learn more about them. We hope they won’t involve the walk in cooler. It might get a little crowded there.)

Overall, our team has shown tremendous growth and we couldn’t be prouder. We thank all of our workers for riding the ups and downs with us and continuing to work hard as a team. It isn’t always easy, but it surely always rewarding. The steps we took together towards higher standards and better performance in 2011 have now become automatic. This allows us to continue to raise the bar and challenge Hussong’s team members further. Constant challenge is a way to guarantee progress and not only better our services and product (which benefit our customers). Constant challenge also ensures individual growth of our employees, and that is one of our goals for 2012. Besides efforts towards service improvements, which we believe begin with happy and stable employees, we worked on our food and made some great improvements in this department.

Chef Noe and Sous Chef Jesus worked on many changes to our menu in the last year. We all agree that our dishes selection and consistency is still a work in progress as we continue to receive the plethora of opinions and feedback from our guests. Trying to reflect on all the suggestions we receive, without losing our own identity and the “Hussong’s touch” continues to be the biggest challenge we face. During our table visits with our customers, reading review website posts and sorting through comment cards, we patiently and openly welcome and weigh all feedback. We then make changes where a collective consensus is reached, while staying consistent with the definition of our brand. Please continue to share your thoughts and ideas with us, while keeping in mind that the most helpful comments are the honest, specific and constructive ones. The difference between: “I didn’t like this.” vs. “The soup was too salty for me.” is that the latter we can use and apply to wards a positive change.

Involving our customers in the evolution process is what we enjoy the most about this industry. But we are not mind readers (yet. Mind reading is also one of our goals for 2012).

Chef Noe congratulates one of our staff member during our Christmas party.

And last but not least, besides taking mind reading workshops, what will we do with ourselves in 2012?

Well, although it sounds boring, it will be more of the same. We want to continue to push our own limits and certainly continue to improve our services and our product. It is truly with great pride that we do what we do. We are proud to prepare meals for you, we are happy to serve you great drinks and provide you with a fun, laid back environment where you can enjoy your friends and family and have some laughs. Not everyday do we manage to perform these responsibilities to perfection but every day we try our hardest. Just like Scott Frost, Titan president and partner of Hussong’s Cantina Las Vegas.

Since being paralyzed in May 2009, Scott has taken small but fully committed steps towards perfecting his vision. At the grand opening, Scott personified our dedication to perseverance by taking 18 steps from the front door of Hussong’s to a seat at the bar. Just like Scott, we know where we are going. Some days are easier to get there than others, but there is no giving up. We have learned that our journey is what we make it, and we choose it to be enjoyable. We choose to work beside worthwhile people. The very people that support us in who we are and work together towards achieving our goals. This includes both our customers and Hussong’s family. We want to thank you all for an amazing second year. Please come raise your glasses with us, welcoming our third year and drink to many, many more years to come.

Salud!


Saying Goodbye to Three Racers in One Weekend

This past weekend tragic accidents took the lives of three car racers:  Indy 500 Champion Don Wheldon (33), “our own” off-road racer, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series Pro-4 Champion Rick Huseman (38) and his brother, Jeff (26), also a short course racer. To many who don’t follow motorsports or didn’t personally know any of the three athletes, these are just three more deaths that can be added to the silent list of lives lost on US roads, in the nation’s hospitals and in the world war zone, which all combined provide plentiful reasons to mourn.

I’m not in the business of comparing the significance of one death over another, much less one life over another. Although I coincidentally found myself in the same space with Rick & Jeff on Saturday night, that hardly makes me their friend. The thing about racers though (and I’m generalizing with complete confidence here as I know many of them), is that unlike a lot of us they live out their passion in their lives and that in return makes them very happy, grateful people. No matter how you feel about racing, we all have secret or not so secret passions, but really only a few of us get to even come close to bringing our desires to reality.  But racers do, and they work hard for it. It’s no matter if they are a pro or an amateur.  It’s a hunger they get to feed and when they do, just like a full belly, there is only fulfillment and satisfaction that then spreads contagiously onto anyone in their surroundings. And that’s a great gift to be giving to the rest of us. Think of how many people like this you know.  Someone who holds no resentment, because the deepest fire within is kept burning strong, rather than minimized, pushed aside or go forgotten. This doesn’t mean their lives are easy, or problem free, or without obstacles. It’s often the opposite. Racers are often intense, deep in their thought about the smallest of things we “regular” people can’t appreciate, and even when they are having fun away from racing, part of them is always on the track, in the desert, behind the steering wheel, in the shop, improving things, getting ready for the next race. It’s this determined, unwavering love for their sport and the fact they’ve been given the opportunity to repeatedly live it out, whether it’s once a month, once a week or daily, that manifests itself as a sense of gratitude and general deep appreciation of their own existence; quite the opposite of what most people otherwise interpret as disregard for life. Racers get to do what brings them to their highest state of fulfillment, and that somehow makes them an extremely inspirational group of people to be around. From what I hear, these three were no exception.

Although I never shook hands with neither Dan, Rick nor Jeff, this is what I think about: the world had lost three inspirational people that didn’t let anything stand in the way of their passion and fought for being able to do what makes them happy. If we are all honest with ourselves, this isn’t as common as it should be. I know that to their families and friends, so much more was lost than one’s person’s interpretation of their legacy. I still hope it is ok with their friends and families if I borrow this legacy as a source of my own inspiration and keep in my heart what I know these three men had in common – love of life. May you rest in peace. God Speed.

Dan Wheldon

Rick Huseman

Jeff Huseman's Pro Lite


We Added New Flavors to Menu Favorites!

A twist on taste brings new spice to Hussong’s Baja meets Mexican-American dishes

 LAS VEGAS—Hussong’s Cantina & Taqueria reinvents its sizzle with new flavors that expose diners to Baja’s best. Executive Chef Noe Alcala continues to create classic Mexican-American dishes and authentic Baja street fare that diners can enjoy in a fun and casual atmosphere.

Grilled Corn Plazero, a Must at Hussong's Cantina!

Hussong’s tasty yet affordable menu allows guests to start their night off with a selection of traditional appetizers with an original twist including cult favorite Plazero Grilled Corn, which is lightly brushed with mayo-butter and given a healthy sprinkle of cotija cheese and chili flakes, and Ceviche Baja Style with fresh shrimp marinated in lime and jalapeno and served in a Baja mix of cucumber, red onions, tomatoes and cilantro. The Guacamole Mango/Habanero is Hussong’s signature guacamole enhanced with mango, sundried tomatoes and Habanero peppers.

Our newest appetizer addition, mango-habanero guacamole with sundried tomatoes!

Delving into the heart of the menu, Hussong’s features simple and authentic entrees. These include the Carnitas Platter, charred Ensenada style carnitas finished with a citrus soda glaze, placed over fajitas veggie mix, topped with Habanero pickled onions and served with corn tortillas, rice and beans;

Carnitas Platter at Hussong's Cantina

Delicious, charred, perfect texture, juicy carnitas platter.

Mixed Plate Tacos gives guests a foursome of street tacos stuffed with the choice of protein on fresh corn tortillas, flour tortillas or lettuce shells, topped with pico de gallo and Mexican white cheese and served with a side of homemade Mexican rice and borracho beans;  Grilled Salmon is finished with a honey chipotle glaze and served over roasted garlic red potatoes and sautéed vegetable spaghetti. The Huarache, a tenderized flap steak atop a crispy tortilla and borracho beans and topped with layers of chile negro salsa, Chimichurri, pico de gallo, cotija chesse, sour cream and lettuce-cabbage, is a unique dish that gives 10% of sales to Fast-Aid, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing support for teams and their families and give support and assistance to injured racers to complete a thorough recovery and rehabilitation from motor sports racing incidents.

Grilled Salmon with Yummy Garlic Potatoes

Grilled Salmon with Yummy Garlic Potatoes

For dessert, guests can indulge in Fried Ice Cream, dulce de leche ice cream breaded with panko and served with fruit pico de gallo and a tomatillo salsa or Dessert Nachos made of fried flour tortillas coated with a sugar/cinnamon mix, drizzled with condensed milk and chocolate sauce, topped with a fruit pico de gallo and finished with a touch of whipping cream, strawberry and mint leaf.

The margarita was invented at Hussong’s in Ensenada and the Las Vegas location would not be complete without the Original Margarita, made of Azul Reposado 100% Blue Agave Tequila, Triple Sec, freshly Squeezed lime juice and Agave Nectar, which has never been known to disappoint. Another house favorite is the El Pepino Margarita, a combination of Milagro Silver 100% Blue Agave Tequila, Triple Sec, fresh sweet and sour and Gran Marnier.

Although a strip dining destination, Hussong’s also caters to Las Vegas locals with 20% off from 11pm to 4pm daily.

 


FOH July Employee of the Month, J.d S.

Our July employee of the month is server J.d. He is upbeat, fun, and extremely hard to dislike. He is mild tempered and professional. He walks the fine line of unforced competency and playful discipline, and does it real well. When we interviewed him, he actually interviewed us – he also came and checked out our restaurant as a guest prior to deciding whether he’d like to work for us.  We are really glad we passed. He’s been an asset from day one, and his reward and title of Employee of the Month is well deserved. Congratulations, J.d!

J.d is a huge music fan. He also has an interesting choice of superpower. Read on.

Where did you grow up?
I was born in a small town of 2,600 people LeRoy, Illinois. It’s the dead center of Illinois, about three hours south of Chicago, but I claim Chicago, because nobody knows where I am from.  My graduating class had 69 people in it. I got in the food industry there when0 I was 15 years old. I got my food permit and started bussing tables at this old bank that was gutted out and remade into a restaurant, called the The Old Bank Inn. That was the very first gig I had.

First kiss?
Uhm, I was definitely in 6th grade, her name was Abby Haller, I still talk to her till this day. That’s pretty cool. I kissed her by the big tires in our school playground. Sounds like your typical first kiss picture, but I remember it clear as day.  I asked her out to this fall festival like two days later. We still talk about it now, it’s pretty funny.

First car?
First car was a…well, we named it “Goooooo” cause I loved that phrase from Ace Ventura: “Goooooo!”. I don’t know, my friends whenever they’d see me they’d yell: “Goooooo!” so I named it…it was a Hyundai Excel, a little hatchback, horrible for snow, horrible for the winter season in Illinois, it was stick shift, of course.

Childhood role model?
My oldest brother. He was just your typical awesome athlete, scholar, everyone looked up to him. He was a mentor, and he also watched out for me all through high school, it was great. My mom was a teacher. She teaches music, kindergarten through 6th grade. It was annoying and hard having your mom as a teacher. She knew everything about me before even I did, but my oldest brother, he lived the way for me, he paved the way, he stuck up for me all through high school.

Current role model?
Now it’s hard to find one person to symbolize all of that…I can find pieces in family members and famous people, but total package, I think it’s hard.  It just seems like these days you have to find it in yourself, if it’s not there, it’s hard to find it in other places.

How do you like to spend your free time outside of work?
I am engulfed in music 100%. I love rock music, I miss it, it’s completely dead. But I’ve gotten a little bit into pop music, too,  Lady Gaga, I love Adele, I love old rock like Silverchair, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, those types of bands. My family is really musical, all of us. I play the piano, I can play the guitar, I can sing, my whole family can sing, like I go home and we all gather around piano and sing. It’s kind of ridiculous.

What do you like most about your job?
The thing I like about Hussong’s the most is that the dots are all connected.  It has a history, it has a niche, it has location. It has a backbone, like a family that it comes from. When I was searching for a job, I was looking for something that really had all the dots connected. And that’s why I chose here.

Ever had a concussion?
Never, the closest I came was in 8th grade. I was playing kickball in PE and I tripped over this girl’s foot and landed straight on my face, broke my front two teeth, my nerves were hanging out. So I kind of passed out for a minute…my mom worked at the opposite end of the school and she heard me scream from the PE, or felt me being in trouble anyways, one or the other because she came running. I opened my eyes and I see my mom and everyone searching for my two teeth all over the gym floor. Pretty bad.

Books or TV?
TV, and I’m ashamed of that, because TV sucks, and I am really picky and choosy about what I watch. I don’t just channel surf. I Tivo the shows that I like, mainly music and sports.  I have a lot of books at home just waiting to be read…I just really need to get started.

Ski or snowboard?
Ski.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I would, uhm…I’d like to glamour people. I think. That’ be awesome. I don’t want to fly or anything like that, I just want people to think the way I do when I want them to, you know? Just kind of glamour them, like a vampire, I’d like that.

Favorite magazine?
Rolling Stone, I’ve been getting it for like 6 years. Now that’s it’s coming out every month, it’s not as good, but it still has the key articles that make it great. And I like The Advocate. Good magazine, too.

Blonds or Brunettes?
Growing up my whole life, blondes. After I grew up, brunettes, for sure.

Glass half full or empty?
Half full. Unless I’m drinking. Then the motherf*$ker’s empty.

What is your dream location to visit?
I want to go to Europe. I want to backpack all over there, every little nook and cranny, I really wanna do it. I wouldn’t even wanna do it for a month. I’d wanna go for like 3 or 4 months. And I am going to. It’s just a matter of time. When all your ducks are in a row, you can definitely do something like that. So I’m waiting a little bit.

Public figure, dead or alive, you’d like to bring to Hussong’s for lunch and why?
I would bring Amy Winehouse here. I found a new love for her and her music and who she was, and the downfall and demise of Amy Winehouse. I’ve just been reading so much about it and the press had so much to do with it and I just want to talk to her about it. Like: ”I know you are influenced by certain things, but really, truly, what influenced you?” You know? I’d bring her here, give the shock treatment, some blackberry margarita and just talk.

Favorite Hussong’s dish?
The skirt steak Chille Relleño. No specific reason, it’s just amazing, the garlic, everything about it.


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