Restaurant introduces taste of Turkey to area
By DANIELLE NADLER
VIEW STAFF WRITER
Las Vegas isn’t short on Mediterranean eateries, but what it lacks is a taste of Turkey. That’s what pushed three Turkish-Americans to open what they consider the valley’s first Turkish restaurant, dubbed IBO Steakhouse.
The three owners, Ibo Olmeztoprak, Orhan Yuzen and Selmin Takmakli, brought their restaurant and hospitality experience under one roof to serve traditional Turkish cuisine. The restaurant and bar opened Dec. 22.
“My father said, ‘don’t ever forget where you come from,’ ” said Olmeztoprak, who grew up in Turkey before he moved to Montana in 1969. He worked as the food and beverage director and catering manager at The Stirling Club at Turnberry Place.
IBO, at 9755 W. Flamingo Road, stands out in the Grand Flamingo Center among several chain restaurants, including Famous Dave’s and Joe’s Crab Shack. The three owners bought the building that was once home to Boston Gourmet Pizza. They remodeled the 6,800-square-foot building to include stone walls, high-back booths and dark wood trimmings complemented with burgundy and gold décor.
“I want people to walk in here and feel good,” Olmeztoprak said.
“I love the surroundings.”
Turkish cuisine is known for its fresh vegetables, lamb, chicken and dips like hummus and baba ghanoush.
“We make everything fresh,” said executive chef Selmin Takmakli, who has 20 years of restaurant experience. “When it comes to Turkish food, this is as close as it gets.”
A bowl of lentil soup costs $5.95, and a tray of stuffed grape leaves costs $8.95. The menu lists 16 entrees, from $15.95 for chicken shish kabobs with two sides, to $32.95 for prime beef tenderloin served with sautéed vegetables, mashed potatoes and red wine sauce.
“Everything tastes great,” said Leslie Nipple, during her first visit to IBO.
She and her husband, Lorne, visited Istanbul, Turkey, nine years ago. They haven’t tasted Turkish food since.
The restaurant’s dining room seats 85 people, and the bar seats about 60. The bar is open 24 hours a day and offers both American and Turkish dishes. IBO will host live entertainment on Friday and Saturday evenings, including a Turkish band and, on special occasions, belly dancers.
“People get bored,” Olmeztoprak said of most eateries. “I want to offer something more.”
Olmeztoprak read through 600 applicants to find his team of 60 employees. Every day, he emphasizes hospitality.
“I don’t care what they know,” he said of his employees. “They need to treat guests with love and respect. I want to blow the socks off of hospitality here in Las Vegas.”
Contact Southeast and Southwest View reporter Danielle Nadler at email@example.com or 224-5524.