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Las Vegas pizzaiolo dishes on 'za and owning downtown's Hard Hat Lounge

hard hat lounge
Hard Hat Lounge
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Frank Sidoris (L) and Robby Cunningham (R).

A Las Vegas rocker got together with a self-made pizza man to buy an old school dive bar downtown: Hard Hat Lounge is one of the oldest operating bars in Southern Nevada.

And it just reopened in the Arts District under new ownership. The 60-year-old bar is known now as much for its pizza as its libations. 

State of Nevada producer Lorraine Blanco Moss talked with pizzaiolo Robby Cunningham for KNPR’s “Five Minute Food Fix."

Cunningham said he got started with a pizza pan he ordered on Amazon and a recipe that took three times to get to the current one.

At the time, he was a bartender at Artifice, but has been making pizzas in Hard Hat for two years. 

“The most popular, most trending pizza right now is Detroit style because nobody can get enough of it,” he said.

And he wasn’t exactly expecting to co-own Hard Hat.

The previous owner had sold the business to a third party and after a meeting, “he’s offering to sell me the business and I was like, ‘Wait, what?’”

He called his friend and Las Vegas rocker Frank Sidoris to talk about the offer and made it work.

Now, they plan to invest more into the event side of things at the bar, while retaining what makes it a classic dive bar. 

“The bar deserves to have more of an identity than just a gaming bar,” he said.

I moved out here when I was 28 from Detroit, looking for just any sort of opportunity. ... What am I going to provide to the world? ... I figured it out. And it feels great. And yeah, I'm ready to just take on the pizza world.

 

Robby Cunningham, owner, Hard Hat Lounge

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports. She started at Nevada Public Radio in October 2021.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the online editor for Nevada Public Radio. She oversees and writes State of Nevada’s online and social media content.