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October 24, 2014

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Going gourmet

Las Vegas native bets on upscale burgers

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Beverly Poppe

LBS: A Burger Joint owner Billy Richardson

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File it under "How come we never thought of that?" — cocktails made with VitaminWater. Such an obvious pairing. Among the four Adult Vitamin selections are Power C Dragonfruit Vitamin with Skyy Infusions Passion Fruit vodka and fresh-squeezed lemon juice and agave nectar and Defense Raspberry Apple Vitamin with Skyy Infusions Raspberry vodka and sour apple pucker (pictured). Vitamins + a killer buzz = another round, please.

For Billy Richardson, it all comes down to burgers.

What we scarf down without thinking at drive-through windows, mall food courts and sporting events, he saw as the next wave of gastronomical innovation in Las Vegas. In 2008, he opened LBS: A Burger Joint, an upscale burger concept at Red Rock Resort.

"We wanted to create something that looked like it had been here a long time," Richardson said. "Our inspiration was stuff that you would see in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia — places that you just can't go in and implode the building and start from scratch."

In creating the 3,500-square-foot space, which looks, in his words, like an old warehouse with a casino built around it, the native Las Vegan mined his experience in the hospitality industry, stretching back to the nightclub he helped launch at Luxor in 1998. LBS couldn't be just any burger restaurant; it had to stand out. So he lined the walls with reversed license plates and old brick and stocked the menu full of vegetarian burgers and craft beers.

What Richardson calls "really good food at an affordable price" really has taken off, and a recent menu change (fewer fried foods, more health-conscious options) has given return guests, of which there are many, another reason to keep coming back.

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