One of a kind
Laughing Planet is the hot new addition to Reno's growing food culture, but in some ways, that's sort of surprising. For one, authentic Renoites seem to prefer one-of-a-kind, only-in-Reno sorts of endeavors. Not to be indelicate, but there are a lot of people making healthful meat, smoothies and vegetarian dishes these days. That's where the unique top man, Tim Healion, enters the picture. For more information, check out laughingplanetcafe.com.
What in the world made you decide to come out of retirement and go back into the restaurant business?
It was either that or run for mayor. Bottom line. It’s super fun. I joke about it a couple ways—either it was a brilliant opportunity or it was an offer I couldn’t afford to lose. I got to work with an old pal who’d kind of taken some models that I’ve done in the past and evolved them to the next level. It’s kind of an evolution of what I’ve done in the past, and I’ve got somebody else writing the checks, so this is great.
But, it’s a franchise, right?
Actually the business model, technically in the business sense, is not a franchise; it’s a company-owned deal. There’s 12 of them in the whole world, and they’re all company-owned. So I don’t have a franchise. It’s a guy who used to work for me for a few years at Deux Gros Nez, back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, owns the company, and he’s been begging me to work for him the past six or seven years, and I’m finally doing it.
It appears to me that you’re just packed all the time. Does anyone ever get to sit still in that joint?
Hell no, man, it’s game on. It’s game on all the time. The people, when I’m interviewing and hiring people, I let them know it’s not a come-hang-out-and-have-fun-and-look-cool job. It’s work your ass off. It’s physical. We’re going hard all the time. It’s fun.
What’s the secret to that? We’ve had just a boatload of great new restaurants open in the last few years, but I think you’re kind of a phenom.
There’s a few things. I hate to pat myself on the back, but I did some stuff in this town that people really, really liked. And when I shut it down, some people were really bummed. So there’s a little bit of “What’s Tim Healion doing nowadays?” There’s people who come in and go, “Oh man, I miss Deux Gros Nez,” and I go along with it, but when they walk away, I don’t know who that person was. It’s kind of funny, man, but there’s a lot of the old Deux fan club, there’s even people who heard of Deux Gros Nez who never made it there. It’s somewhat of a legendary joint.
It was a lot of work for me, but for some people, it was their thing. We get a ton of those people, so that’s a big kick in the pants, that’s one thing that some people don’t have. The other things is the food. The whole thing is killer, man. It’s super nutritious, at an unbelievable price. I hate to use the word “cheap,” because cheap is kind of associated with Walmart, but it’s fricken not expensive. And you’re getting an unbelievably good food. Not just nutritious, but it tastes good. It’s a good package. And it’s fast. You go in there, and by the time you order, you’re getting your stuff in eight minutes.
What else should people know about the restaurant?
It’s one of those places that’s easy for anybody in any lifestyle to walk in the door and not feel uncomfortable, which is kind of a cool thing. There’s no pretense at that place. That was one of the things that was cool about Deux Gros Nez back in the day, too. You’d have casino owners sitting next to dudes with mohawks or tattooed guys sitting next to soccer moms and family. I think it’s pretty cool that way.