Thomas McCarthy

Thomas McCarthy recently made the leap from Incline Village at Lake Tahoe, where he owns the restaurant Bites with his wife, Brooke, to open Urban Beets in the space formerly occupied by Spread Peace Café. The restaurant, 50 N. Sierra St., can be reached at 384-5380. For more information about hours and such, check out

What is your experience [prior to opening Urban Beets]?

At this point, I have about 15 years of restaurant experience in various capacities, primarily front of the house. I currently own and operate with my wife a restaurant called Bites in Incline Village.

And what is the difference between having a restaurant in Incline Village and a restaurant in Reno?

There are many differences. The seasons certainly are different. They’re both subject to some seasonality, but certainly, different ones for different reasons. Essentially for me, it’s coming from a small town to an urban environment, which makes great differences in terms of marketing and kind of getting the word out. You can’t rely simply on posting up a sign, and then ultimately executing well. There are a couple steps in between to kind of get yourself out there, get yourself known. And then ultimately, executing well on a tightly focused concept and providing great customer service.

I see you’re doing a lot of musical events since you opened. What’s your strategy for music and events?

That’s where we really see ourselves in the evening. We look at dining and drinking and so forth as great accompaniments to having great live entertainment and/or other forms of entertainment using the assets that were in place with the space itself. We have great HD televisions and a very intricate audio-visual system. So we intend to use those assets in the best way that we see we can. We’ve got a lot of great content and entertainment coming through the video screens on various nights, as well as using our great stage and audio system to tap into the talent of musicians who play locally. That ranges from acoustic singer/songwriters on Friday afternoon for happy hour as well as band or full-stage-use acts on Friday and Saturday nights. Also, with the kitchen open late, we’ll do live music and entertainment while dining, and then ultimately a Sunday jazz brunch with jazz trios, local acts, that kind of set the tone for a Sunday brunch with a Bloody Mary or a Billini overlooking the river.

I was just going to ask you if there were Bloody Marys.

We’re calling it the Urban Mary, actually. We infuse all of our own flavored vodkas in-house. Our goal is to be simple, well-executed, fresh, and ultimately healthy. Using the unique kitchen that we have in place, we let that concept spill over into the bar. We do our own flavored vodkas, one of which we use in the Urban Mary. It’s a red-beet infused vodka, which provides both a unique color and quite a different flavor.

What was your strategy for crafting the menu?

We have kind of a unique kitchen. When the folks who preceded us put in the kitchen, they did it with the intention of creating a healthy-minded menu. Using that as kind of a base place, we said, ‘Let’s also create a health conscious menu using fresh ingredients and quality execution.’ Instead of reinventing the wheel and setting the culinary world on fire with the latest trend, or an ever-changing menu, our goal is to find a few things that work well through both lunch and happy hour and ultimately through the live entertainment in the evenings—something you could enjoy casually while dining with friends. It’s a very social dining experience.