DAKOTA DUNES – Trattoria Fresco owner Israel Padilla wanted to expand his business to Dakota Dunes with a very innovative concept.
Why couldn’t one space house two entirely different restaurants?
In January 2000, Padilla purchased Graham’s Grill & Pub, a traditional restaurant offering burgers, sandwiches and predominantly American cuisine, at 201 Tower Road.
Still, the veteran chef is best known for the high-end Italian dishes he prepares at Trattoria Fresco, 511 Fourth St.
This is how Padilla conceived the idea of opening a “two-in-one” restaurant, with separate dining rooms.
“Graham’s has built up a solid and loyal following over the years,” he explained. “I wanted to keep them on board.”
Still, Padilla knew Siouxland was ready for an upscale restaurant featuring favorite Italian steakhouses and cutting-edge cuisine.
“Part of the id Graham’s property and the other half is the new Luccie’s Italian Steakhouse,” he said. “We literally have the best of both worlds.”
People also read…
That’s how Padilla feels today. A few months after purchasing the property, the world was rocked by COVID-19 concerns.
“I had Graham’s and then the pandemic hit,” he said with a sigh. “Everything changed overnight, but I knew the only way was to move on.”
Since taking over ownership of Graham’s, Padilla and his team have completely renovated the interior of the restaurant.
“Running a restaurant is like being on a roller coaster,” he explained. “Sometimes you have to strap yourself in for all the ups and downs.”
Padilla is currently experiencing the benefits of restaurant ownership.
The property’s recently updated kitchen is now complete with sleek modern appliances and tons of elbow room.
“I’m so used to small kitchens,” Padilla offered with a laugh. “This one is quite luxurious compared to what I’m used to.”
However, Padilla is quick to point out that it’s the food, not the cosmetics, that makes a restaurant successful.
True to its name, Luccie’s Italian Steakhouse is all about beef.
From prime rib to filet mignon and T-bone, Luccie’s steaks are served with a choice of vegetables or a side of pasta.
Also on the menu are fan favorites such as Fettuccine Alfredo, Cabatelli Calbasa and a Pappardelle with Rosemary Portabella Mushrooms.
The majority of menu items came from Padilla, who grew up in the restaurant business.
“My family owns restaurants,” he said. “It’s the only lifestyle I know.”
Luckily, dad Samuel Padilla will help out at Trattoria Fresco while his son sorts out the issues at Luccie’s.
Which is good for Padilla, who said Trattoria and Luccie will carve out separate identities for themselves.
“Dad’s cute old school and Trattoria will be the most traditional place you go for pasta,” he said. “At Luccie, we will be more experimental while having fun with our food.”