Philadelphia Seafood & Italian Cuisine opens in the Ranchos |

Philadelphia Seafood & Italian Cuisine opens in the Ranchos

Amy Roby
Philadelphia owners Joel Gruneich,Suzy Hawkins and Allen Peake.
Special to The R-C

Much to the delight of a loyal customer base, doors to the Philadelphia restaurant in the Gardnerville Ranchos are now open.

The restaurant closed in June after previous owner Mike Fayer left the area. Chef Joel Gruneich and waitress Suzy Hawkins, both of whom worked at the original Philadelphia restaurant, considered how they might join forces to re-launch the eatery.

“It’s been a dream of Joel’s to have his own restaurant,” said Hawkins. “For the last couple of years, we (along with Gruneich’s wife, Pheonix) had talked about buying it.”

Earlier this year, when it became clear that the original restaurant’s closure was imminent, those discussions ramped up. A social media posting of Fayer’s that indicated Hawkins was contemplating the purchase really set the wheels in motion.

“I got a call from Allen (Peake),” said Hawkins. “I know him from taking my cars (to his auto shop), and he has helped me with fundraisers (for children in need) in the past.”

Peake and his wife, Nicole, own Double J Auto in Gardnerville and Double A Auto in Yerington. He called Hawkins to express his interest in the restaurant and to offer support.

Customers chimed in with enthusiastic endorsement of the purchase. “They said, ‘Don’t let it shut down! Figure it out, you can do it!” Hawkins said with a laugh.

The trio agreed to work together and negotiated a new lease with the building owner.

“We got the keys on July 6 and started tearing down walls to expand the dining room,” said Hawkins.

The construction process was a family affair. Hawkins’ boyfriend’s son demolished an existing wall and built an archway in its place to connect two dining areas. Her daughter, Victoria, and cousin, Brandon, pitched in to help with the demo and cleaning, as did Gruneich’s wife, Pheonix, and son, Dominic. Peake’s father-in-law and brother-in-law assisted with interior finishes.

Their efforts added 800 square feet of dining space to the floor, which now holds 17 in-house dining tables. Four outdoor patio dining tables are positioned in front of the restaurant.

In the midst of the construction, the partners were busy revitalizing the menu. Philadelphia Seafood & Italian Cuisine proudly features Bently Ranch grass-fed beef, and Hawkins said they’re striving to make the restaurant’s offerings as locally sourced as possible.

Many popular items carried over from the former menu. Appetizers include fresh calamari breaded by hand, and a bruschetta made with garden tomatoes and basil ribbons to spoon over garlicky toasted bread. Some new additions are Eggplant Parmesan; cheese ravioli with a fresh garlic, basil and tomato sauce; and a hearty antipasto salad. There’s a children’s menu for diners 12 and younger, and take-out is available.

Specials are offered every weekend; recent selections featured Parmesan crusted salmon and a strawberry feta cheese salad with balsamic dressing. Homemade desserts include tiramisu, New York-style cheesecake (served plain, with berry compote, or chocolate), and a double fudge brownie swirled with caramel.

The three owners work in tandem to ensure the restaurant runs smoothly. Gruneich manages the kitchen, Peake handles the financials, and Hawkins oversees daily operations. The restaurant crew includes experienced wait- and kitchen staff, and employees are cross-trained to ensure competency across all roles and functions of the restaurant.

Philadelphia Seafood and Italian Cuisine officially launched on Aug. 21, which was the busiest Tuesday the restaurant had ever seen.

“We’ve had a really good response so far,” Hawkins said. “We’ve got people coming from Johnson Lane and Carson City. The word is getting out.”

Menu offerings are spotlighted on the restaurant’s Instagram and Facebook pages.

“One customer came in and when I asked if he wanted a menu, he said, ‘I saw your picture (of an Italian hoagie) on Facebook and I dreamed about it! That is what I want!’” Hawkins said with a laugh.

The restaurant is awaiting approval for a liquor license. Goals are to add delivery service for lunch and dinner, expand the kitchen, and add a third dining area.

Philadelphia Seafood & Italian Cuisine is located at 1281 Kimmerling Road in the Gardnerville Ranchos. Hours are 11 a.m.-9 a.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Find them online at and on Facebook and Instagram. Their number is 775-392-3370.