Note: This is our Q&A that originally appeared on the Paso Robles Daily News.
I’ve seen the Nino name around the Paso Robles/ Templeton communities for some time but it became more of a household name in a sense when Nino’s Grill opened in Templeton. More recently, ON Bar in Paso Robles opened its doors and I found out Steve Nino was behind this new creation as well. I was intrigued and was introduced to him in order to do the below Q&A. Cheers!
Matt: Are you originally from the Paso Robles/ Templeton area? If not, when did you come here and from where?
Steve: No. I grew up in Los Gatos, went to high school in San Jose (All boys catholic high school). Ended up going to Cal Poly (followed my older brother Mike who went to Cal Poly). That’s when I first came down to the area. After graduation I went back to Hollister where most of my family was at that time. I ended up moving to Paso Robles in 2004. Lived in a couple different places and then moved to my current residence in Templeton in 2006.
Matt: From what I understand you are in construction and real estate, what made you want to get into the restaurant industry?
Steve: I didn’t want the restaurant industry per se but saw the need for Templeton families to have a place to go to after games. Since I was a long time coach I saw that after games we ended up going to Atascadero and wanted to cultivate a space where Templeton kids could come after the game. I think everyone kinda always aspires to open a restaurant and it was kind of just a whim that got out of hand. Lol
I saw the particular building come up for rent one day (Nino’s present location) and I thought “what the heck, I wanna try this”. Like a lot of things I didn’t get around to it right away. So by the time I called the building had been rented. I told myself if something like this ever happens again, I’m not going to even think about it. I’m just going to rent it and figure it out. 4 weeks later a for rent sign went back up on the same building.
Matt: When was Nino’s Grill established?
Steve: October 2015 is when we first opened our doors, but the renovation project and planning started in 2014.
Matt: What is the philosophy behind Nino’s Grill?
Steve: Well, our tag line Is “come on over”. But I would say in general, from the very beginning, it is our mission that whoever walks in that door is going to be treated with friendliness and respect, regardless of who you are or what you appear to be.
Matt: You recently created ON Bar in Paso Robles, what is the philosophy behind this second restaurant?
Steve: I like the idea that Templeton kind of had a place for locals to go. And even though Paso was teaming with wonderful restaurants, whether new or had been around forever, I didn’t feel that there was a place (if you asked a local) where do the locals go — that an answer would readily come to them. We are trying to create that spot.
Matt: You are in the building that was formerly occupied by a very popular restaurant, Villa Creek. Did you have any thoughts about having to “fill those shoes” or did you come in with a clean slate mentally about this space?
Steve: More than anything else we came in with gratitude that the place had a wonderful reputation for so long. We are who we are, I don’t like the idea of shoes to fill because it’s like you’re trying to replace someone else. Villa Creek was Villa Creek, ON Bar is ON Bar. But, I do recognize that there is a lot of history with the building and the restaurant and we hope to create a little of our own.
Matt: How would you describe the differences between the two restaurants?
Steve: Nino’s is obviously a more family, home town atmosphere. As much as we tried to duplicate the family style of Nino’s we recognize that it is a different town, different atmosphere, different social dynamic at ON Bar. Paso has a lot of tourism and we need to appeal to that factor, while keeping in mind the north county resident will always be our number one priority.
Regardless of the differences our philosophy remains the same – treat everyone with respect.
Matt: Is there/ will there be a big focus on wine at ON Bar?
Steve: Short answer, yes. We have some special things planned that we are very proud of. While also keeping up a current extensive and vibrant day to day wine list. Our wine list focuses on local wines but also includes wonderful wines throughout the state and some international selections. Although we are a full bar, and pride ourselves on our cocktail program, we do recognize that we are in the middle of one of the fastest growing wine areas in the world — and we’re very proud and excited to showcase amazing wines in this area.
Matt: Aside from your two restaurants, which couple of restaurants do you currently love in the Paso Robles/ Templeton area?
La Bellasera (Enoteca).
These are a few of my favorites, however, there are so many wonderful restaurants that I love to go to — and in fact go to often.
Matt: Based on how busy you seem between construction, real estate, and two restaurants…how do you relax on the Central Coast?
Steve: Well lucky for me I actually have a lot more free time than people think, due to the quality of people that work with me. It’s not really work or stressful, I enjoy what I do. It is incorporated into my life style, however, there is really nothing better than sitting on the front porch with my family. I have a lot of history in the ranching industry, so occasionally I go to brandings on weekends, and also enjoy going to my kids’ activities.
Matt: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Steve: I feel very blessed to be in this area and to have made it my home. It has so many things that I love, from ranching and agriculture, to wonderful restaurants, to just a lively, young, vibrant community.