Nibbles and bites: From restaurant to veterinary hospital


An ex-senator jumps back into the veterinary business with a high-end conversion project.

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This restaurant-turned-veterinary-practice sits at the corner of two of Las Vegas’s busiest streets. The billboard-like feature above the building can be seen from almost any direction, which helps advertising. With some landscaping, fresh paint and a sign, the exterior was good to go. Former outdoor seating areas now serve as a dog play area outside.

If Dr. John Ensign’s facility looks familiar to Las Vegas residents, it’s because it’s housed four restaurants over the years. If you look closely, you’ll see remnants of the four failed businesses, repurposed for a more successful business: Boca Park Animal Hospital. An outdoor eating patio now serves as a play area for boarded pets. An outdoor grill area, walled in, makes a handy grooming area. The former bar now serves as a great reception desk, with seating surrounding it. And dual entrances work perfectly for separating cats and dogs as they enter the spacious shared lobby.

“I originally wanted to build from scratch, but when I heard about this building that had gone into foreclosure, I had to take a look,” says Dr. Ensign, a former senator who has returned to his veterinary roots. “The incredible location at the corner of two of Vegas’s busiest streets is as good a location as you could ever find.”

Dr. Ensign bought the building directly from the bank and immediately drew up plans for a conversion. And while he bought the building at a steal—$1.95 million, when it was originally an $8 million building—he spared no expense making the interior high quality.

“The right building materials set the tone for your hospital—and simply last longer,” he says. From granite countertops to quartz exam and treatment tables, from nearly indestructible yet comfortable furniture to epoxy-grouted tile, Dr. Ensign designed the building to last.

“The right building and the right materials are critical to a practice’s longevity,” he says. “This wasn’t the simplest of constructs, but altogether, it has worked out very well.”

Takeaway tip:

Conversions are hot—gas stations, retail stores and, yes, restaurants converted into veterinary practices. Why pay for infrastructure, four walls and a roof when someone else already did?

Photography credit: Sirius Productions

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The reception area features two entrances to keep cats and dogs separate. A raised area that used to be the restaurant’s bar now serves as a round reception desk. Tile on the desk is repeated behind as an accent wall, and the counter itself is made from marble for an upscale look.

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Exam room

The five exam rooms, including one used as a comfort room, were done in neutral colors to be timeless. Dr. Ensign asked for the overhang to make sitting at the table more comfortable. The tile flooring goes up the walls a bit for easier cleaning. Built-in benches are made with durable fabric cushions.

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Cat exam room

The cat exam room features a climbing post and a feline facial pheromone device to soothe cats.

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Dr. Ensign extended the high-quality materials into the back of the hospital, with granite countertops for longer-lasting wear. Open cabinets and shelving keep the area organized and convenient.

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The treatment area wet tables are surrounded with quartz borders for a high-end look that is durable and easy to clean. Stainless steel on the corners prevents wear and tear from leashes and bumping carts.

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Surgery suite

The surgery suite holds one table at the moment, but it’s wired for a future second table.

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Boarding suites

One of the first things Dr. Ensign insisted on in his new practice was luxury boarding suites with cameras that allow staff members as well as pet owners to peek in on pets at any time. “Once, we had a client call and tell us her pet’s pillow wasn’t in the right place for optimum comfort,” he says. “She had been watching online and wanted us to correct it to make her dog happier.”

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Dog play areas

Two dog play areas, one for small dogs and one for large dogs, sit where the former restaurant’s outdoor seating area was. The glassed-in areas and play equipment give dogs room to run safely.

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Boca Park Animal Hospital

1050 S. Rampart Blvd.

Las Vegas, NV 89145

(702) 675-7000

Fax (702) 586-9822

[email protected]

Owner: John Ensign, DVM

Hospital team: 8 full-time, 2 part-time

Practice style: 100 percent small animal

Building size: 9,391 square feet

Exam rooms: 5

Cages: 26

Parking spaces: 40 client, 30 staff

Construction: $750,000

Site improvement: $125,000

Professional fees: $45,000

Equipment: $431,000

Furnishings: $9,500

Computers: $31,000

Year built: 2013

Primary architect:

Christopher Kourafas

Christopher T. Kourafas Architect, NCARB

3312 Burritt Way

La Cresenta, CA 91214

(702) 461-1820

[email protected]

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Click floor plan to enlarge

Click floor plan to enlarge


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