LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — It’s been nearly eight years since Craig Dodson’s journey began, and if the path took awhile to find he’s happy with where it has led him.
In December of 2014, he was working security on the Strip when there was a problem with a passenger who tried to board an RTC bus in front of Paris Las Vegas. Christopher Gene Boudinot, 35, was taken off the bus.
“He pulled his gun. I pulled my gun. And unfortunately … I took his life,” Dodson said. “That’s a sad thing I have to live with for the rest of my life.”
Boudinot shot Dodson in the leg, and seven surgeries followed as doctors worked against an infection.
“I try to forget a lot of it. It’s very hard,” Dodson said Monday. “Yeah, I try my best not to think about it, but it’s hard not to. Every time I get out of the shower and look at my leg, I see what transpired that day.”
“I didn’t think I would ever take another human’s life,” he said.
It cut short a career he loved. Working security opened doors he never imagined as a kid growing up in Los Angeles. He was already in the business when he came to Las Vegas at “22 or 23” to stay with his brother, who was working for legendary guitarist B.B. King at the time.
“They were actually going out of town, they were actually going on a tour, and I wanted to go back to Memphis to stay with my dad for a bit,” Dodson remembers. “So in between traveling from Vegas to Memphis I basically created a job for myself. Mr. King actually came up to me himself and said, ‘You want a job son?’ Sure!,” he said, laughing. “Fifteen years of that was a blast.”
His world changed when the shooting happened. The life he loved was gone.
“I didn’t know what else to do with my life. I didn’t know what I could do. I didn’t know what my limits were,” he said. “I knew I couldn’t do security anymore because physically I can’t run … I can’t do my job.”
But Dodson, 48, doesn’t spend much time on regrets. He emanates positivity. He turned to his dream as an 11-year-old boy learning to cook at his mother’s side. The goal became to start a food truck. A worker’s comp settlement and nearly two years later he was back to work, this time at a stove.
“I basically took it, buried it and hoped the flower would grow. And the flower’s name is Getting Baked,” Dodson said.
On Thanksgiving, potatoes are the order of the day at the new restaurant that’s taking Dodson’s dream to a new level. After selling his food truck, he’s making a go of it in the restaurant at the Sundance Kid Cafe on Craig Road at Valley Drive in North Las Vegas. It’s his grand opening.
On the menu: a build-your-own gourmet Tuxe potato or a Thanksgiving plate with a choice of turkey or prime rib ($5 more):
The Sundance Kid Cafe, a neighborhood bar in North Las Vegas, had been without a restaurant for awhile. But that’s all changing now. Dodson has moved in and he’s ready for the new challenge.
He said the idea came from his fiancee. “I was kind of going towards soul food or maybe doing wrapped egg rolls — putting everything in an egg roll. But she kind of steered me … She just looked over at me, she said, ‘What about a baked potato?'” he recalls.
” ‘Baked potato? Nah, I don’t want a baked potato, that’s …’ Then I thought about it more and more and I was like, ‘Hey, that’s an easy task. All you got to do is take a baked potato. Bake it and put some good flavors on top of it. And it just kicked me right then and there,” Dodson said.
He compared a baked potato to two slices of bread — you can put almost anything on a potato.
“I think that potatoes are a staple in every culture, and every diet, every race, creed or color has some type of potato dish in their food,” he said. “I like potatoes. Baked potatoes, french fries, tater tots. I mean, if it’s a potato, I love it. Fried, fricasseed, boiled, baked, whatever.”
And the menu shows an unexpected variety — a surf & turf, a Philly steak, a spinach and sundried tomato with mushrooms and feta cheese. And there are sweet potato desserts — there’s the Girl Scout Cookie, the Chunky Monkey and one of Dodson’s favorites — the Apple Bacon.
“I also do keto, and so if no one wants a baked potato, I can take any keto vegetable and make that the base, and put the protein or whatever on top of it. I’m trying to learn how to speak vegan. I speak vegetarian very fluently, but I’m learning how to speak vegan. So once I learn how to speak vegan, watch out you vegans, I’m coming for you, too,” Dodson said.
Now, with the shooting behind him, he’s looking forward to customers coming through the door when he opens on Thanksgiving. And someday, he hopes to get a trailer to take his food on the road again.
His emotions came out as he went through the events that led to the restaurant’s opening. He knows he’s in a better place now.
“I figured I couldn’t get shot behind a stove,” he said.