Coyote Grill turns 7 |

Coyote Grill turns 7

Rick Chandler

Dan Thrift / Lake Tahoe Action / Jamie Dittenber serves one up from the Coyote Grill in Round Hill Square.

This year the Coyote Grill is celebrating its seventh year at Tahoe, but owner Mike Leeper has a more important anniversary to mark in a few weeks.

“On July 1st I will have been married a year,” said Leeper, owner of the Coyote Grill at the Round Hill Shopping Center. “My wife, Dronwin, actually worked for me. She was going to school at Nevada-Reno, and we started dating.”

Dronwin, now a mortgage banker, and Mike have a daughter, Taimani. But the folks down at Coyote Grill are like an extended family; especially the 12 employees who work hard to bring people some of the best food in the Tahoe area.

Coyote Grill is known for a wide range of tasty food – including steak and chicken fajitas, steak, fish tacos, burgers sandwiches and salads.

“Our reputation is based on our food,” said Leeper, who also owns another Coyote Grill in Gardnerville that includes a sports bar. “But we also have a full bar (margaritas are their specialty), and we’re open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. So people come around just to have a good time as well.”

Leeper was born and raised in Portland, Ore., where he played high school soccer and took an early liking to the restaurant business. When he moved to Tahoe 13 years ago he started as a bartender, then eventually sought to buy his own business.

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“I wanted to live here, but it’s tough making money unless you own a business,” he said. “I love the industry; I love what I do. Early on I got a feel for it, for being with the public. Once I figured out how to run a restaurant there was no turning back.”

The beginning was rough; 12-hour days, seven days a week.

“After about a year and a half of that I figured it out,” he said. “Now it’s not so hard.”

The Coyote Grill also has 12 video poker machines, and is open seven days a week.