Known to many as Mama Maria, Maria Perry has created a culinary institution in Las Vegas. She and her husband, Al, opened their first restaurant in 1949 and she hasn’t slowed down since. She recently turned 100, and while playing host to such celebrities as Howard Hughes, Marlene Dietrich, and Sammy Davis Jr., Maria raised a family including her daughter, Lorraine Hunt-Bono, Nevada’s former lieutenant governor. Our Carrie Roussel recently got the lowdown on Mama Ma- ria’s thoughts about her adopted state.


Question: Where were you born?

Maria Perry: Fort William, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 1917, 100 years ago.

Question: Where do you live now?

Maria Perry: I live in Las Vegas in my own townhome near my daughter, Lorraine Hunt-Bono, and son-in-law, Dennis Bono.

Question: What originally brought you to Nevada?

Maria Perry: My husband, Al, and I moved out to Las Vegas from Niagara Falls, New York, for health reasons in 1943. We went to work in a restaurant and I became a Las Vegas chef, serving customers like Bugsy Siegel, Howard Hughes, and Frank Sinatra.

Question: What is your favorite thing about living in Nevada? Maria Perry: I love Nevada for its healthy weather and the job opportunities it offers ambitious, hardworking people.

Question: Do you have a favorite Nevada memory?

Maria Perry: My favorite memory is coming into the state for the very first time, driving across the country from Niagara Falls to arrive in Boulder City in December 1943. When we left Niagara Falls, it was snowing; in fact it was a blizzard. When we arrived four days later, the sun was shining and people were dressed in shorts, watering their green lawns. My husband and I thought we had died and gone to heaven!

Question: What is your favorite Nevada event or festival? Maria Perry: I always love Helldorado Days in Las Vegas and the celebration of the Old West. I also love the old train stop called Las Vegas.

Question: What is your favorite Nevada thing to show/do with out of town guests??

Maria Perry: Two favorite things to show friends are the fabulous Las Vegas Strip and the majestic beauty of Lake Tahoe.

Question: Who do you consider to be a notable Nevadan? Why?

Maria Perry: I consider my daughter, the 32nd Lt. Governor of the state of Nevada, to be a notable Nevadan. She loves Nevada and did many good things for our state, from north to south and in the rural areas during her eight years serving the people of our state. I’m very proud of her!

Question: What does being Battle Born mean to you?

Maria Perry: Battle Born signifies the strength and determination of the pioneers and people who have strived and continue to strive to maintain the entrepreneurial spirit that makes Neva- da a great state in which to live.


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