Owners of Emerald at Queensridge
by Jennifer Florendo
Renae and Leon Iunco met over three decades ago while they were working at the beach. Each made a lasting impression on the other and Renae, to this day, can remember exactly what Leon looked like, sitting on a barstool.
It seems like an unlikely combination: Renae, an athlete from Anaheim who played volleyball, softball and basketball and Leon, a guy from Africa who wanted to be a rock star. Leon’s parents encouraged him to set his sights on a career that would be considered more stable. “A doctor, a dentist, a lawyer or an accountant were my options,” said Leon. He chose to become an accountant and then eventually got to live out his rock star life vicariously when he became the accountant for the band Pink Floyd. That job would eventually bring him to the U.S. where he and Renae would later meet. They quickly fell in love and have been inseparable since that first day.
Neither with a high school diploma, but both having big entrepreneurial spirits, they knew that they could do great things together in the business world. They both have extensive backgrounds in the service industry and wanted to bring that experience to a new venture together. They began a photography business in California, where they had lived at the time, before deciding to move their family to Las Vegas.
“Las Vegas is the wedding capital of the world,” says Renae. “We chose Las Vegas not only for that, but also because it was an affordable place where you can actually own a home and raise a family.”
Here, they started a photography business, with a specialty in weddings, and formed solid relationships within the wedding industry. Their talent and ambition helped earn their way into several local chapels, with the former Emerald Gardens being one of them.
Their love and passion for the industry, combined with their entrepreneurial skills, propelled the couple to their next venture: opening their own banquet and event center. While working at Emerald Gardens, Leon fell in love with the chapel and said that if it was ever for sale, he wanted to buy it.
In 2006, that became a reality. Emerald Gardens was up for sale. The Iuncos used their business acumen to get interest from investors, in addition to selling almost everything they had, in order to purchase what is now Emerald at Queensridge.
Over time, they have shown their sons the ropes of operating the family business; however, Renae and Leon remain the heart and soul of the business. Kenny has been appointed to general manager; Shane is the banquet captain and Danny takes care of operations, maintenance and repairs. Of course, Chef Boupha can’t be left out, as he is an honorary member of the family, creating unique and delicious culinary creations for each and every event.
While some may find it challenging to work with a spouse and be together almost 24/7, Renae prefers it that way. “We do everything together. We know our roles and work together to be successful,” she said. They focus on “staying in their lanes” at work, as each knows their role and responsibility within the business. They keep their life at home completely different and separate from work. For them, it all works. “It is the most incredible thing to have a partner you want to be around,” continued Renae.
Now, with their sons running most of the operation, Renae and Leon can focus on branching out into other areas. They are looking into hosting more fundraising events at their venue along with starting a nonprofit for people who can’t afford cancer care. Some of Renae’s other out-of-the-box ideas include Sunday brunches, holiday parties and even a dog wedding. Count our RSVP as a yes for that.