In June, a month after restaurants were allowed to reopen following the initial coronavirus shutdown, @RGJTaste noted the passing of seven Reno restaurants, some of them open for decades, during the pandemic.
Three months later, we remember the permanent closing of nine more places — from signature Basque and burgers to storefront bagels to a bar that helped create Reno cocktail culture, and more.
These closings remind us of the powerful challenges facing local, independent food and drink businesses as COVID-19 continues.
ĂN – ASIAN KITCHEN & BAR
Word emerged in early August that Ăn – Asian Kitchen would be closing because of business challenges created by the pandemic.
The restaurant opened in fall 2018 in the distinctive wedge-shaped building on Longley Lane in South Reno that housed Café de Thai for many years until its move to Midtown.
Ăn means “to eat” in Vietnamese. Among the foods issuing from the kitchen were pho and other soups, rice bowls, vermicelli bowls, sizzling platters, and vegetable, seafood, chicken, pork and beef main courses.
LITTLE NUGGET DINER
On July 21, in an emotional email to @RGJTaste, owner Rick Heaney confirmed he would be closing the Little Nugget casino and its diner at the end of July “because of the economic impossibility to stay open” during the pandemic.
After @RGJTaste shared the news, folks waited for hours in lines that stretched down South Virginia Street for one last chance to get messy with an Awful Awful burger, the diner’s signature dish that had been served continually, more or less, since 1954.
The “awful big, awful good” burger, once showcased at Nugget casinos across Northern Nevada, now is served only at the Carson City Nugget. It’s worth a drive.
Owner Christina Ciaccio announced on Facebook in late July that she was shutting down her wholesale business, Mindful Cupcakes, after losing nearly all her accounts and being denied federal financial assistance.
The business supplied local retailers with baked goods free from gluten, grains, dairy, soy and refined sugar. A Mindful Cupcakes retail store, opened in fall 2018 in Northwest Reno, had closed in October 2019.
Ciaccio has moved to Southern California and is currently crowdfunding for Memore Bakery, a keto outfit offering cupcakes and other baked goods.
ROUNDS BAKERY STOREFRONT
In early July, Rounds Bakery shared on Facebook it was shuttering its storefront on East Moana Lane — where, for six years, it had sold bagels, specialty breads, salads, sandwiches and doughnuts — to concentrate on its packaged food business.
The bakery cited social distancing challenges in a retail setting as a cause for the shift in focus. Closing day was stated as July 17, although people were observed by the Reno Gazette Journal entering the store as late as Aug. 11.
And, although food production was supposedly moving elsewhere, Rounds remained in the Moana Lane space after its lease expired. The whole matter ended up in court, with Rounds now having quitted the premises according to the most recent notice on the case docket.
Since the storefront closure, Rounds has not returned requests for comment on the status of its wholesale operation.
ST. JAMES INFIRMARY
A sign has gone up in the window of this California Avenue bar stating the business is listed for sale with Katrina Loftin of M&A Business Advisors, who often handles the purchase, sale and leasing of food and drink establishments in Northern Nevada.
The sale of the business is distinct from the sale of the building itself, which has been owned for the last 17 years by a Nevada limited liability company associated with a contractor based in Northern Nevada and Northern California.
Yes, a purchaser could reopen St. James Infirmary, but it would be a different incarnation of the bar, hence the inclusion on this permanently closed list.
St. James Infirmary, a pioneer of Reno cocktail culture, opened in 2007, named for a . famous blues song. Over the years, the bar drew an enthusiastic following for its stylish feel, creative cocktails, live music, good-looking crowd and its capacious rooftop terrace.
SANTA FE BASQUE RESTAURANT
On July 11, the Basque restaurant in the Santa Fe Hotel served its last its last iceberg salad with fries, its final bowl of oxtail braised in red wine, its farewell Picon punch when it closed following dinner service after more than 70 years in downtown Reno.
The Santa announced the closing the next day on Facebook.
With the drop in bar business, the lack of downtown events, the falloff in business lunches because people are working from home, and the need to limit parties to six or fewer (thus idling some of the communal tables, a Basque signature), it no longer made financial sense to keep the Santa Fe open, owner Dennis Banks said.
The restaurant had only reopened in July 2019 after being shut for two years for renovations. Banks purchased the building in 2017 from the Reno family that had owned it since the late 1940s.
STONEYHEAD BREWING CO.
In June, StoneyHead on Longley Lane hosted a Swan Song celebration to thank its customers before it shuttered after seven years. StoneyHead stood out, visually, for its “mascot,” a moai stone head from Easter Island.
At the brewery closing, the StoneyHead website listed 15 beers, including the Whiskey Vixen, a version of its Sneaky Redhead aged in whiskey barrels. The beer sold out
TRUCKEE RIVER BAR & GRILL
A few weeks ago, a “For Lease” sign appeared in the window of Truckee River Bar & Grill in the Shops at the Village on California Avenue. The restaurant opened in 1985, according to Reno Gazette Journal archives, and always has been a locals hangout.
They dropped by for cold beer, reasonably priced cocktails, and straightforward food like biscuits and gravy, fish and chips, and more than a dozen sandwiches with choice of two sides.
The restaurant also was known for its bartenders and servers that could genially handle any rush. (Full disclosure: @RGJTaste was a fan of the vodka sodas and a lunchtime club sandwich.)
TRUE NY PIZZA CO.
In July on Facebook, the pizzeria thanked its customers as it put away the dough after nearly a decade in business.
Folks consistently ranked pies from True NY, on Vista Boulevard in Sparks, as some of the finest in Northern Nevada, praising their thin crust and topping styles that ranged from plain cheese (very New York) to white pizza (ricotta and mozzarella), from Greek to spinach (another very New York pie) to a loaded all-meat version.
True NY also served calzones, pastas, grinders, and main courses like eggplant and chicken Parmigiana.
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