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Home > Entertainment > Food > Day 15 – More of restaurateur Judy Ashton

Day 15 – More of restaurateur Judy Ashton

By ThisIsReno
world trade center twin towers

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Submitted by Karl Breckenridge

An eight-foot wide mural remains across the back of Zozo’s Ristorante in Moana West, depicting New York City at sunset, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings framing the World Trade Center’s twin towers.

“Well, the towers survived here at least,” I commented to Judy Ashton, who took over Zozo’s on the very midnight of the new millennium.  “The towers stand,” Judy replied.

My reference was to a mini-movement among a few patrons who, immediately following 9/11/2001, felt that the towers should be airbrushed out of the mural’s skyline. (The mural was placed there by a former tenant of that space in the strip center, a Brooklyn émigré who was a restaurateur of immense talent but could screw up a soup sandwich as a businessperson, as witness the half-dozen locations about town that housed his operation’s venues.)

Reno Airport
Reno airport. Image: Trevor Bexon

Judy recalled a group of new patrons who visited Zozo’s on the evening of 9/11, for she vowed that she’d keep her restaurant open and sling meatballs for free before she knuckled under to the bastards who forever altered America that Tuesday morning.

With many other local restaurants closed, she hosted a bunch of guys, some possibly in town for that week’s air races (which were subsequently canceled). The next night a few more out-of-town folks showed up – bear in mind that all aircraft were grounded by the FAA. And later in the week, more yet, who, stranded in Reno with only enough clothes for the past weekend, walked to Zozo’s for a bite while they rinsed out their socks and skippers at the laundromat next door.

Over those nights they all formed a bond – travelers far from home and family, with a time frame to get home remaining unclear. And for some, far from their computers. [This was before iPhones, if anyone can imagine that life could endure without them…] Judy volunteered hers, and for a week her little laptop became the guys’ link to business and family.

One-by-one and two-by-two they bade each other goodbye as they found alternate means of getting out of our town, the final departurers a group of four, unknown to each other a week before but now fast friends who were able to scare up a rental car and left for what would be a cross-country trip for the final driver of the car. And, Judy still hears from them all, with their thanks for the informal hearth and home she provided during a challenging time.

Good recollections, Judy – the American Spirit unbowed, right here on Lakeside Drive; surely a microcosm of ten thousand similar stories unfolding that week. Now, the streets and ristorantes are quiet once again, for other reasons…

And I’ve made a lot of new friends in the past couple weeks – like those walking Virginia Lake I described yesterday and saying hello to strangers, I’ve heard from many of you This is Reno readers and I’d like to stay in touch if the world ever gets back to normal – maybe Bob Conrad will let me visit with you occasionally!

Now – take a tacit moment for your own recollections of events of 19-1/2 years ago; thanks for reading, God bless America, Let’s Roll and of course, stay safe, huh?

Zozo’s, like many Reno restaurants, is still open for curbside takeout. Hours are 4 – 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Details at https://www.zozosreno.com/.


Karl Breckenridge

Karl Breckenridge was slowly going nuts. So he decided to help out This is Reno by writing a daily out-of-his-mind column for the duration of the coronavirus shutdown. Now that it’s over he’s back to his usual antics, drinking coffee with the boys at the Bear and, well, we’re not sure what else. But he loved sharing his daily musings with you, so he’s back, albeit a little less often, to keep on sharing. Karl grew up in the valley and has stories from the area going back to 1945. He’s been writing for 32 years locally. 

Read more from Karl Breckenridge

Submitted opinions do not represent the views of ThisisReno. Have something to say? Submit an opinion article here.

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