Submitted by Karl Breckenridge
A day or two ago we trotted out an old standby column topic for our This is Reno readers – we called it “Faded Menus” and offered it with the full knowledge and disclosure that one never got all the closed restaurants on the first time through, and a revisit would be inevitable. True to form, it became so, so away we go to some other favorites….:
Our old buddy Nan Johnson started things off: “Bundox?” (Jan’s a woman of few words.)
Owners Bud and Cebe Loomis named the joint on Lake and West First Street after a faraway, mythical place evocative of Xanadu known better in the Philippines and pronounced “Boondocks.” The Loomises had an extensive collection of Chinese artifacts which were displayed at the restaurant/lounge and in the rooms of their adjoining motel, the River House. The Bundox was incredibly popular in the mid-19th century. Whatever happened to its huge, decorative brass doorknobs? Who knows…
An element of Faded Menus Reduxes are comments about places we didn’t forget. Here’s a couple:
Dan Hinxman asked “Is Les Lerude (the downtown Wigwam) related to Warren Lerude?” I started to respond, but thought the better of it knowing that Warren himself could and would do it better and wordier.
The Big Dude did not disappoint. His response, worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, hell, he’s got one of them already:
“Les Lerude’s Better Foods–We Close Sundays and Go Fishing–Home of the Hot Apple Pie and Vanilla Cream Sauce–Not Recommended by Duncan Hines–Wigwam Coffee Shop–Second and Sierra streets, northeast corner–where Warren Lerude couldn’t master the milkshake machine or the dishwasher machine and therein Peter Principled out of the restaurant business as a teen-ager and tried something different, journalism, where he still struggles daily in one form or another…”
Another who didn’t disappoint was our favorite man-we-love-to-hate, umpire Chris Healy, noting the bacon-bit dressing that the Liberty Belle used on their spinach salad. Asking permission to use his and wife Carol Chase Healy’s name in the paper, he reminded me that Carol had achieved the dream of every Reno High chick, to marry a guy from Manogue. That alone ought to get the ol’ mailbag filling…
Ralph Langley sent a scan of a program for one of the most memorable evenings we could ever spend at the Liberty Belle – a program of The Drunkard – the Bella Union Players’ rendition of an old Vaudeville play replete with Barney Hatton’s ominous chords on the piano and a “he tied her to the railroad tracks…” moustache-twisting segment. The play ran when the south wing of the Belle opened in 1966. You’ll read more of it here, and we say thanks, Ralph…
Dan Rider and Sonny Thompson voted for the Glory Hole which I rapidly seconded and added to it the Villa Roma and Washoe., which occupied the same West Fourth Street building before and after the Glory Hole (in our buddy Curtis Worrall’s Whispering Vine present location).
Lynnae Hornbarger, Ted (Digger) Williams and Gretchen Dermody reminded us of Siri’s on East Fourth Street (Gretchen also mentioned Vario’s).
Reno’s leading tenor voice Lauren House piped up with the Choy family’s Chinese Pagoda in Sparks; I’m surprised in the same vein that none mentioned the Yup family’s Sun Café on South Virginia Street. Or across the street, the bygone Famous Murphy’s. (And to save you all the trouble, the names you’re groping for are Hobo Junction and Hungry Tiger.)
And no nominations either for Bailiwick’s, usually a contender in these Faded Menus outings. C’mon, folks; what’s happening to us??
Sharon Zialeah Flagg wants some escargot at Mimi’s Hideaway, and a half-dozen votes came in for the Spaghetti Factory in the one-time church on Vassar and Wells, that I always thought was Sid Stern’s in-your-face to the Catholic Church.
Back to the Liberty Belle, George Hatjakes wonders how the Air Guard ever got an airplane off the ground on “Air Guard Friday” at the Belle. And Mike Reid admits that their dollar-a-rib plate could keep him on the ground also for two or three bucks. And I’m entitled to a memory also; how ‘bout a chocolate sundae in the little silver bowls, served up by Alice with her million-dollar smile? And speaking of people, Gretchen mentioned Gitta the camera lady – I feel a column coming on there, of the people we remember from the Faded Menus…
The Gold ‘n Silver got a couple mentions – let’s be clear on the concept: A ”Faded Menu” is from a restaurant that has closed for keeps, unlike the G&S and every other restaurant the valley has now.
Let’s hope that a year from now I have no more “Faded Menus” to write of, following this weird period we’re going through now. I could go on forever with the stuff of restaurants, barkeeps, pianists, photographers, parking valets of old, waiters, and other stuff of the industry, but Steve Capurro and Russ Ferretto are getting hungry all over again so we’re going to say so long, proschai, adieu, aloha, auf wiedersehn, goodbye and farewell for today, but most importantly, be safe huh?
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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
Karl’s pal Jody shares the rich history of bootlegging, decorating, and engineering within the confines of the Truckee River’s banks and its picturesque islands.
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