The end of an era
June 7, 2005
How many restaurants can say Marilyn Monroe, at the height of her stardom, played paddle ball in their bar?
Mia’s restaurant in Dayton will be serving its last plate of spaghetti on June 30 and selling Odeon Hall, which has been its home for the past 18 years.
Erected in the 1860s, the historic structure was twice rebuilt after burning down. Originally used as a lodge by the Odd Fellows, it also served as an Old West saloon, a cinema and museum. Most famously, it was featured in the 1960 motion picture “The Misfits,” starring Monroe and Clark Gable.
“It provided some of the interior shots for the bar scenes and exterior shots in front of the building,” State Archivist Guy Rocha said. A pivotal moment in the movie when Monroe plays paddle ball was shot inside the bar.
Prior to opening Mia’s in Dayton, Mia and Max Kuerzi ran a restaurant in Carson City for five years.
The building is also home to the Misfits theater group, which regularly stages plays in its upstairs ballroom. “They used to play basketball in the ballroom,” Mia Kuerzi said.
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At the end of June, the Kuerzis are retiring and selling the two-story, 9,000-square-foot brick building. Whether it will continue to operate as a restaurant remains to be seen.
Mia Kuerzi said the pair has received interest from buyers, but would not comment any further on who they were or what their plans for the building were.
Do-Mor for Dayton, a nonprofit organization, tried to secure state funding to buy the building from the Kuerzis for a reported $675,000. Two years ago, Sen. Mark Amodei R-Carson City, sponsored a bill that would have funded the purchase, but that piece of legislation failed.
“At least we got heard,” said Camille Vecchiarelli, whose mother, Lee Sommers, ran Do-Mor. “The five of us got burned out. Mia was giving us a good deal, but we weren’t raising enough money.” The group is now focusing its energies on bringing a new community or cultural center to Dayton.
The Kuerzis would not say how much they are selling for. One commercial real estate appraiser said it was difficult to estimate the worth of the building without knowing the condition of the structure. The price would depend on the renovations needed and the income earning potential of the property. “With a building that old, the county may require (the buyer) to upgrade some aspect of it,” Daniel Leck said.
The Misfits theater group is cautiously optimistic it will continue to perform in Odeon Hall past June 30. “We have another production in the fall,” said Carol Bauer, president of the group. “We hope it will be in Odeon Hall. If not, we’ll find another home. We’re not going to disband over it.”
Part of the Comstock Historic District, Odeon Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“There were would be some merit for the county to preserve the building for its historical value,” said County Commissioner Bob Milz, who represents Dayton. But he added that Do-Mor never approached the county for funding.
After 25 years in the restaurant business, Mia Kuerzi hasn’t lost her sense of humor. Asked about the fate of the “historical” building, she replied, “You mean hysterical! That’s what we call it around here.”
n Contact reporter Dan Moreau at email@example.com or 887-2430 ext. 351.
Before the final curtain call
Before Mia’s restaurant closes on June 30, The Dayton Misfits Theater Group will hold performances there Friday, Saturday and June 17
What: “Class Reunion” by Tony Thornburg
Where: Mia’s Restaurant, 65 Pike St., Dayton
Cost: $8 per ticket
Information: Call 246-9622